Who should run the world?

Posted in fantasy, foreign policy by jrahman on June 30, 2010

The people of the world, of course!  Well, that should be the answer for a blog about liberty.  And in my most idealistic of moments, that’s the answer.  But, sadly, I don’t have many such moments — something about being a Gen X and cynicism I guess.

So, how does a realist answer this question?  The realist answer usually rests on some ‘great power club’ — UN Security Council, the US-USSR duopoly of power that is replaced by the US-China duopoly after a few years of US hyperpowerdom, or perhaps the G20 according to the hypes surrounding the last week’s summit.

Without getting into how effective G20 is, let’s explore whether it should run the world, and ask if there is an alternative club that can do better? 

First thing to note is that in a G20 meeting, there are actually a lot more than 20 participants.  There are 19 countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.  Then the European Union is represented by the European Commission and the European Council. 

In addition to these 21, seven international organisations have a seat at the table: Financial Stability Forum, the International Labour Organisation, the IMF, the OECD, the UN, the WTO, and the World Bank.

And then, in each summit, the host invites a bunch of countries — the latest summit had Ethiopia, Malawi, Netherlands, Nigeria, Spain and Vietnam, bringing the number of attendees at the G20 summit to 34!

The World Cup has 32 pariticipants.  Maybe the World Cup participants should run the world.  But since this would mean Bangladesh will have no chance to be in such an elite club, I don’t like this idea.

More seriously, the work of  Enrique Rueda-Sabater and colleagues from the Center for Global Development points to a better way run the world (okay, their preferred term is ‘global governance’).  The authors argue that a global governance body for the 21st century should be based on two criteria.  First, it has to represent as many people of the world as possible.  Second, to be effective, it has to include as few members as possible with as much resources that can be mustered so that decisions can be implemented. 

Their solution is a ‘2 per cent club’, consisting of the countries that are projected to have at least 2 per cent of the world population or the world economy in 2020.  Members of this 2 per cent club: Bangladesh, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, Spain, the UK and the US.

From the G20, Australia, Canada, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Korea and Turkey miss out; while Bangladesh, Nigeria, Pakistan and Spain get in. 

Maybe this is what will get the PM that Nobel she craves.

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