Diplomatic Courier (Washington, DC)
Jamie Bowen
Tuesday, June 22, 2010

In light of the upcoming G8 and G20 summits taking place in Canada this weekend, three leading global think tanks—the Centre for International Governance Innovation in Canada, the Stanley Foundation in the United States, and the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations—joined to weigh in on the issues on a mini-summit called “Three Voices.”

Canadian Voice. Canada plays host of the G8 and co-host to the G20 summit with the Republic of Korea. Both summits present significant challenges for the Canadian leadership. Prime Minster Stephen Harper said on the G20’s ongoing crisis work, “The G20 process has proven critical to our collective response to the global recession. This represents an unprecedented opportunity for Canada to demonstrate leadership as we continue our work on the economy and in defining the path forward.” The G8 is no longer the main body on economic issues, but Canada has stressed that the G8 will stay active in matters such as development and international peace and security.

Canadian leadership is also focused on demonstrating to the world determination. Prime Minister Harper said that it is critical to advance a common agenda in the G8 summit, an agenda of peace and security, and democracy and development. There is also a commitment in securing the implementation of post crisis-commitments that were set forth from the past three summits. Canada is focused on past commitments rather than implementing new ones. By focusing on past commitments, Canada is drawing on accountability. This “accountability” is a reminder that in past summit leaders have failed to implement policies.

Another goal for the summit is shared responsibility. Prime Minister Harper said, “The real test of the G20 going forward is that it develops and sustains among its members a sense of shared responsibility towards the global economy.” Canada has also emphasized sticking to the fiscal stimulus programs agreed to by the G20 leaders and coordinating exit strategies. Canada will probably urge G20 leaders to address the imbalances that could threaten the global economy.

Chinese Voice. With the recent recovery of the global market, China is looking for a better position in world governance to keep order stability. Since there has been progress in world governance since the financial crisis, world development should be the new focus. China wants the establishment of the G20 as the premier forum for international economic cooperation and to carry out stricter supervision of financial activity. However, the summit has been faced with many problems from the past.

Currently, the summit is faced with problems of legitimacy, representativeness, efficiency and overlapping of international institutions. These problems need to be addressed. International relations have become more complicated in an era of globalization. Many people don’t recognize the G8 as legitimate enough. There have been talks of combining the G8 with the G20, increasing representativeness. However, this could lead to just having a larger group of talkers instead of adding legitimacy. Scholars persist that the issue needs to be further investigated before anything is done.

American Voice. The American Think Tank posits that the extent of international leadership is to carry the torch when the world is faced with problems by using diplomatic influence to find solutions. Currently the world is faced with a lack of international cooperation when it comes to solving pressing global problems such as the economic downturn, global warming, and nuclear proliferation.

The world has shared interests and often shares the same problems, but questions of how the degree the problems they share are make consensus on solving them in concert difficult.