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VIEW: ‘The G20 lacks legitimacy’, says Norway’s foreign minister

Jonas Gahr Støre, the Foreign Minister of Norway, writes in an op-ed in today’s Ottawa Citizen that, “The G20 is sorely lacking in legitimacy and must change.”

Støre, a Labour Party member of the Norwegian parliament, writes, “the self-appointment of the Group of 20 represents, from the point of view of international law and multilateral principles, a major step backwards in the way international co-operation has occurred since the Second World War.”

“A number of countries that have been central to international co-operation in the past, including Norway and the Nordic countries, are excluded from direct membership. Low-income countries and the continent of Africa are almost entirely without the needed representation.”

“Representation at the G20 will become all the more important as its agenda moves beyond economic concerns to include issues like public health, development, and climate change — issues with real economic and political consequences for all nations, including those who currently have no voice at the G20 table.”

“If the G20 co-operation should effectively result in decisions being imposed on the great majority of other countries, it will quickly find itself stymied.”

How can the G20 “address the question of its own legitimacy” and be more representative?

1. “As a first and immediate step, G20 members and non-members should consult on a framework for interaction.”

2. “More fundamentally, a system of geographical (or regional) constituencies — along the lines we already have at the IMF and the World Bank — freely constituted and with the present G20 members as a core, would go a long way in remedying the weaknesses of the present system.”

The Council of Canadians has also raised questions about the exclusivity of the G20 and supports (despite its various failings and challenges), the broader-based body of the United Nations, also referred to as the G-192.

Støre’s full op-ed is at http://www.ottawacitizen.com/business/lacks+legitimacy/2908237/story.html.

More on our G20 intervention at http://canadians.org/g20.