Wednesday, July 07, 2010

A Critical Review of an Overgrown Summit

Shortly after the Toyako Summit in 2008, I asked some questions about the Summit, because it has diverged from the foundation ideal by Valery Giscard d’Estaing. Originally, it was a conference of free discussions among leaders of top industrialized democracies without bureaucratic interference. Today, the Summit has become overgrown, and a tremendous amount of money and manpower is spent for conference preparation and security. In face of vehement criticism by global left wingers, the Summit has expanded from G8 to G20 to include rising economies in Asia, Africa and Latin America. However, I have a critical concern that an expanded Summit makes it increasingly difficult to reach a binding consensus. Also, a large scale international meeting imposes substantial burden on the host city. Even though current Summit includes members of the South, it does not soothe leftist vandalism, and citizens living in the host city are imperiled with violence. Therefore, it is necessary to make the Summit more coherent, more efficient, and smaller.

During the Muskoka G8 and the Toronto G20 Summit this June, a Canadian journalist James Travers said that G20 act beyond the premier forum for global economic cooperation and launch common strategic initiatives for world security. As he argues, “managing 21st century risks such as terrorism, climate change, poverty and financial chaos, requires coordinated communal responses.” That means, G20 assumes more legitimacy over G8 to manage the world economy. But, it also implies that the bigger does not necessarily mean the better (“Will bigger club make for better planet?”; Toronto Star; June 26, 2010).

In the following video by Russia Today on June 25, Ella Kokotis of the G8 Research Group at the University of Toronto says that there is a division of roles between G8 and G 20. G8 focuses on political security like nuclear proliferation in North Korea and Iran, African development, and climate change. On the other hand, G20 focuses on governance of the world economy.

It may be necessary to include rising economies to manage the world economy since the financial crisis. The problem is, they have relational power to make others accept their demands, but not structural power to manage diversified and complicated global issues. They cannot use their influence to make the system of global politics. An expanded Summit can make this annual event a Summit for the Summit. In order to make it more coherent, more efficient, and smaller, I would suggest that the annual Summit be restricted to either G7 or G8 (I agree with Senator John McCain and Senator Joseph Lieberman that Russia’s membership for G8 is questionable.), while hosting G20 Summit on ad hoc basis. This will reduce the burden to the host city and bureaucratic interference to the conference. Whether expanded or restricted, leftist complainers will complain.

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