G8/NATO summits, security could cost up to $65 million
Published: Sunday, January 15, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 17:08
On May 19, the world's most powerful leaders will gather in Chicago for two crucial diplomatic summits. Every year the G-8 and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) hold meetings in various international locations, but this is only the second time in history that both summits are being held simultaneously in the same city.
"I think the G-8 and NATO summits are a great opportunity for Chicago," said sophomore political science major and Model U.N. member Zachary Lassiter. "Chicago has become very prominent in foreign affairs due to the high number of consulates that reside in the city, but also specifically with the large Eastern European populations that call the city home."
While it is a wonderful opportunity for Chicago to shine and show off its thriving culture, spirit and architecture, the city will face numerous challenges preparing for the event because of the tremendous responsibility and public attention it will hold. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has cracked down in regards to security and protesting to ensure that the more than 7,500 officials and 2,500 press affiliates from 80 nations attending remain safe.
According to recent estimates released by the G-8/NATO host committee, costs for hosting the event could be between $40 million and $65 million. According to Lori Healey, executive director of the committee, Chicago will be reimbursed for the costs through private funds and federal grants.
The high cost comes with the massive preparations and security precautions that must be taken to keep the foreign dignitaries safe and ensure smooth transportation in and around the city.
Aside from the preparations, the city is expecting large-scale protests that are typical to these kinds of events. Chicago must plan and pay for additional law enforcement to maintain control over the expected protests.
Two weeks ago, Emanuel had already faced confrontation with protesters due to the new demonstration regulations that would have been implemented for the summits and remained in place. However, last Thursday officials from the City's Corporate Council announced that they planned to remove some restrictions regarding parades, such as having a Parade Marshall for every 100 participants and decreasing the duration of parade permits. Nevertheless, new ordinances are still being constructed, which will give officials more power and increase fines for disorderly conduct.
Many protesters have already spoken out against the city's ordinances, especially since they would remain in place permanently. They see the restrictions as limiting the constitutional right to assemble and creating an atmosphere that will agitate activists.
"(The protesters) may choose to challenge the limitations the permit places on their demonstration," said DePaul Law Vice Dean David Franklin. "Courts do look hard at the facts to make sure that the challenged regulations are in fact designed to promote neutral interests such as public safety rather than being designed to stifle speech. In general, regulations that are evenhanded are found to be constitutional, even when their effect on speech is fairly severe across the board."
The activists plan to stay resilient in their message and many protesters participating in the Occupy movement plan to be involved as well.
"There are very important agendas government has failed to achieve which motivates people to come and voice their opinion," said J.D. Bindenagel, Vice President for Community, Government, and International Affairs at DePaul. "There are issues of poverty, not having jobs, and social injustice. People should be able to share what they are concerned about, but hopefully they will remain peaceful while world leaders are present."
These critical meetings will consist of the most powerful leaders in the world who have been preparing for discussions on a wide variety of issues that have occurred over the past year. For NATO, international security, assisting Libya, and contingency plans for troop draw-downs in Afghanistan will be top priorities. The G8 represents more than half of the world's economy, and the summit will act as a forum to address concerns including deficit reductions, the Euro crisis, trade agreements, and job creation, to name a few key issues.
"The United States, United Kingdom, and Germany will most likely hold the most influence in the G-8 talks while the United States is going to have the most influence in discussions about issues pertaining to NATO," said Lassiter. "I believe that the summit will just be a continuation of pleasantries and diplomacy between the nations without anything vital or aggressive being agreed on.
"Plans may be brought up that include expanding the G-8, and how the debt will be paid off between North America, Europe, and Russia. NATO, however, may go further than just formulating plans and making verbal-like agreements depending on how the situations within the Asian Pacific, Middle East, and East Africa go in the coming months."
The issues being discussed will nonetheless draw the international attention of a wide variety of people in different fields from economics to world affairs. It will give the chance for Chicago to see firsthand how global concerns are addressed by key players from various countries.
"This is an exciting time and a special opportunity since very critical issues of the world will be discussed right down the street," said Bindenagel. "It will be a great occasion for students to experience. Chicago will certainly be in the middle of every single discussion while the summits are here."