Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 03/2009

A Fresh Look at Global Governance: Exploring Objective Criteria for Representation

Enrique Rueda-Sabater, Vijaya Ramachandran, Robin Kraft

February 2009

Center for Global Development


The geopolitical world of the 21st century is very different than that of the post– World War II era. In this new world order, what constitutes a system of global governance? We argue that it has to balance representation, which is made credible by the inclusion of key parts of the global community, and effectiveness, which means involving as small a number of actors as possible while having access to the resources—and clout—to turn decisions/intentions into action/results. In this paper, we propose simple, fundamental criteria—based on global shares of GDP and population—around which global governance might be organized. We analyze the role that these criteria would assign to different countries and compare them with some of the key components of the system of governance currently in place—the Bretton Woods institutions and the United Nations. We also examine the implications of our analysis for membership in the G-20 and the OECD. We find major disparities, which suggest the need for fundamental changes in sharp contrast to the incremental changes that are currently being considered. Overall, our analysis points to the need for a more comprehensive approach, and for much more than incremental solutions.