G7 Summit: What is the Group of Seven?

The 49th G7 summit will be the first summit for UK’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (Stefan Rousseau / AP)
The 49th G7 summit will be the first summit for UK’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (Stefan Rousseau / AP)

Japan’s Hiroshima City will be hosting this year’s G7 summit, set to take place this weekend.

The 49th G7 summit will be the first for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni.

All core members are expected at the summit, as well as a few invited nations.

The leaders of Australia, Brazil, the Comoros, the Cook Islands, India, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, and Vietnam have been asked by the Japanese presidency to participate in a number of summit working sessions.

But what is the G7, why was it formed, and when does it take place?

What is the G7?

The G7 is an informal group of developed democracies that meets once a year to co-ordinate international economic policies and discuss other matters of a global nature.

The United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom are part of the G7 and are always found in these meetings, occasionally inviting non-member nations to attend.

From 1998 until 2014, when the organisation was still known as the Group of Eight (G8), Russia was a member of the forum; however, membership was suspended as a result of its invasion of the Crimean peninsula of Ukraine.

The future of the G7 is threatened by ongoing tensions with Russia and, to a greater extent, China, as well as by internal conflicts over trade and climate policies.

Before its summit in 2021, the G7 came to a historic agreement to change the world's business taxation regulations as a sign of rekindled collaboration. In reaction to Russia's war in Ukraine, the G7 has more recently co-ordinated sanctions on the country, including a cap on the price of Russian oil.

Why was the G7 formed and what is its purpose?

The G7 was initially a Group of Six established in 1975 by the United States, France, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and West Germany to provide a forum for non-communist powers to discuss urgent economic issues, such as inflation and a recession brought on by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) oil embargo.

The G7 is not a formal entity with a charter and a secretariat, unlike the United Nations or the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).

The presidency, which alternates among member states each year, is in charge of planning the summit's logistics and selecting its agenda.

The summit's arrangements are planned and its topic is chosen by the presidency, which is rotated annually among member states.

When is the G7 summit and what is its aims?

The G7 summit takes place from May 19 to May 21, in Hiroshima.

The official G7 website says that, according to Prime Minister Kishida, Japan would like to show the G7’s strong determination to categorically deny military aggressions, including threats of nuclear weapons, as well as attempts to overthrow the international order, as the world faces an unprecedented crisis brought on by the war against Ukraine and the growing risk of using weapons of mass destruction.

The main issues to be addressed during the eight working sessions include Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, engagement with international partners, nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, economic resilience and security, climate, energy and environment and food, health, and development.