Thanks to changes in IMF voting, countries such as China, Mexico and Turkey now have a greater say in global economic governance. While applauding this change, Dr. Yılmaz Argüden examines what other shifts — on both the national and international levels — are needed to make global governance more effective and inclusive.The G20 meetings in Pittsburgh and the World Bank-IMF meetings in Istanbul have clearly shown that the world is changing.
The ongoing global financial and economic crises have made it clear that many of the issues impacting quality of life throughout the world are global in nature.
However, the way that humanity has organized itself, particularly on the public administration front, is national in nature.
The fact that jurisdictions for key governance issues — such as elections, education systems, taxation and military organizations — are based on national boundaries makes it difficult to organize on a global scale.
Furthermore, as most democratic governments are elected for four- to five-year terms, the average perspective of an elected national leader is about 2.5 years!
It would be naïve to suggest dismantling national structures and moving towards a global government. Yet, longer perspective and more collaboration are definitely needed to address global issues. Forward-looking politicians need the support of the public in such a collaborative approach.
To deal with global issues in an effective manner, we first need to understand the interdependencies between countries. Curricula of many national education systems focus on nation building, with insufficient emphasis on global citizenship.
Therefore, a Global Education Initiative is required to ensure that people fully understand their mutual dependence, rather than seeing neighbors and other foreigners as scapegoats for local problems. Living together requires sharing power — whether in the family, in the village, in the city, in a nation or in the world.
After this is established, we need to create global institutions with adequate resources and decision-making powers that are shared and exercised equitably.
For example, it is difficult to justify the lack of veto power for India at the United Nations when France has one, regardless of which criteria is utilized: number of citizens, economic might or being a nuclear power. The current system is a relic of history that needs to be adapted to 21st century realities.
Yet, rather than lament past injustices, we ought to focus on the one positive aspect of the current situation, bleak though it may be: The fact of the matter is that crises sharpen minds.
National leaders just about everywhere — from India and China to Brazil and the United States — are coming to grips with the fact that global problems require global solutions. And global solutions can only be implemented with global cooperation.
In this regard, Turkey is becoming a role model for global collaboration. Just this year, Turkey has started to serve at the UN Security Council and has become a key intermediary in resolving numerous international conflicts in the Caucasus, Middle East, Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
Along with Spain, Turkey has also initiated The Alliance of Civilizations Project under the aegis of the United Nations. Its goal is to remedy the perceived “clash of civilizations” in international affairs.
Also, being a key G20 member and one of the very few OECD countries that did not have to throw public funds to its banking industry during this crisis, Turkey’s experience during the financial crisis has been held up as a shining example — even by the United States.
Turkey’s success is due to the fact that difficulty bears capability. After Turkey’s homemade financial crisis of 2001 (which stemmed from a lax regulatory environment), the government instituted new independent regulatory agencies and stress-testing capabilities. These are now being studied by the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
As Turkey’s example shows, we all have much to gain from collaboration.
Global solutions also require consensual delegation of sovereignty, in certain areas, to global institutions with adequate resources. Raising adequate resources for global institutions, in turn, needs appropriate power-sharing arrangements.
The Pittsburgh G20 meeting and the 2009 World Bank-IMF meetings in Istanbul will be remembered as the historical turning point. At last, there is a serious effort to strengthen global institutions in meaningful ways.
Many ideas that were previously deemed marginal are now getting traction.
The G7, at long last, is being replaced by the G20 as the primary platform of global decision-making. NGOs are also becoming a sounding board for these global institutions.
Another such example is the change in the voting rights at the IMF in favor of new emerging economies. For instance, China, South Korea, Mexico and Turkey have been beneficiaries of the changes in IMF voting rights.
Still, some are questioning if the adjustments are significant enough to create real change. We still have to take major steps to balance gross inequalities and bring more diversity and balance to the head table.
Longer perspective and more collaboration are definitely needed to address global issues.
Unless the governance of global institutions such as the UN, World Bank, IMF and NATO becomes more inclusive and balanced, it will be extremely difficult to increase their legitimacy and resources to match the problems they must now address.
The essential principle driving modern human rights and democracy is this: People should have a say in shaping their own future and be able to contribute in the global decision-making processes that influence their lives.
Global institutions will gain real legitimacy only if this understanding is applied to global governance mechanisms.