G20 leaders weigh ‘new generation’ of challenges to global government
World leaders examined at the weekend frameworks for global governance ahead of a G20 summit in Seoul, with UN chief Ban Ki-Moon stressing no single power could tackle key issues alone.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying told the World Policy Conference (WPC) in Marrakech: “We see eye to eye on the challenges,” and added that “we need to find a better way to cooperate, to find a partnership.”
The forum was also addressed by Ban, European Central Bank president Jean-Claude Trichet, EU commissioner Joaquin Almunia, government ministers and business and social leaders.
With the G20 meeting on November 11-12 set to be dominated by currency disputes and the threat of protectionist measures, the WPC theme of global governance in finance, the economy and politics was a timely issue.
“No country or group — no matter how powerful — can take on the major issues of the day alone,” Ban said in his address.
Ban underscored three poles of focus, help for the poor and vulnerable, the fight against climate catastrophes, and “new-generation” issues like migration, health research and the fight against organised crime and terrorism.
Leaders needed to strive in particular “for a world economy that works for all people not just a fortunate minority,” the UN chief said.
Almunia said the 27-member European Union had to strengthen its cohesion to contribute to global leadership but also allow emerging countries a greater voice in institutions like the International Monetary Fund.
Referring to past talks with leaders from China, emerging countries and the United States, Almuniaacknowledged that if Europe had one position “then it does not need eight Europeans around the table”.
A sub forum that focused on the meeting in Korea noted that “the issue of over-representation of the EU within the G20 needs to be addressed” as well.
The G20 has emerged at the leading format for global discussions since it represents 66 percent of the world’s population and 85 percent of its total output, but is nonetheless “a self-appointed group without any legal basis,” Korean researcher Wonhyuk Lim and French associate Francoise Nicolas noted.
France will assume the G20 presidency from South Korea next month.
The group must now “turn a transitory crisis management mechanism into a permanent instrument of global governance,” the academics added in a statement.
Trichet said such governance needed to be strengthened in the financial field in particular, and warned that a backlash to globalisation meant “more protectionist pressures might be in the pipeline.”
A growing spat over appropriate levels for currencies like the dollar, euro, yen, yuan, Brazilian real, Korean won and Thai baht has seen countries take actions that some observers have begun to call a “currency war.”
Good governance extends beyond governments, said Mohamed Ibrahim, the British-Sudanese founder of the Ibrahim Foundation that has established an African governance index that covers 88 aspects of the issue.
Ibrahim took European leaders to task on corruption, telling businessmen: “We can not have good governance in Africa if you are messing about or doing all this hanky panky sometimes you love to do.”
He pointed to a law that requires energy, mining and oil companies listed in the United States to publish their contracts and asked political leaders: “Where is the moral backbone of Europe?
“When is Europe going to match the United States and enact a similar law?”
Fu of China, described by one impressed WPC forum mediator as “an eye-opener,” concluded on an upbeat note.
“In the 21st century, the consensus is growing for the world not to be torn apart again by ideological, racial and any other differences,” she said in one speech.
“Changes to existing structure is not easy,” she added in another, but it is “probably the first time in the world that we are changing in a peaceful manner.”