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Values in Global Economic Governance: Do India, Brazil, and South Africa Share a Common Vision?

The Economic Diplomacy Programme at the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) held a seminar entitled ‘Values in Global Economic Governance: Do India, Brazil, and South Africa Share a Common Vision?’ on Tuesday, 30 October 2012.

Time: 09h00 - 16h15
Venue: Jan Smuts House, East Campus, University of Witwatersrand

As the world moves into an increasingly multipolar environment, leadership of the global economic system is increasingly thrown into question. The western institutional order, established in the aftermath of World War Two and sustained for decades by the major western powers under the leadership of the United States, no longer seems adequately equipped for the rapidly mounting challenges to global economic governance.

Rapidly rising emerging powers seem destined to take over leadership of the system at some future point, yet it may be some time before they are ready for it. Established western powers, particularly in Europe, are understandably reluctant to yield their prerogatives.

Whereas those western powers, represented particularly in the G7, broadly share a common liberal-democratic heritage, some of the new developing country powers represented in the G20 in particular do not share some of the values that underpinned the creation of the current institutional order. Yet in the absence of a shared values framework it will be difficult to transform the established institutional structures into suitable mechanisms for twenty first century global economic governance.

India, Brazil, and South Africa represent three interesting potential exceptions to the ‘values divergence’ conundrum. Each is a major developing country emerging power, very different in their cultural, political, and economic heritages, but sharing democratic political institutions of varying characteristics and embeddedness.

This feature sets them apart from countries like China and Russia, their partners in the newly established BRICS grouping. This makes them, and the IBSA grouping which they collectively constitute as an alternative formation for influencing global governance processes, particularly interesting to the established western powers. However, their economic interests diverge substantially – from each other and from the established western powers. Hence the interplay between their economic interests and value preferences in relation to global economic governance, and the corresponding interests and value preferences of the established western powers, could be crucial to forging the long term future of global economic governance.

This project aims to investigate the broad parameters of each IBSA country’s approach to the values that could underpin global economic governance, in relation to the hard calculus of economic interest. The institutional reference point is the G20 leaders’ forum. The project takes as its starting point a paper prepared by Peter Draper on this broad subject, entitled ‘Towards a Framework of Principles for the G20: Assessing the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Guidelines’. Three new papers will be presented on India, Brazil, and South Africa, respectively. An academic synthesis paper based on these three inputs and discussions at this workshop will also be prepared for submission to the South African Journal of International Affairs; this will be written by Peter Draper and project advisor Professor Andreas Freytag of the Friederich Schiller University in Jena, Germany.

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