Sunday, July 06, 2008
This week finds another in a long line of great magazine covers at The Economist, this one critical of the world's major international governing bodies:
As the G-8 meets this weekend, vowing to take bold action in countering soaring food and energy prices while uncertain what those actions might be, this week's cover story questions their relevance along with other groups.
CLUBS are all too often full of people prattling on about things they no longer know about. On July 7th the leaders of the group that allegedly runs the world—the G7 democracies plus Russia—gather in Japan to review the world economy. But what is the point of their discussing the oil price without Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest producer? Or waffling about the dollar without China, which holds so many American Treasury bills? Or slapping sanctions on Robert Mugabe, with no African present? Or talking about global warming, AIDS or inflation without anybody from the emerging world? Cigar smoke and ignorance are in the air.Interestingly, the only kind words offered up were directed at that Bank of International Settlements, an organization that just published a scathing review of contemporary monetary policy in the world's biggest countries.
The G8 is not the only global club that looks old and impotent (see article). The UN Security Council has told Iran to stop enriching uranium, without much effect. The nuclear non-proliferation regime is in tatters. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), the fireman in previous financial crises, has been a bystander during the credit crunch. The World Trade Organisation’s Doha round is stuck. Of course, some bodies, such as the venerable Bank for International Settlements (see article), still do a fine job. But as global problems proliferate and information whips round the world ever faster, the organisational response looks ever shabbier, slower and feebler. The world’s governing bodies need to change.
Faced with the need to reform international institutions, the rich world—and America in particular—has a choice. Cling to power, and China and India will form their own clubs, focused on their own interests and problems. Cede power and bind them in, and interests and problems are shared. Now that would be a decent way to run a world.
This week's cartoon: