“The Premier Forum” - Making the G20 permanent

“Today, we designated the G-20 as the premier forum for our international economic cooperation. We have asked our representatives to report back at the next meeting with recommendations on how to maximize the effectiveness of our cooperation. We agreed to have a G-20 Summit in Canada in June 2010, and in Korea in November 2010. We expect to meet annually thereafter, and will meet in France in 2011.”

With this paragraph from the “Leaders’ Statement: The Pittsburgh Summit,” and with the effort of President Obama, and apparently as well Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the G8 became the G-20 for economic global governance.  

Now questions do remain.  Canadian Prime Minister Harper at the conclusion of the Pittsburgh Summit seemed to emphasize that two meetings were going to take place in June at Muskoka: the G8 meeting – the original meeting planned for Muskoka - and, in addition the G20. Harper declared, “They will be distinctive summits.”  Now it is evident that the attention of the two meetings could well differ.  The G20 is mandated to focus on the global economy; the G8 seems to retain global security measures.  It would seem – possibly not surprisingly – that Canada is trying to maintain the G8 club even though American officials earlier suggested that the G8 would no longer schedule an annual gathering but would instead meet at other gatherings of leaders.  We will have to see.

The emergence of the G20 is a vindication, at least, for the growing influence of the large emerging markets – China, India and Brazil, plus evidently some others.  So, the G20 emergence appears to have quieted critics over the  the legitimacy debate.  Banished I suspect is the continuing attack on the G8 for being a rich-states’ gathering, though the many counties not officially engaged - the so called '192 club' will not be, I suspect, permanently silenced.

If legitimacy has been presumbly quieted through the expansion to the G20, it is apparent already, that effectiveness will be a rising concern.  The Leaders’ statement is a quite complex document.  It includes a commitment for a framework for strong, sustainable and balanced growth – a framework for global imbalances, strengthening the international financial regulatory system including a commitment to develop rules for bank capital, reform compensation practices for banks, improving over-the-counter derivatives markets, reforming the mandate, mission and governance of the IMF, development banks, energy security and climate change, support for the least developing countries, and repeat of past commitments to avoid protectionism and to conclude the Doha Development Round by 2010. 

As we argued in an earlier blog post here, “The ‘Goldilocks Solution’ to Global Governance,” a key dimension of global governance is effectiveness.  This global governance dimension is complex.  It does include commitment – and the there is much to admire in this Leaders' Statement.  But implementation is a second critical branch of effectiveness.  And much of this “follow through” requires national action – executive action to be sure but often additionally legislative action. All this poses a complicating factor in determining and then evaluating effectiveness.

Effectiveness will be a critical question by the time the G20 Leaders Summit gather again in Canada at Muskoka.     

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