G-20: Forum of the future

The G-20 is the forum of the future.  See its web site at http://www.g20.org/. When the international system is in transformation because of a significant shift in the relative power of nations, as it may well be now, this shift could take place with violence or with a flurry of effective diplomacy.  Either way, the new, rising powers will take new, important positions in world affairs, with some authority relinquished by the powers in relative decline. 

G-20 Summit, November 2008.  Source: Wikipedia

G-20 Summit, November 2008. Source: Wikipedia


In late 1999, the G-7 called for the convening of the G-20, which was to include the 19 largest economies of the world plus a representative of the EU.  More or less this is what it contains today, with some adjustment to reflect population and regional diversity.  G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors have met periodically to discuss and coordinate economic policy, even though the forum is much more unwieldy than the G-7.  The IMF and World Bank attend as well.  Given the increasing importance of the larger, rapidly growing emerging economies included in the G-20, especially to international trade and financial flows, this will be the forum of the future, and the G-7, the traditional rich countries’ club, so prominent in headlines in recent decades, should wither on the vine.  A rotating troika of members manages the agenda of the G-20.  If such rising powers as China, India and Brazil are accorded greater influence in the world through such fora as the G-20, the IMF and other IFIs, the UN, the WTO, and in bilateral relations between states, their rise can occur peacefully.  Likewise, their rise could blaze a path for other rising powers, including Iran, which could eventually be integrated in global institutions that promote peace and prosperity.

The global financial crisis convinced Western leaders to call a summit of the G-20 in November 2008, one which Bush hosted and Obama declined to attend, but which produced an agenda to address the crisis.  On March 14, following a ministerial-level meeting of the G-20, a communiqué and an annex on lending were issued, providing an updated agenda for the next G-20 summit on April 2 in England.  Stay tuned…


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