Center for Governance and Sustainability

at the University of Massachusetts Boston

Three Special Mechanisms

These Steps, Tools, and Building Blocks are finally supplemented by Special Mechanisms.

As a supplement to this First Step, WEF introduces two Special Mechanisms. The First Special Mechanism provides an elaboration on how the G20 should function internally and how it should be incorporated into the UN. WEF sees that:

"The Group of 20 Leaders process 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 frame for themselves an ongoing role as steward of a new model of global economic growth and integration."  1

The Second Special Mechanism calls for using the 2012 Rio Conference as the testing ground for replacing intergovernmental agreements with a system of governance that gives a central role to non-state actors, particularly the private sector. This special mechanism was articulated just after the Rio+20 Conference was authorized by the General Assembly. It appears to have been given the status of a special mechanism, as the Major Group structure of the Rio process could have provided a relatively easy transitional structure to introduce GRI’s multi-stakeholder governance system. However, the preparatory process for the June 2012 conference did not engender the same level of governmental, corporate, civil society, or media attention as the original Rio Conference and in the end followed a more traditional state-centric preparatory process.

The Third Special Mechanism is more general; it calls for “enabling a more proactive and integrated form of cooperation.” This Special Mechanism seems to have a technological component and a forward-strategizing component. On the technical side, GRI seeks to incorporate international web-based engagement as an explicit part of international governance by, for example, calling for crowd-sourced monitoring of elections in fragile states.

On the forward-looking side, this Third Special Mechanism is a call for: 

widen[ing] our conception of the modes and means of cooperation available in our more complex, bottom-up world, and applying this expanded cooperative geometry in a pragmatic, targeted push for results . . . even when an expansion of universal norms and legal obligations is not politically feasible.   2


Related Ideas - Special Mechanism One - Added LeadershipDriving Synergy; Early harvestG20 + 3Gs; G20 Stewardship; G20+ECOSOCInformal GatheringsAnchoring G20 inside the UN

Related Ideas - Special Mechanism Two - Enabling Action; FisheriesInformal conference planning; Public-Private; Driving Synergy

Related Ideas - Special Mechanism Three - Crowdsourcing; Direct Interaction; Fisheries

The Readers' Guide welcomes commentary – critical or otherwise – of the above interpretation of GRI’s perspective and the issues involved.


  • 1. ^ GRI, pg 10.
  • 2. ^ GRI, pg 4.
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