For information on the G7/8 there is one must stop. It is the G8 Research Group. This Group is led by University of Toronto’s political science professor, director and co-founder of the G8 Research Group. It is a major if not the major global source on G7/8. Indeed, at the website you can find documents and analysis on every annual meeting, plus obligations undertaken by the member countries - The United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, (the EU is also present), Japan Russia. It is a treasure trove. And John Kirton, well he’s a walking encyclopedia. All you need do is ask him anything about any of the Leaders’ Summits, and in a flash John will tell you exactly what was decided in any of meetings from 1975 to the present.
The G8 Group’s examination of this organization and closely related ones such as the G20 cause the group to focus, as the Group sees it on, “the shaping of the new international order in such areas as security, trade policy, human rights, development assistance and macroeconomic coordination.” The Research Group suggests that the G8 system is “the one system of international institutions providing effective political direction of our rapidly evolving world.” And that’s the critical point. The examination of the G7/8 the John Kirton chapter and in other chapters from the Cooper and Antkiewicz economic statecraft volume looking at the Heiligendamm Process presume that the G7/8 is a significant international governance institution. The G7/8 clearly is in the Great power or executive club tradition of global governance. The G7/8 is important because of the objective collective power of these club members, first but also because this organization attempts to exercise wider management in the international system. As soon as the expert or analyst accepts the bona fides of the great power model, then a debate breaks out about legitimacy and effectiveness of the current G7/8 and its membership. Thus, Andy Cooper in his introduction to the volume entitled, “The Heiligendamm Process: Structural Reordering and Diplomatic Agency.” raises the conundrum: “Increasingly, though, the G8 faces an accentuated double crisis of legitimacy and efficiency. …The group’s underrepresentation of emerging powers from the global South erodes its ability to set priorities for the international community. It is here that the O5 or the BRICSAM membership - the objective power of the group and their motivation and behavior - comes in for close scrutiny. Do these powers want in - and if they do on what terms? Finally, we what we are left with at this juncture is an examination of process. Is the HP process a key means to achieving a larger, more legitimate cast with the capacity of a Great power club to manage more effectively international governance? This a priori question of global governance authority, then is critical. As various blog posts have suggested there is no unanimity over the membership of an expanded G7/8 and whether the BRICSAM leaders consider the G7/8 as the appropriate locus of global governance. Particularly among the BRICSAM there are strong reservations over a Great power model of governance and open expressions of support for a universal UN model. A number of BRICSAM leaders from countries such as India and Brazil were intensely exercised over enlargement of UNSC and not concerned much at all over G7/8 expansion. It is why the recent blog post on Yekaterinburg and the O5 Foreign Ministers’ communique is intriguing since it tilts so strongly towards the universal model of global governance.
Whether enlargement to the G8 occurs and is judged successful then builds on these critical questions about the relevant governance model, the structure, including the legitimate membership and then behavior - effectiveness. An analysis needs to then focus on the G8 leaders and the attitudes of the O5 or the B(R)IC SAM. In upcoming blog posts we will divide this analysis into two parts - looking first at the rich countries - the G7/8 and then turning to the O5 or G5 or BRICSAM, BRICs, B(R)ICSAM, however you intend to categorize the emerging powers. Now in doing so, we are splitting John Kirton’s article as well as Andy Cooper’s. John saw his chapter as accomplishing the following: “This study presents a detailed analysis of the past, present and potential future of the Heiligendamm Process and emerging G13 as a contributor to, and a centre of, global governance.” According to John, “It [the chapter] argues that the prospects for the HP to produce an eventual G13 are more promising than the existing analyses and early skeptical mood of G8 governors suggest.” Andy Cooper in his introduction adds a compelling insight: the process of adding these newly emerging large powers - the BRICSAM is unusual. As Cooper argues, “Bringing big emerging powers into global governance as a means to temper conflict is far more novel, whether conflict is interpreted in a classic geo-political fashion or stretched out to include economic rivalry.” So it is a daunting challenge in reforming global governance. Can it happen and is the Heiligendamm Process a step to global governance reform? As Cooper suggests, “Breaking with orthodoxy before this stage is reached takes far more imagination with regard to the capacity for responsiveness to balance order and innovation”
In all this analysis - HP, G7/8 UN reform, BRICSAM - the roadmap is: global governance model, structure (membership) and then attitude and behavior.