Global governance, power transition, and the G20

By Mohsen Shariatinia and Ehsan Razani
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, November 17, 2015
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The past few years have witnessed a rise in strategic rivalry between the two sides; while Moscow and Western capitals have announced sanctions to each other, the deterioration of the Russian-Western relationship has reached its highest since the Cold War's demise; despite China's willingness to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), it has not yet been included in the agreement; the Sino-Japanese strategic competition has intensified; besides, influenced by the global transition of power, the traditional institutions of global governance have become increasingly weak; the UN Security Council does not play an effective role of an international crisis-management body; the Breton Woods institutions have not been able to adequately align themselves with the realities of the new world within which the emerging powers are playing significant roles; for these institutions, decision-making process has become increasingly difficult; along the line, Doha Round of Trade Talks would be a good example.

The Doha Round, which is known as the longest running trade round in the history of multilateral trade negotiations, has had no significant outcome but growing number of international trade agreements. The fact that the United States and some other countries have drawn attention to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) indicates that they are not really hopeful to the future of multilateral trade.

Another factor that influences interactions between the G20's member states is its structure. The G20 stands out as a forum and thus cannot be considered as an organization with permanent secretariat or management and administrative structure. The effectiveness of decisions and directions taken by the G20 summits are not mandatory and depends, to a large extent, on the will of the member states. It is clear that increasing strategic competition between the key members of the G20 would undermine the ability of this body to function efficiently.

The G20 has come to act as a significant forum to address financial and economic issues in a multifaceted world that power transition and ambiguity are amongst its key features. While such a world would face with the necessity of developing the G20 as a mechanism for crisis management, it would make the path to success more complex and fraught with problems for the G20.

More than anything else, the future of the G20 would depend upon the characteristics of the emerging global transition of power. To what extent the Western powers accept the increasing role of the new comers in the global leadership, would certainly affect the process of power transition, and the strength or weakness of the G20 as well.

With no doubt, China is the most important emerging power. The future of the global transition of power, global governance, and the G20 would, to a large extent, be dependent on the quality of interactions between the established powers and this emerging power. If these powers move towards the containment of the PRC or try to prevent this country from playing effective roles in the global governance institutions, the future of the global governance would face with greater ambiguity.

Mohsen Shariatinia is a research fellow of the Center for Strategic Research in Tehran, Iran.

Ehsan Razani is member of the School of Law and Politics, Islamic Azad University, Shahrood, Iran.

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of


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