The twelfth meeting of the Group of Twenty in Hamburg marked the end of a global governance system centered on the United Nations and the rise of a new system based on a league of developed nations.
The G20, a group that brings together nations representing the nineteen largest economies in the world plus the European Union, emerged as the main global policy forum.
By the end of World War II such a role was conceived for the United Nations and its specialized agencies. However, since the early sixties, the General Assembly became the hostage of groups of developing nations, such as the G77 and the Non-Aligned Movement, that used it as a venue to advance their objectives, which were frequently conflicting with those of developed countries.
The problem of the United Nations is that it was formed with an unrealistic criterion of governance: the one vote-one nation system, which does not take in consideration the political and economic relevance of each country.
In order to correct such an error, the founding nations of the U.N. System decided to create the Security Council, an organ in which five countries have veto power, and so each one of them has the ability to paralyze the work of the entire U.N. System.
Inevitably, the extensive use of veto power undermined the work of the United Nations, reducing its ability to effectively deal with global issues.
A clear example is the recent Russian veto of a resolution drafted by the United States and China to condemn North Korean missile tests. The absence of an effective system of global governance hampers the coordination of a multilateral response to the North Korean crisis.
If the United Nations actually represented an efficient system of global governance, the great powers would not need a G20 forum to discuss global policy today. These issues would be discussed within the framework of United Nations conferences.
The failure to bring about a structural reform of the United Nations induced the international community to develop alternative, less bureaucratic forums to find solutions to world problems, such as the G7 and the G20.
The G20 was founded in 1999 to promote international financial stability. Since then, its mission has expanded to include climate change, nuclear nonproliferation, migration, health, women empowerment, and the war on international terrorism.
Because of its limited membership, the G20 has a better ability to reach consensus than the United Nations. However, it does not have rules to define voting powers, jurisdiction, and enforceability of resolutions. It also lacks the basic elements of an organization, such as a permanent secretariat.
The recent meeting in Hamburg achieved a few concrete results, such as a cease fire in Syria, unanimous commitment to fight protectionism and support free trade, and closer cooperation on fighting terrorism.
The international community needs an efficient international institution to deal with global issues. With a permanent secretariat and a set of rules, the G20 might be the solution to the current crisis of global governance, and in the future it could overtake the role of the United Nations as the world’s main policymaking institution.
Francesco Stipo is the President of the Houston Energy Club, a member of the National Press Club in Washington D.C., a Fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science, and recently joined the Bretton Woods Committee. Born in Italy in 1973, Dr. Stipo is a naturalized United States citizen. He holds a Ph.D. in International Law and a Master Degree in Comparative Law from the University of Miami. To read more of his reports, Click Here Now.
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