The approaching Toronto summits have led me to a host of media encounters. As the world’s press turns its attentions to the two summits, reporters have been approaching many of us – whether at CIGI or at the Munk School of Global Affairs – to help them understand the summit agendas and the issues facing G8 and G20 leaders and officials.
A reporter called - rather late last night I might add – with a looming deadline to ask about the G20. The principal question from this reporter: to understand the impact of the developing states; and to determine whether these leaders of the developing states were likely to bring the voice of the developing states - including the least developed - into the room. Well, I was slightly flummoxed. So, I responded in part by suggesting that the terminology – this, the product of too many years in international relations – might be interfering with an answer.
And, indeed I was struck by the framing. In looking at the Gx institutions, particularly the G20 leaders summit, I look at the traditional states, the large emerging market power states and then some additional states. I seldom make reference to developing states and certainly don’t focus on the G20 setting as one bringing developing and developed states or north-south countries together.
And I think I am right. Certainly here at ‘Rising BRICSAM’ - but in the wider work on Global Institutional reform (GIR) – and work on Gx - I place great attention on the large emerging market powers, China, India and Brazil, especially but also attention on South Africa, Mexico, Turkey and Indonesia. Many of these so-called rising states are rapidly growing – indeed in many instances have been rapidly growing for some years – and the iconic ones contain significant poor populations. These states certainly at times see themselves – and do declare themselves to be – developing states still. In addition they remain sensitive to the needs of the poorest and often declare themselves to be “bridges” between developed and developing states. But in the end China, India and Brazil are new global leaders, regional powers, but also states capable of laying claim to being great powers.
The large emerging powers do consult with developing states and do speak to matters of fairness and greater global equality, but they also speak to their own populations, their histories and the perceived national interests of these states.
The G20 is an enlarged and more diverse leadership group. There are value differences and different policy perspectives. But I don’t think the G20 is a club where the north-south divide is engaged, or reengaged, as much as where this diverse leadership is engaged in trying to achieve collective commitments to meeting the challenges facing global governance – global economic growth, global financial reform, non-proliferation, development and climate change.