HARARE, ZIMBABWE—In a hotel ballroom eight miles outside Zimbabwe's capital city, representatives from the world's 175 least powerful nations met this week to discuss how everything—from political unrest, to insurmountable debt, to bloody social strife—can't get any worse.
The annual summit, held in a different embattled and deeply troubled country each year, is aimed at addressing a wide range of issues currently facing the world's most helpless leaders. According to organizers, this year's G-175 will focus primarily on the challenges of global inequality, most notably how much of it there is, and how almost nothing can be done about it.
"We have gathered here this evening to address the utter hopelessness we all face," said Bangladeshi prime minister Sheikh Hasina, who presided over the four-day conference. "Whether stricken by crippling inflation, devastating war, or horrific spells of famine, it is time for us to come together as one and agree that pretty much everything is in the toilet."
Added Hasina, "Now then, all those in favor of sighing loudly and looking around in desperation for some kind of answer, please say aye."
The dignitaries, who traveled from all across the world, arrived early Thursday morning to tackle a week's worth of possible resolutions. Items on the schedule included a motion to sit in hopeless resignation as the terrifying spread of hepatitis claimed the lives of millions, as well as a multilateral treaty, signed by all present, to shake their heads in defeat and disgust at rising poverty rates.
Three hours of official cursing at G-20 nations and their inherent wealth and greed followed.
"Our people are starving," said Tanzanian minister of agriculture Steven M. Wasira, contributing to a heated debate over whether all nations involved were completely screwed or absolutely fucked. "We cannot grow anything in the north because of the drought, and flooding in the south has stopped us from harvesting what little food we do have. I come here today to ask that you please help the poor citizens of my—"
Wasira's plea ended abruptly when the Days Inn ballroom the summit was using had to be cleared for a 5 p.m wedding reception.
According to G-175 attendees, the international conference had a more productive second day. A series of seminars, including "Coping With Being Ignored By The U.N.," "The Welcome Respite Of Impending Death," and "At Least We Haven't Been Swallowed Whole By The Earth Yet," provided frantic world leaders with some unviable solutions.
In addition, representatives from nations lacking in the most basic of daily amenities found hope Friday when a motion to steal soap, shampoo, and hand towels from their hotel rooms was successfully ratified.
The summit has also seen some setbacks. Military coups in several G-175 countries, including two in Thailand, delayed a number of panel discussions Saturday. And on Sunday, a meeting about burning dung as an alternative energy source was postponed when a Belarusian representative attempted to take control of the summit in an armed insurrection before being shot and killed
Despite the low profile of this year's meeting, hundreds of protestors gathered in front of the hotel, overturning cars, setting fires, and throwing tear gas into the streets. Though it was later determined that two-thirds of those on hand were actually fighting in an unrelated civil war, G-175 leaders did not escape without their share of criticism.
"From what I can see, the member nations have gathered here to indulge in a lot of backslapping," G-175 protestor Baakir Ha-zaru said. "They devoted an entire day to discussing how we are powerless to stop the spread of AIDS. Well, what about discussing how we are powerless to stop the spread of typhoid fever, or even malaria for that matter? This is simply unacceptable."
On the final day of the summit, G-175 leaders voted unanimously that Iceland, which had previously been thought to be faring quite well, was actually doomed to failure like all the others. Before the closing remarks could bring the meeting to a formal end, the facilities had to be evacuated due to a carbon monoxide leak.
"We've made real progress over these past few days," Papua New Guinea's representative Beida Enuma said. "For instance, we realized that, while members of the G-20 are suffering under the weight of a crushing global recession, we haven't noticed it at all. So, in a way, things are actually sort of looking up."