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The Spanish press reports that Spain's prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, has been officially invited to the G-20 summit in London in April as well as the preparatory meeting in Berlin. Spain was invited by UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (El Mundo (Spain)/Factiva). The Spanish government has campaigned vigorously to be included in the G-20, despite the fact the European Union is already represented. This past fall, cartoons in the Spanish newspapers and serious reports in Spain's print and television media repeatedly argued that the country is a significant player in geopolitics and should be in the club.
But ad hoc invitations to join the G-20 are not enough to address the larger problem of global governance. As the world grapples with the financial crisis, transnational threats of terrorism and climate change, and the underprovision of global public goods, it is ever more painfully apparent that the institutions set up in the aftermath of World War II are wholly inadequate. As Fareed Zakaria puts it, we need to deal with "the rise of the rest." Some of the most populous countries of the world -- Nigeria, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan -- are rarely at the table, either in consultative fora or in institutions with operational responsibilities. Even rising economic powers such as China are grossly underrepresented -- in the IMF and World Bank, for example, China has 25 votes per billion dollars of GDP while tiny Belgium has 103 votes per billion dollars of GDP.
In a new CGD working paper, A Fresh Look at Global Governance: Exploring Objective Criteria for Representation Enrique Rueda-Sabater, Robin Kraft and I suggest an alternative approach that would reflect the new world order of the 21st century in order to properly deploy the financial and human capital assets of the Bretton Woods and other global institutions. We present a simple proposal -- countries which have either 2 percent of the world's GDP or 2 percent of the world's population should be at the table, along with a region-based system of representation for the rest of the countries in the world. And yes, Spain makes the cut!
When the world’s finance ministers and central bank governors assemble in Washington later this month. they would do well to focus on another looming debt crisis that could hit some of the poorest countries in the world, many of whom are also struggling with problems of conflict and fragility and none of which has the institutional capacity to cope with a major debt crisis without lasting damage to their already-challenged development prospects.