Calls for a New International Governance System

In late 2008, global leaders, including then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, called for an overhaul of the “international financial architecture” in a manner akin to the 1944 Bretton Woods process . 1 Their suggestion prompted serious macro-economic discussions at the G20 meetings in Washington (2008) and London (2009) and ultimately resulted in agreements to pursue coordinated fiscal stimulus activities, enhanced economic policy coordination, and a refinancing of the IMF. Public talk about a “Bretton Woods II” (BWII) in the G20 context subsided but re-appeared within the broader UN context.

In early 2009, the General Assembly considered proposals to create an Economic Security Council as a way to reconstruct the Bretton Woods institutions inside the UN system. 2 This proposal, which would have been a de facto revision of the UN Charter, was quietly set aside by June 2009. The Copenhagen climate Conference of the Parties (COP) in December 2009 was seen by some as an opportunity to devise a system of climate governance which would reorient the international market toward a low-carbon economy. In the end, governments avoided, amongst other things, undertaking this systemic task under the UNFCCC umbrella.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Redesign Initiative comes out of this same period. 3 WEF’s engagement with global governance, however, has two significant differences. First, it comes on the heels of these high level government efforts, which looked at the reality of the imminent collapse of the international governance system and moved on when the immediate threat receded. Second, it comes after nearly five decades of experience with the annual gatherings of World Economic Forum in Davos Klosters and two decades of regional meetings in four continents. These WEF events have nurtured an informal environment between the invited leaders from governments, international business, professional bodies, the scientific community, international civil society, and popular culture. 4 As the GRI’s report states, it was time to take the corporate approach of Davos 5  to a new level.


The Readers' Guide welcomes comments with alternative examples or counter examples and commentary – critical or otherwise – of the above interpretation of the context of GRI project.

  1. ^ Hillary Rodman Clinton, then the “US First Lady”, made a similar recommendation to Davos in 1998, “I know there has been a great deal of useful conversation here about what needs to be done to help manage crisis such as … how to better provide technical assistance for banking supervision and the regulation of markets in many countries around the world, even suggestions as to what could be done to create more of a global regulator atmosphere along the lines of perhaps of a new Bretton Woods.” The First 40 Years, pg 158.
  2. ^ The 'UN system' is a technical expression that encompasses the UN proper, its funds and programmes (like UNDP), legally separate specialized agencies (like WHO), the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. While the WTO is the only major international organization that is not part of the UN system, its Director-General attends the biannual meeting of the heads of the UN system, called the Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB).
  3. ^ “It is fitting that in this anniversary year, as people around the world continue to feel the impact of the global economic crisis, the Forum will be deeply engaged in the Global Redesign Initiative (GRI). This is a wide-ranging review of the institutions and practices of global governance and the management of the global economy aimed at determining how the world should restructure the international system to better tackle the multiple challenges of globalization.” The First 40 Years, pg 2.
  4. ^ At the 2011 annual meeting, "Over 1,400 business leaders from the Forum’s 1,000 Member companies will take part in the Annual Meeting. Participants also include over 35 heads of state or government, with 19 of the G20 governments represented at ministerial level or higher. They are joined by government ministers, central bankers, top officials from international organizations, labour leaders, religious leaders, representatives of civil society, media and leading academics." Press Release, World Economic Forum Annual Meeting to Focus on Shared Norms for the New Reality, 19 January 2011.
  5. ^ GRI, pg 4.


Posted: 03-07-2013 01:52

Why are G20 countries participating more than other world countries?

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