Waterloo, ON - The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), in partnership with the Centre for Global Studies (CFGS), is well positioned to take the leading role in researching the feasibility of Prime Minister Martin's call for a Group of 20 at the leaders' level. Prime Minister Paul Martin addressed the important issue of establishing a G-20 at the leaders' level today to scholars in Washington. As Paul Martin said in his speech "The responsibility for good international governance falls ultimately upon the shoulders of the political leaders of the world's sovereign governments".

"The structure of a leaders' G-20 addresses the perceived deficiencies of the international system as it exists in its present state. It allows an open dialogue to occur not only between the existing institutions but also the new institutions in the international political economy" says John English, Executive Director of CIGI.

CIGI's G-20 Leaders' Level research will explore the feasibility and effectiveness of a Group of 20 at the leaders' level in resolving present, and potential, crises at the international level as well as address the fundamental deficiencies at the core of the existing structure of international governance. "We wanted to bridge the "us" versus "them" mentality that bedevils so many international meetings" Prime Minister Martin said earlier today.

There has been very strong enthusiasm, on the part of governmental and non-governmental institutions, that the G-20 be transformed from the G-20 Finance Ministers into a Summit of Leaders. Prime Minster Paul Martin has publicly endorsed the proposal.

This innovative project will establish the feasibility of a G-20 Leaders' Level through a series of seven conferences, each focusing on a theme of international relevance where a leaders' G-20 might add value. These themes are: Agricultural Subsidies and the WTO, the Post Kyoto Architecture, HIV/AIDS and Infectious Diseases, Terrorism and Weapons of Mass Destruction, Access to Water, Financial Crises and the Responsibility to Protect. Participants include world-class academics, practitioners, government official and civil society members such as Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz; Ngaire Woods, Director of the Global Economic Governance Program at Oxford University; Kishore Mahbubani, Singapore's Permanent Representative to the United Nations; and Yegor Gaidar, former Prime Minister of Russia.

Collectively these conferences will examine the questions of the future composition of the G-20, the impact on existing international institutions, the best means to engage the major powers and the future roles for civil society in the G-20.

"While the purpose of this G-20 project is to improve international governance, it is important that the efficacy and legitimacy of established international organizations not be compromised. The G-20 Leaders' Level would complement existing international bodies and actually strengthen them" says Paul Heinbecker, Senior Research Fellow at CIGI and former Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations. "The UN, in particular, will need the support and expertise of such organizations if it is to remain an effective forum for managing international relations".

"The G-20 Leaders' Level is a perfect example of how international networks at the government level can work to ensure positive global growth within the process of globalization" says Anne-Marie Slaughter, member of CIGI's International Board of Governors and Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. "These networks are a critical part of the infrastructure of global governance".

The Centre for International Governance Innovation is a Canadian-based international research institution to study, advise, and educate scholars, practitioners and governments on the character and desired reforms of the system of multilateral governance, particularly within the economic and financial area.

The opinions expressed in this article/multimedia are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of CIGI or its Board of Directors.