Anchoring G20 Inside the UN

pg. 10: The G20 is an informal group and should remain so in order to preserve its intimacy, wherein lies much of its potential to enhance system wide effectiveness. However, it needs to be embedded explicitly in the formal multilateral system in order to demonstrate more clearly its commitment to acting in the general interest and being accountable to the entire international community rather than simply to the national populations of its member countries. The report proposes a number of steps to anchor the G20 in the multilateral system as well as rationalize participation and inculcate a sense of systemic stewardship within it.


Readers' Guide Comment on “However, it [G20] needs to be embedded explicitly in the formal multilateral system” and “the report proposes a number of steps to anchor the G20 in the multilateral system”

WEF’s redefinition of the international system includes periodically co-locating ad hoc elite, non-state bodies inside formal intergovernmental institutions. In this fashion, WEF ensures that the current ad hoc bodies maintain their ‘independence’ while acting as if they are accountable to the wider international community. Temporarily co-locating the G20 would also act to preempt the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) from establishing an Economic Security Council. The G20 countries in ECOSOC are likely to block an ECOSOC consensus on an economic coordinating body on the grounds that a powerful economic coordinating body, the G20, already exists. It is interesting that WEF does not propose having the President of the General Assembly sit regularly at the table at G20 meetings as a representative of the other 172 countries. 1

Readers' Guide Comment on “the report proposes a number of steps.. [to] inculcate a sense of systemic stewardship within [the G20]”

A further element of the redefinition is to change the function of the heads of state who would normally represent their specific G20 countries. GRI recommends that when the G20 heads of state meet, they should see themselves as global managers, not just advocates for their national constituencies.

This argument is similar to one often made in difficult circumstances to national parliamentarians. When they meet at a national or European level, parliamentarians are often called upon to see themselves as national or regional leaders, not just as representatives of their local geographic area. As with the parliamentarians, the G20 heads of state know that they cannot move very far from a national position without risking the loss of domestic political support.

Yet the GRI is correct in recognizing that some form of transnational outlook is necessary in order to manage the globalized economy. But it will take more than a gentle appeal by WEF to change the character of heads of state and government when they are meeting together.

Related Ideas: Three Special Mechanisms; G20: The Global Leaders; Fixes to the G20; Fixes to the UN; Multi-stakeholder Governance; Experts Groups by Geo-Political Regions

The Readers' Guide welcomes comments with alternative examples or counter examples, supplemental assessments of the extracted GRI text or commentary – critical or otherwise – of the above interpretation of GRI’s perspective.

  1. ^ The Secretary-General is invited as a guest to the G20 meetings, but his senior advisors are not regularly invited to the crucial preparatory G20 Sherpa meetings.
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