Readers' Guide Comment on “by also articulating a set of aspirational principles… they frame for themselves an ongoing role as steward of a new model of global economic growth and integration"
WEF's redefinition of the international system moves the articulation of aspirational goals from the General Assembly and the governing bodies of the specialized agencies to an elite group of 20 heads of state. The global conferences of the 1970s and 1980s, which involved NGOs, governments, and business leaders, did set new aspirational goals for the international community. Since the 1990s, critics of the UN system, a good number of MNCs, and key OECD countries have campaigned against any new conferences as they were uncomfortable with the idea of popular participation in setting new global standards. These same critics, MNCs, and governments also objected to the creation of any new organizations to implement the goals articulated in these conferences.
The argument that the G20 now serves as the body to formulate aspirational goals undermines calls for future global conferences of the kind that were quite effective in setting significant international goalposts. If just the G20 countries recommend policy goals, it will also undermine the full intergovernmental system from ensuring effective programs to meet these goals, developing soft law in that policy space, or negotiating legally binding conventions.
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