In Need Of Reform, International Organizations Remain Relevant

Is The G20 Relevant To Today’s World?
While it is an acceptable practice to openly and vocally criticize international institutions, The Diplomat’s Mike Callaghan maintains the G20 remains an important actor in international affairs. Albeit one which needs some reform.

“We live in an increasingly interconnected world. We need a forum that brings together the leaders of the major advanced and emerging economies. But we need more than a talk shop. We need a forum where leaders can deal with some of the most pressing challenges confronting the global economy. This is the potential that the G20 offers,” asserts Callaghan.

Callaghan, however, believes the G20 needs to refocus its efforts in several ways. For instance, he suggests limiting the agenda, implementing timetables and deadlines, and ensuring that the messages formulated by the G20 be clear and concise.

An Important Year For Reforming Global Financial Institutions
Martin Edwards says the time to reform global financing institutions is now and that in the coming decades international organizations must reflect the changing face of global politics, including the rise of emerging markets.

“In the coming year, the US-European watertreading over reforming the  international financial institutions will face a serious test. A warning sign  came last March with the fourth annual BRICS Summit. The closing statement  expressed the members’ concerns over the slow pace of governance reforms of the [International Finance Institutions] IFIs. The only reason this wasn’t an issue at the IMF/World Bank meeting in  October was that the Chinese boycotted this meeting because of their dispute  with Japan. With Russia taking over the revolving chair of the G20 this coming  year, governance of the international economic organizations is certain to be a  top priority,” contends Edwards in The Project Syndicate.

Is Collective Action Overrated?
In his inaugural address, President Barack Obama laid out a broad agenda for his second term, including the need for “collective action” on major issues of the day. While critics reacted almost immediately to what they perceived as a sign Obama planned to lean further to the left, others examined whether collectivism was the best way to reach government’s goals.

Washington Post columnist Charles Lane cites arguments made by Mancur Olson in his 1965 book, The Logic of Collective Action, that collective action is the least effective means to achieve one’s goals.

“As Olson explained, the interests that unite large groups are necessarily of the lowest-common-denominator variety. Therefore the concrete benefits of collective action to any individual are usually small compared with the costs — in time, effort and money — of participation,” while smaller groups “are good at collective action.”

“It costs less to organize a few people around a narrow, but intensely felt, shared concern. For each member, the potential benefits of joint action are more likely to outweigh the costs, whether or not success comes at the larger society’s expense,” he adds.


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