23rd G8 summit

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23rd G8 summit
Logo DENVER 1997.gif
23rd G8 summit official logo
Host countryUnited States
DatesJune 20–22, 1997
Follows22nd G7 summit
Precedes24th G8 summit

The 23rd G8 summit was held on June 20–22, 1997 in Denver, Colorado, United States. The venue was the newly constructed Denver Public Library in downtown Denver.[1] The locations of previous G8 summits to have been hosted by the United States include: San Juan, Puerto Rico (1976), Williamsburg, Virginia (1983), and Houston, Texas (1989).

The Group of Seven (G7) was an unofficial forum which brought together the heads of the richest industrialized countries: France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada starting in 1976. The G8, meeting for the first time in 1997, was formed with the addition of Russia.[2] In addition, the President of the European Commission has been formally included in summits since 1981.[3] The summits were not meant to be linked formally with wider international institutions; and in fact, a mild rebellion against the stiff formality of other international meetings was a part of the genesis of cooperation between France's President Giscard d'Estaing and West Germany's Chancellor Helmut Schmidt as they conceived the initial summit of the Group of Six (G6) in 1975.[4]

Leaders at the summit

The G8 is an unofficial annual forum for the leaders of Canada, the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.[3]

The 23rd G8 summit was the first summit for British Prime Minister Tony Blair and, as it was formed with the addition of Russia, Russian President Boris Yeltsin.


These participants were the "core members" of the 23rd G8 summit:[5][1][6]

Core G8 members
Host state and leader are shown in bold text.
Member Represented by Title
Canada Canada Jean Chrétien Prime Minister
France France Jacques Chirac President
Germany Germany Helmut Kohl Chancellor
Italy Italy Romano Prodi Prime Minister
Japan Japan Ryutaro Hashimoto Prime Minister
Russia Russia Boris Yeltsin President
United Kingdom United Kingdom Tony Blair Prime Minister
United States United States Bill Clinton President
European Union European Union Jacques Santer Commission President
Wim Kok Council President


The newly built Denver Public Library.

Traditionally, the host country of the G8 summit sets the agenda for negotiations, which take place primarily amongst multi-national civil servants in the weeks before the summit itself, leading to a joint declaration which all countries can agree to sign.


The summit was intended as a venue for resolving differences among its members. As a practical matter, the summit was also conceived as an opportunity for its members to give each other mutual encouragement in the face of difficult economic decisions.[4]


A tangible legacy of this summit is the Denver Public Library's main building, an existing library which was transformed into a "masterful composition of new forms". The library has become recognized as one of Denver's city icons.[7] The dramatic post-modern structure was designed by architect Michael Graves.[8] The building was initially used as the summit site; and afterward, it was opened to the public as the city's central library.[9]

The appearance of Boris Yelsin representing Russia as part of the G8 was transformative. Yelsin himself said, "I want very much for it to be written: 'Denver conclusively agrees that the G-7 is transformed into a G-8.'"[10]

In 1997, the summit leaders proclaimed that forests "continue to be destroyed and degraded at alarming rates;" and the G-7 called for the elimination of "illegal logging," but there is little evidence of follow-up action.[11]

Business opportunity

For some, the G8 summit became a profit-generating event; as for example, the official G8 Summit magazines which have been published under the auspices of the host nations for distribution to all attendees since 1998.[12] The special dining opportunities for the summit attendees were created by chefs hired especially for this occasion. One notable dinner offered buffalo, trout and fried squash blossoms filled with wild mushrooms and rattlesnake meat;[13] and years later, Denver's Brown Palace featured an opportunity to taste the same entrée served on the final evening of the G8 Summit in Denver in 1997 -- "pan seared Colorado bison medallions with whiskey-tortilla sauce."[14]

Denver's "Summit of the Eight" planned ahead to ensure that sensitive documents won't fall into the wrong hands because everyone attending will have the option of shredding any documents before discarding them. The summit organizers leased more than 25 new paper shredders from a Denver company that sells, services and leases the machines—and this was the largest order of its kind for the small local business.[15]



  1. ^ a b Japan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA): Summit Meetings in the Past.
  2. ^ Saunders, Doug. "Weight of the world too heavy for G8 shoulders," Globe and Mail (Toronto). July 5, 2008.
  3. ^ a b Reuters: "Factbox: The Group of Eight: what is it?", July 3, 2008.
  4. ^ a b Reinalda, Bob and Bertjan Verbeek. (1998). Autonomous Policy Making by International Organizations, p. 205.
  5. ^ Rieffel, Lex. "Regional Voices in Global Governance: Looking to 2010 (Part IV)," Archived June 3, 2010, at the Wayback Machine Brookings. March 27, 2009; "core" members (Muskoka 2010 G-8, official site). Archived June 2, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ MOFA: Summit (23); G8 Research Group: Delegations; "EU and the G8" Archived February 26, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Mack, Linda. "Children's Theatre design fails to soar; The $27 million addition to the Children's Theatre in Minneapolis will enlarge its creative capacity but doesn't add to the Twin Cities' architectural legacy<" (Star Tribune (Minneapolis). October 23, 2005.
  8. ^ "Graves deserves it," Denver Post. December 7, 2000;
  9. ^ Bount, Donald and Emily Narvaes. "Denver library looms as likely summit host," Denver Post. April 15, 1997.
  10. ^ AP: "In Denver, Yeltsin enjoyed a shining moment at G-8 summit," Archived 2007-10-20 at Archive.today Rocky Mountain Collegian (Fort Collins, Colorado). April 24, 2007.
  11. ^ Sadruddin, Aga Khan. "It's Time to Save the Forests," New York Times. July 19, 2000.
  12. ^ Prestige Media: Archived 2009-05-19 at the Wayback Machine "official" G8 Summit magazine Archived 2009-05-18 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ CNN: Summit leaders take on the world's problems
  14. ^ 2008 VISIT DENVER, The Convention & Visitors Bureau: "The Brown Palace Offers 'Democratic Dishes.'" Archived 2008-09-15 at the Wayback Machine August 12, 2008.
  15. ^ "Shredders distributed for action," Denver Post. June 20, 1997.