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The G20 and Global Governance

The initial membership of the G20 was an arbitrary selection drawn at the initiative of the United States, Germany, and Canada in 1999, with subsequent additions to the membership made on an ad hoc basis. While the G20 is more representative in a numerical sense, this comes at a cost of commonality of interest and values. The G20 has no natural focus, geographic or otherwise, to bind its members together in the way of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC), and does not have a set of common values, such as NATO does.

Though the G20 is seen as a vehicle for addressing the world’s problems, the leaders’ meetings bring only a modest amount of new institutional capacity, legitimacy, and political capital to the task.

International economic and political cooperation is a symptom, not a cause, of domestic policies and institutions. Domestic policies and institutional settings contribute to advancing the G20’s agenda, but these settings do not appear to depend on the G20 summit process in a measurable way.

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