The Group of Twenty and the Evolution of Global Governance
By Joan Veon
September 28, 2009
In 1994 when I covered my first global meeting, there was a press briefing by the Commission on Global Governance on their forthcoming report, Our Global Neighborhood. The man giving the briefing was one of the co-chairs, Sir Shridath Ramphal who was not only president of Guyana but also president of the (British) Commonwealth Association. As I read the glossy brochure, I thought he meant “global government” to which he replied “No, no, no we mean global governance.” When I asked about a global currency, he laughed and said, “No, not for a long time.”
The meeting recently held in Pittsburgh comprised the third meeting of the heads of state and finance ministers from the Group of Twenty nations: the developed countries led by the United States, Canada, Great Britain, France, Italy, Japan, Russia and Germany and the top developing countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, and Turkey, as well as the European Union. Together, they represent 85% of the world’s Gross Domestic Product-GDP and 80% of world trade.
The Group of Eight-G8 began meeting in 1973 when Richard Nixon called together the leaders of four countries to determine how the world would be run economically now that he had put the world currencies on a floating basis when he removed the last ties the dollar had to gold in 1971. A formal meeting was held in 1975 in France with five countries and soon it was seven countries known as the Group of Seven until 1998 when Russia was officially admitted. Since 1975, whatever decision these seven or eight countries came to was law and if the rest of the countries of the world knew what was good for them, they would follow suit. In short, the Group of Eight acted as a “Global Board of Directors” for the world. Over the years, they expanded their purview to include every facet of government: labor, education, transportation, trade, housing, finance and the environment.