G20 Stewardship

pg. 10: The G20 represents the international community’s best potential mechanism for mobilizing systemic leaps forward in international cooperation. Composed of the top leaders of most of the world’s largest countries, it has the requisite authority to set priorities and marshal resources in order to orchestrate system-wide responses to problems. . . . by also articulating a set of aspirational principles and establishing a mutual policy assessment process, they framed for themselves an ongoing role as steward of a new model of global economic growth and integration.


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.

Related Ideas: Three Special Mechanisms; G20: The Global Leaders; Fixes to the G20; MNCs as Governing Actors

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