Pascal Lamy: G-20 and the Triangle of Global Governance

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Pascal Lamy: G-20 and the Triangle of Global Governance
The German Marshall Fund - Brussels Forum 2010
Global economic integration and the ambitious domestic reforms of past decades have led to a shifting balance of power in global economic activity and governance, with several large developing economies gaining significant ground and influence. This trend has been greatly accelerated and reinforced as a consequence of the Great Recession of 2008–2009. Several of the emerging economic giants--most notably China and India--were able to fend off tremendous external economic shocks at a time when Europe and the United States were being hit hard. In this context, the G20 emerged to eclipse the G7/G8 to become "the steering committee of the world economy"--one of the most unforeseen and significant consequences of the economic crisis.While many observers agree in principle that the official elevation of the G20 at the Pittsburgh Summit in September 2009 recognizes important realities in an increasingly multi-polar and interdependent world, the group’s raison d'etre has nevertheless been challenged on several grounds. First and foremost, the G20 has been criticized for a lack of legitimacy. Without an international agreement, it is unclear who decides on the composition G20 membership, structure and scope, and its membership rotation mechanism. Others argue that the G20 membership is too large and diverse to effectively address pressing global challenges. Nor has the replacement of the G7/8 by the G20 been matched by complementary reforms in the established international economic institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization (WTO)--and without such changes, critics argue that the elevation of the G20 is not in itself an adequate reflection of the need to embrace changing global economic realities.