Much discussion of new international organizations has accompanied the recent examination of global governance reform in the light of the completed US Presidential election and now the global financial meltdown.  There is much contention over the nature of reorganization.

There appears to be three distinct models that advocates of global governance reform have raised.  The first is: the ‘Universalist model of the UN - everybody gets in, everybody has a voice.  This universalist consensus model is modified at least in the security realm (but not only)  by the Security Council that sits atop the universalist and includes a global representation (by way of regions) but includes the P5 - the permanent members - that hold a veto - the UK, France, China, Russia and the United States.  But this universalist model works its way through UN organizations to include climate change, proliferation, health pandemics, etc. Though there was much talk about expansion of the UNSC (plus much discussion over the P5 veto) leading up to the UN Leaders Summit in 2005 the effort failed spectacularly and most today suggest that SC expansion is a distant hope.

Then there is the Concert/League ‘League of Democracies’ concept that was raised in the the 2007 final report of the Princeton Project on National Security, written by the co-directors Dean Anne-Marie Slaughter and Professor G. John Ikenberry of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, debated in academic and public policy circles and then raised during the recent Presidential election where the Republican candidate, Senator John McCain endorsed a ‘muscular’ League  version of this democratic only executive committee.  As envisioned this club forum is made up solely of democratic countries - though exactly which countries are included - does vary with the proposals. There are many differences in the Concert/League proposals.  Generally in the Concert versions these clubs represent a forum to strengthen reform in the UN  and only act as an alternative to the UNSC where the UN fails to act.  The Republican vision is more directly a SC replacement generally viewing the UN as a failure.  Such an assessment generally derives from UN inaction on such matters as humanitarian intervention and such inaction then is laid at the doorstep of Russia and China, both veto-wielding members of the P5.

Finally, there is the ‘Executive Club’ model.  This global governance approach to organizational reform and leadership usually starts, usually with the G7 or G8 (Russia included) and then enlarges the club with the addition of at least the EGP (at least the BRICs) or the Outreach 5 - China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa or, as in the case of the MGI Project the G8 plus the G5 plus the Islamic 3 - Turkey, Indonesia, Egypt or Nigeria.  These Executive Club approaches consciously avoid the democratic-autocratic divide and focus on enlarging the executive committee to integrate in particular the BRICs or BRICSAM or something quite close to these larger groupings of emerging power leadership.

Recently Professor Steven Stedman, has waded into the debate with a policy brief from The Stanley Foundation entitled, “America and International Cooperation: What Role for a League of Democracies.” Professor Stedman we last encountered as the co-director of the Brookings MGI Project, just mentioned above and in a recent BRICSAM Rising blog post.  With strong resonance from the MGI Project, Professor Stedman focuses on US leadership in the global governance world:  “It’s hard to see any institution generating more effective global cooperation without a change in America’s leadership style and foreign policy.”(p.8)

Professor Stedman is a strong critic of the Concert/League approach to global governance reform.  While more open to the reformist strengthening Concert view, as opposed to the League replacement vision, he concludes that the cost to great power division is not worth the benefit of a democratic club: “It would be folly, however, to base American foreign policy and strategies for international order on this ideal [a democratic concert/league] because democracies alone will not provide the international cooperation essential for countering transnational threats. Security, prosperity, stopping deadly infectious disease, and solving global warming require cooperation with non-democracies.   … The key challenge is not to find a way for 60 to 100 democracies to construct a shared identity and common interests; it is to find a way to bring old and new sources of power to bear on the problems of the 21st century.” (p. 9)

As we’re aware from the MGI “A Plan for Action” Professor Stedman supports an executive club approach to reform - in this case a G16: “there is the need for an institution that would forge patterns of cooperation between the major and rising powers, helping them to identify shared interests, reach common understandings, and build trust. Such an institution would best be created by replacing the current G-8 with a new G-16…” (p.8)

I will return to the optimal form of organizational reform and how to get there in upcoming blog posts.  In particular, I hope to preview Stanford’s James Fearon’s entry into this debate entitled, “”An International Organization for Democracies.”  This chapter has been recently been received by yours truly as Jim’s contribution to the Princeton Summer Workshop arising from CIGI’s GIR Project.  Though Jim was unable to attend Princeton in late August, his early memo on a Concert/League raised much interest and controversy.

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