8 + 20 = ?
On October 27th and 28th, the international conference ‘Partnership for Progress. From the 2010 Muskoka-Toronto Summits to the Seoul Summit’ took place at the HSE.
The event was organized by the HSE International Organizations Research Institute (IORI) with the support of Oxfam International and the UK Department for International Development.
The forum programme was based around analysis of the results of the recent G8 summit in Muskoka and G20 summit in Toronto.
Last July, the G8 summit took place in Muskoka, Canada, and immediately after, the G20 summit was held in Toronto. It was for the first time that two forums of such high level were held almost simultaneously, thanks to the effective coordination work of G20 co-chairs, the Republic of Korea and Canada. In November the next G20 summit will take place in Seoul.
The main tasks of the HSE conference were an analysis and evaluation of the key documents and decisions made by the world leaders this summer, the exchange of expert opinions on the effectiveness of the G8 and G20 institutions, discussion about the potential for cooperation between the most developed economies of the world, other countries, and global institutions and about the tasks and programme of the future summit in South Korea.
There was a very full schedule for the two days, and the list of participants was rather imposing. After a short welcome speech by HSE Vice Rector Lev Yakobson, Arkady Dvorkovich, Aide to the President of the Russian Federation and Russian Sherpa in the Group of Eight leading industrial nations, addressed the conference participants. These included Andrey Bokarev, Director of the Russian Ministry of Finance Department for International Financial Relations, Vadim Lukov, Ambassador-at-Large, Deputy Representative of the President of Russia in the G8, Foreign Affairs Ministry Coordinator for G20 and BRIC Affairs, John Kirton, Director of the G8 Research Group at the University of Toronto, Lee Youn-ho, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the Russian Federation, Jean de Gliniasti, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of France to the Russian Federation, Bertrand Bainvel, UNICEF Representative in the Russian Federation, as well as representatives of some G8 and G20 members’ embassies, experts from the University of Toronto Munk School of Global Affairs, the Belgian Royal Institute for International Relations, the University of Gent, officials from Russian ministries and governmental bodies and from large international organizations and institutions.
Analyzing the character of various summits, Arkady Dvorkovich emphasized, ‘Despite the fact that the leaders of the most developed countries represent a large part of the world economy and have significant political influence, they cannot act or decide on behalf of other countries not represented in the G20’. There are about 200 independent states in the world, that’s why the only legitimate organization with the right to make global decisions is still the UN. It is essential to understand that the leaders of both G8 and G20 countries take political responsibility on behalf of their people on the world stage and cannot be responsible for other countries’ policies, and their reputations are the guarantees for the fulfillment of their liabilities. Nevertheless, regular summits of both groups certainly help the development of a constructive dialogue on the most pressing problems currently facing the heads of the leading countries and the largest international organizations, including those defending the interests of the poorest countries. Another dialogue taking place at such summits is with the world business community, which is also very important for overcoming the consequences of the world financial crisis’.
It is worth remembering that the first summit of the leaders of the G20 took place in November 2008 in Washington, DC, as a response to the financial crisis that started in the US. After that, meetings took place in April 2009 in London and in September 2009 in Pittsburgh, when the G20 leaders agreed to turn the summit into an ongoing institution aimed at providing solutions and responses to some of the most urgent problems in the modern world.
Answering the question of the situation in Russian post-crisis economy, Arkady Dvorkovich said, ‘The administration of the Russian Federation considers it necessary to combine openness and transparency of international trade investments with the movement of the national economic policy towards the creation of a reliable social welfare system, the creation of new workplaces in those economic sectors which can provide decent salaries for people. The key task of the country’s administration is not redistribution of assets, not transferring resources from one part of society to another, but creation of new, more advantageous conditions for living in the country thanks to the effective use of new technologies and innovations. In the world context, in building international relations, we hold exactly the same position’.
Vadim Lukov in his report noted that the G20 had helped prevent the worsening of the world economic crisis and its destructive consequences. ‘Thanks to the well coordinated joint effort of the G20 member countries,’ he said, ‘2.7% of the world GDP was assigned for serious anti-crisis programmes in different countries. When you consider this number, it is truly astonishing. In addition to this, the G20 initiated an unprecedented dialogue between governments on a new economic philosophy. This dialogue was not easy and took place between countries with diametrically opposite views on the role of international financial institutions’ reforming, such as between Saudi Arabia and the U.S., China and Great Britain and other G20 member countries. I believe that from a historical perspective, this dialogue on a new world economic model and the restructuring of national economies of some of the leading countries can be considered the most important achievement of the G20’.
According to many leading economists and politicians, the world economy and the G20 are facing new, post-crisis challenges. Actually, this stage can be called ‘post-crisis’ only nominally, since the basic reasons of the crisis have not yet been eliminated, and new problems are exacerbating the current situation in the world. For example, there is a real threat of a market crash in some EU countries. Vadim Lukov reminded the conference participants that ‘the revolution of high expectations in society are leading to counterrevolutions of disappointment’ and explained, ‘the crisis in Greece showed the drama and the systematic depth of the EU’s problems. The world community cannot allow a new wave of the crisis to sweep across the world, for many reasons. I shall name only two of them: financial resources for fighting the effects of the crisis have been severely depleted, and the political patience of voters and taxpayers has reached its limit. Things happening today on the streets of Paris, Brussels, Athens and other European countries demonstrate that nobody will be able master the second wave of the crisis. That’s why the decisions taken at the Toronto summit on world consolidation cannot be overemphasized’.
The speech by John Kirton, a prominent researcher and expert in global management and international relations, contained a comparison of summits by various parameters: by the means of their foundation, membership of countries, missions, institutionalization, summit programmes, mechanisms of reporting and effectiveness of functioning. ‘The creation of both institutions’, he said, ‘was a result of a shocking situation in world architecture, the negative consequences of which none of them has yet managed to overcome. While the G20 was created with the purpose of implementing general global administration, the G8’s purpose was to develop solutions for economic regulation and economic stability in the world. The Seoul summit will cover several difficult problems. Firstly, the achievement of sustainable and balanced economic growth in China may demand the devaluation of yuan. Secondly, it is necessary to solve some complex problems in order to complete the WMF voting reform by 2011. Thirdly, the problems of global climate change, international cyber-security, e-economy, education, environmental concerns, help for developing countries and other similar issues, need special attention’.
Professor Kirton’s belief that in the long term, theG20 and G8 can become a united institution for the creation and support of global social wealth, did not meet any objections from the conference participants.
The work of the conference was organized into various sections. Participants discussed the results of the Muskoka and Toronto 2010 summits, the role of the Republic of Korea in international diplomacy and its chairing of the forthcoming Seoul summit, the evaluation of the effectiveness of the G8 and G20in global administration, the future of these summits and division of labour between them, mechanisms of reporting of both institutions as well as aspects and principles for monitoring of their effectiveness.
Valentina Gruzintseva, HSE News Service