Academic journal article Global Governance

Re-Balancing the G-20 from Efficiency to Legitimacy: The 3G Coalition and the Practice of Global Governance

Academic journal article Global Governance

Re-Balancing the G-20 from Efficiency to Legitimacy: The 3G Coalition and the Practice of Global Governance

Article excerpt

This article contributes to the literature on global governance, legitimacy, and small states through a detailed analysis of the Global Governance Group. It examines in particular the operational impact and wider conceptual implications of the 3G's collective diplomatic efforts on the Group of 20. By engaging in a reconfigured form of informal multilateralism, the article finds that the 3G has been and is capable of shaping the global agenda with respect to the G-20 in a way that is both more inclusive and connected with existing institutions, especially the United Nations. Through this initiative, this group has effectively recalibrated the existing narrative about small states, the G-20, and global governance--shifting it from the paradigm of efficiency to one of legitimacy. Keywords: 3G, G-20, global governance, informal groups, small states.

Informal Global Governance

As new centers of power mobilize and old institutions fall behind the curve of change, the trend in world politics has been for countries to substitute, bypass, or marginalize established institutions of global governance in favor of engagement with new forms of cooperative institutional arrangements--in short, toward informality in global governance. International relations theory has traditionally been uneasy with forms of informal global governance. (1) Realists have dismissed them as irrelevant given that powerful members can "go it alone," and neoliberal institutionalists are uncertain of what to make of these forums where formal institutional structures or binding agreements are not apparent. (2) Students of rational design see the advance of centralized rather than disaggregated models of international organizations. (3) Yet this trend toward informality is not only important for extending the debate about the manner by which cooperation can be secured in the global political economy "after hegemony," (4) but the manner by which small states attempt to influence bigger ones. Marked by less hierarchy and greater flexibility, informal global governance of small states is an admittedly fuzzy concept, and explaining its theoretical relevance has therefore been a challenge for dominant international relations paradigms. Moreover, the relationship between conceptualization and issue-specific international practice beyond the domain of the UN Security Council in select crisis situations has not been extensively explored. Notwithstanding Jochen Prantl's call in his 2005 International Organization article for extended studies of the "dynamics between internal arrangements and formal international organizations," there has been scant research that explores the use by smaller states of informal groups to increase their leverage in the global political economy and so increase our "understanding of power, legitimacy and change." (5)

Thus, in functional terms, there is some considerable space for specialized and more nuanced studies. Although greater attention is devoted to "multilateralism light," the focus has been to some considerable extent on the mechanisms used by bigger and stronger countries, not as tools by coalitions of the weak. (6) A major strand of literature that traces forms of informal governance does so in a mode of analysis that privileges clubs of power where informality allows for easier backroom negotiations over contested issue areas as well as the implementation of tough regulations that are monitored in the privacy of informal groups, whether on a permanent or temporary ad hoc basis. (7) Well-known groupings such as the Group of 8 (G8), the World Trade Organization Green Rooms, and the Middle East Quartet on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are reflections of these informal groups, which indeed can be effective at achieving their narrow objective of furthering global cooperation.

Yet although we have become accustomed to the idea that these contracting parties should have the requisite resources to back up their influence at the table, this approach should not limit our inclination or ability to perceive of alternative arrangements. …

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