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Friday, 03 September 2010 00:00

Stuck in Transition: Conflicting Ambitions For the G-20’s Future

Written by Alan S. Alexandroff
Fall 2010, Journal of the East Asia Foundation.

Click here to read the full briefing in the Journal.

Executive Summary:

When the global financial crisis erupted in 2008, a curious thing happened. The world turned to the Group of 20 nations, not the elite Group of 8, to call for collective action to avert another Great Depression. Since then, the G-20 has been hailed as the new forum for global leadership. But, as global governance specialist Alan S. Alexandroff argues, there are many obstacles to overcome before the G-20 can exercise that new leadership role.

This November’s summit of the Group of 20 nations in Seoul will be the first to be hosted by a country from outside the elite circle of the Group of 8. In the past, G-20 summits have been hosted by one of the traditional powers from either Europe or North America. So this is a singular event for South Korea, and it will give President Lee Myung-bak and his government a chance to bask in the spotlight as global governance leaders. Certainly South Korean officials and the wider cognoscenti in the country are treating it with the utmost importance, particularly as a reflection of the G-20’s emerging role as “the premier forum for international economic co-operation,” as the self-congratulatory communiqué from the 2009 Pittsburgh G-20 summit described the body.


Alan S. Alexandroff is Director Online Research Munk School of Global Affairs & Co-Director of the G-20 Research Group, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto.

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