The world’s ‘G’ order – G5, G8, G14, G20

By Jaideep Sarin, IANS,

L’Aquila (Italy) : It can be termed as the new ‘G’ order of the world where the presence of nations proclaims their international political and economic status.

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The latest to join the ‘G’ ranks is G14 – a term used for the first time at the G8-G5 summit being held in this quake-hit Italian town, about 100 km northeast of Rome.

G14 is the grouping comprising G8, G5 and Egypt. Egypt was specially called for the summit outreach meeting between G8 and G5.

World leaders, some of whom are getting bored with too many summits, are now saying that it is better to have a broader organization like G14 or G20 rather than the G8 which is not representative of the present world order.

“At present there are too many summits,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel was quoted by Italian newspaper La Repubblica as saying adding that she was already thinking of the G20 summit in Pittsburg in United States in September this year.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy was quoted by the same newspaper saying: “I hope that in 2011 – when we will have presidency of the G8 – we will be organizing a G14 summit. It does not make sense to organize summits without representatives from China or Africa.”

G7, the group of the world’s most wealthy and industrialized countries founded in 1975, is now better known as G8 after it included the Russian Federation a few years ago.

G8’s membership comprises the main industrialised countries. It is not an international organisation, nor does it have an administrative staff with a permanent secretariat. It is a process that culminates in an annual summit at which the heads of state and government of the member countries hold talks with a view to finding solutions to the main world issues.

Italy hosted the 2009 G8 summit as it holds the presidency of the grouping.

G5 is the grouping of emerging economies comprising Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa.

Over the years, the G7/G8 duty presidencies began inviting a number of emerging countries for specific sessions of talks on an ad hoc basis, as the emerging economies’ increasing weight on the world scene made it necessary to involve them in identifying solutions to major global challenges.

The L’Aquila summit and its joint declaration by G8 and G5 has shown that the G5 is taken quite seriously by the world’s most developed countries.

A number of demands of G5 – including restructuring of international financial and other institutions, including the United Nations, keeping the interests of developing countries in mind while initiating action to overcome the global financial crisis and concerns on food security and climate change – were included in the joint document this time.

Another grouping, G20, founded in 1999, was in the news for its London summit in April this year. This one includes the developed and developing countries and is considered a broader international platform.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has already expressed his reservations about these world groupings.

“The unworkability of the existing structures has led to greater reliance on plurilateral groupings. Some of these, such as G7, later expanded to G8, are to be seen as a group of countries with common interest, not necessarily representative of the global community,” Manmohan Singh said in a vision document that forms part of a compendium on contemporary global issues at the summit here.

“The original rationale of G7 was the belief that it would evolve more effective consultation among the more powerful countries on one side of the bi-polar world of the 1970s and 1980s. Its expansion to G8 reflects the disappearance of that particular faultline by the collapse of the Soviet Union. However, while the group includes many of the economically powerful nations, it is obviously not representative as it does not include any developing country.”

Though the prime minister has pointed out that these groupings do not have a special legitimacy under the UN system, he finds the G20 grouping more comprehensive of the present world order.

“Unlike the G8+5, this group has a composite identity since all member countries participate on equal terms, including in the preparatory process. However, the selection of countries remains arbitrary and can be questioned as to its representativeness,” he stated in the vision document on how the world needs to be governed in the 21st century.