Robert Zoellick on a New Multilateralism

Writing in the Boston Globe today (my emphasis):

Our New Multilateralism must build a sense of shared responsibility for the health of the global political economy and must involve those with a major stake in that economy. We must redefine economic multilateralism more broadly, beyond the traditional focus on finance and trade. Today, energy, climate change, and stabilizing fragile and post-conflict states are economic issues. They are already part of the international security and environmental dialogue. They must be the concern of economic multilateralism as well.

The New Multilateralism will rely on national leadership and cooperation. But the G-7 is not sufficient. We need a better group for a different time; a core group of finance ministers who will assume responsibility for anticipating issues, sharing information, mobilizing efforts to solve problems, and at least managing differences.

We should consider a new steering group including Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and the current G-7, that holds regular formal and informal dialogues. The group should not just replace the G-7 with a fixed-number G-14, and should evolve to fit changing circumstances. We need this new network so that global problems are not just mopped up after the fact, but anticipated. The steering group will still need to work through established international institutions, but the core group will increase the likelihood that countries draw together to address problems.

The emphasis on anticipating issues is part and parcel of what Jack Balkin calls The Information State. The notion of stabilization of weak/failed states of course is straight out of Thomas Barnett’s work.  Zoellick is one of the few bright lights in the Bush cosmos.

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