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G20 2016 CONFRONTING THE CRISIS OF GLOBAL GOVERNANCE

By DR. ABI WILLIAMS
President of The Hague Institute for Global Justice

We are confronted today by multiple crises that are complex in nature and global in scope. Seemingly intractable state fragility and violent extremism threaten the stability of entire regions and worldwide displacement is at the highest level ever recorded. The impact of climate change is already apparent in rising sea levels and altered landscapes, resulting in the loss of habitats, lives and livelihoods. These and other global challenges demand comprehensive, global solutions that are designed and implemented by governance institutions and processes that are inclusive, agile and responsive.

G20 2016 CONFRONTING THE CRISISDelivering effective solutions to the transnational challenges of the 21st Century requires reforming important elements of the system of global governance established in the mid- 20th Century, and engaging new stakeholders through dynamic, flexible arrangements. It was this imperative that led The Hague Institute for Global Justice and the Stimson Center to convene the Commission on Global Security, Justice & Governance, which was co-chaired by former U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright and former Foreign Minister of Nigeria, Ibrahim Gambari. The analysis and recommendations contained in its final report, “Confronting the Crisis of Global Governance,” aim to develop new frameworks for collective action in response to a range of threats to global security and justice. Several
recommendations concern the G20 and its role in global governance. The G20 is uniquely able to play a pivotal role in enhancing the effectiveness and legitimacy of contemporary global governance – its membership transcends significant geopolitical divides, represents two thirds of the world’s population, and accounts for approximately 80% of Gross World Product. The efficiency of its decision-making processes is undoubtedly enhanced by the relatively small number of actors involved at the leadership level. To leverage its strengths in support of the global public good, however, the G20 must give serious thought to how it can be more inclusive and consultative, and how its efforts can
have a truly global impact.

The theme of the China 2016 Summit – “Towards an Innovative, Invigorated, Interconnected and Inclusive World
Economy” – recognizes the need to engage all relevant stakeholders and ensure that the benefits of development
and economic growth are shared equitably. The recommendation of the Commission on Global Security, Justice & Governance concerning the transformation of the G20 into the G20+ (which would entail new partnerships and the support of a modest Secretariat) is worth considering in this regard. This reform measure seeks to enhance the inclusiveness and consultative capacities of the G20 by facilitating greater engagement with regional actors (e.g. AU, ASEAN, SCO, OAS), members of the G172, and non-state actors from civil society and the private sector. The goal is to ensure that the policies and actions of the G20 advance justice and security worldwide.

With regard to securing equitable outcomes through development and growth, it is heartening that the 2016 Summit Agenda prioritizes implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The call for G20 members to develop National Action Plans, which will form the basis of a G20 Collective Action Plan for implementing this  agenda, is noteworthy. In light of the devastating impact of violent conflict on human security and socioeconomic development across the world, the G20’s national and collective action plans should pay particular attention to facilitating development in fragile and conflict-affected environments. This can be achieved through conflict-sensitive investment and development aid that does not reinforce inequality; security sector reform that emphasizes the creation of public goods like education and social services; a binding framework for tackling corruption through bottom-up accountability; and funding to support grassroots conflict prevention initiatives. Even with extensive consultations with non-G20 members, regional and non-state actors, the G20 lacks the representativeness – and corollary legitimacy – of the United Nations. To ensure that its efforts have global acceptance and impact, therefore, it is important that the G20 strengthens its links with the UN, especially on matters which affect non-G20 actors.

The global crises that confront us today – from state fragility and violent extremism to climate change and  displacement – call for bold and strategic political leadership from the G20. It must make every effort to harness the considerable capacities of its members in service of global interests.

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