Reforming Global Governance

We were originally going to look at global governance reform at the end of the semester, but because of the need to accommodate guest speakers, we will be looking at this issue in our next class. I uploaded some readings on the issue (two by Thomas Weiss of CUNY, one by John Ikenberry of Princeton University, and one by Anthony Payne of Chatham House) to the WebCT course content area.

You might also read these policy briefs and postings on the website of the Brookings Institution, the think tank in Washington, DC. In this December 2008 paper, Brookings Non-Resident Fellow Colin Bradford, Wolfensohn Center for Development Executive Director Johannes Linn, and Paul Martin, the former prime minister of Canada, discuss the implications of the emergence of the G20 as the main forum for addressing the global economic crisis. In this September 2009 essay, Brookings Senior Fellow Daniel Kaufmann calls on the G20 member countries to examine the quality of their own national governance. In this September 2009 article, Wolfensohn Center Senior Fellow Homi Kharas looks at what the G20 summit in Pittsburgh meant for non-G20 developing nations. Finally, in this September 2009 piece, Bradford reacts to the announcement that the G20 will permanently replace the G7/8 as the premier institution for managing the global economy.

The question is whether the G20 will be more effective an institution of global governance than the G8 because of its wider membership – or will that more representative membership make it more difficult to reach any meaningful consensus. Should the international community be thinking of an even bigger forum – the G30? Or would smaller be better? Perhaps what the world needs is an informal G2 that brings together the US and China to sort out priorities and problems between themselves first as a way to build coalitions of the willing and catalyze global action.

What do you think?


2 Responses to “Reforming Global Governance”

  1. 1 Chan Pui Ki, Kiki 09/11/2009 at 9:33 pm

    I think the G-20 is a more effective institution of global governance than the G-8 because of the representation of both developed and developing countries.

    Take the issue of climate change as an example. The major stumbling block to the negotiation of a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol is the conflicting view between developing and developed countries, with the former contending that they did not create the existing trend of climate change and the latter declining to shoulder its full costs. While the Conference of the Parties is so big that it is unlikely for 192 countries to compromise, the G-8 is so small that no developing countries are represented. The G-20, however, has incorporated the biggest greenhouse gas emitters. It can develop common views before discussion is held in higher-level institutions. Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations Secretary General, indeed urged the G-20 to do this.

    Though the G-20 has been designated as the premier forum for managing the global economy, this does not invalidate the necessity of other groupings. Consensus reached in larger groups may be aggregated by countries which are present in smaller groups. China and other emerging countries, for example, may articulate the views of their developing counterparts and bring them into such groups as the G-20 and potentially the G-2. Alternatively, when consensus on issues is consolidated within the G-20, the G-20 may gradually expand its membership to include more countries.

  2. 2 Hannah, Smith 18/11/2009 at 11:30 am

    I have to agree with the above, that the G-20 has proved to be a fairly successful institution with regards to including both developed and developing countries in discussions.

    I do however question whether institutions such as these, or the EU as mentioned in another thread really do constitute Global Governance.

    Yes, these institutions promote regional integration, and large scall cooperations stemming from this. Factor in larger, almost multi-regional institutions such as the UN, and the scope of these insitutions becomes clear.

    If we follow a constructivist trajectory of ‘international norms’ it is again apparent that notions of human rights for example are taking hold at every corder of the globe.

    But can this be Global Governance if nobody directly governs?
    Let me be clear, I do draw a sever distinction between governance and government, but a series of regional institutions working together for me do not ential either. Perhaps this is due to my International Relations bacckground, but from literature I have read in the past, the key notions were to establish a small number of authoratative bodies – overriding the sovereign state – and having effective control. Overriding the anarchical state to state system would ultimately prevent war as a heirarchical order replaced the anarchy.

    Perhaps I am not giving our current institutions enough justice, and it could well be said that they may develop into having greater reach and authority, but it seems that until the anarchical system of sovereign states is regulated, true and effective global governance will not exist.


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