Capping a nearly two-year consultation involving
dozens of US and international leaders, a new report by three US think tanks
is calling on President-elect Barack Obama and other leaders to implement sweeping
reforms in global governance to more effectively tackle shared regional and
global threats over the next half century.
"Global governance is the number one challenge for the world and the number
one challenge for the next president," said Strobe Talbott, president of
the Washington-based Brookings Institution, one of the think tanks that sponsored
"A Plan for Action: A New Era of International Cooperation for a Changed
World", the Managing Global Insecurity (MGI) Project says that such reforms
should begin with Washington's own re-engagement with the international community
by closing the Guantanamo Detention facility and affirm its commitment to uphold
the Geneva Conventions and other laws of war in order to "reestablish itself
as a good-faith partner".
But the US and other western powers should also be prepared to give up their
monopoly on the leadership of key global financial institutions, notably the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, and initiate reforms to
the U.N. Security Council, including its expansion, that would both make it
more representative and reduce the ability of its permanent members to block
action in crisis situations, according to the plan.
It also calls for the creation of a new Group of 16 that would replace the
Group of Eight most industrialized countries as the main international forum
to forge preliminary agreements on major global challenges, including dealing
with the ongoing financial crisis, climate change, nuclear proliferation, and
In addition to the G8 members, which include the major western powers, the
European Union (EU), and Russia, the G-16 would include Brazil, China, India,
South Africa, Mexico or what the authors call the "Outreach 5"
and Indonesia, Turkey, Egypt, or Nigeria, according to the plan, which was
drafted before last week's summit here of the Group of 20 nations.
The plan also calls for urgent action by both the G16 and Obama to stabilize
the Middle East, which it called the world's "most unstable region...and
a vortex of transnational threats," through greater reliance on diplomacy,
including immediate efforts to support an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement.
The plan, whose release was clearly designed for maximum impact on the incoming
administration, offers a relatively detailed list of recommendations for US
and international policymakers for action tied to already-scheduled international
conferences on climate change, nonproliferation, global finance and security
through Obama's first term.
While the MGI project has been directed by three US-based think tanks
Brookings, New York University's Center on International Cooperation, and Stanford
University's Center for International Security and Cooperation it also
featured strong foreign participation in both its financing and international
advisory board, which included, among others, former Brazilian President Fernando
Henrique Cardoso, former Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, Former Organization
of African Unity Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim, and the EU's current foreign-policy
chief, Javier Solana, who also spoke at the plan's release here Thursday. The
project also held consultations in Britain, Singapore, Berlin, Delhi, Beijing,
Tokyo, Doha, and Mexico City.
Its US advisory group members included high-level veterans of both Democratic
and Republican administrations, including former national security advisers
Samuel Berger (Bill Clinton) and Brent Scowcroft (Gerald Ford and George H.W.
Bush); former secretaries of state Lawrence Eagleburger and Madeleine Albright,
who, along with Talbott, who served as deputy secretary of state under Clinton,
were also on hand at the Plan's release. John Podesta, who served as Bill Clinton's
chief of staff and is currently in charge of Obama's transition team, also served
on the US advisory group.
The plan identifies four tracks that should be pursued more or less simultaneously
in order to build an "international security system for the 21st century"
based on the "principle of responsible sovereignty", or the notion
that sovereignty "entails obligations and duties toward other states as
well as one's own citizens."
The first track, "restoring credible American leadership", is required
because "no other state has the diplomatic, economic and military capacity
necessary to rejuvenate international cooperation."
To demonstrate "its commitment to a rule-based international system that
rejects unilateralism and looks beyond military might," the new US administration
should, in addition to closing Guantanamo and reaffirming its adherence to international
human rights treaties, deliver "consistent and strong messages on international
cooperation domestically and internationally" in the run-up to major global
meetings, begin a major expansion of its foreign service, and elevate development
priorities in its foreign aid program, according to the plan.
The second track focuses on "revitalizing international institutions,"
first, by creating the G16 and the US taking the lead in restraining the use
of the veto in the UN Security Council both steps that could set the
stage for expanding the membership of the UN Security Council later. At the
same time, the governing boards of the IMF, the World Bank, and other international
economic agencies would be restructured to reduce western dominance and make
them more representative.
Discussion of the latter step is already underway in the context of the ongoing
financial crisis and the G20 meeting here last week. Unlike the G20, the proposed
G16 does not include Argentina, Australia, Saudi Arabia and South Korea. The
plan's authors indicated they had no particular problem with the G20 as a group
that could replace the G8.
The third track calls for action on specific global challenges faced by the
international community, including the negotiation of an agreement under the
UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to set targets for reducing
greenhouse emissions for 2020 and 2050 while securing investments in nonpolluting
technologies, adaptation, and rainforests; reviving the nonproliferation regime
by reducing existing nuclear arsenals, gaining ratification by all states of
the Additional Protocol of the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), and creating an
international fuel bank; and conducting G16 "pre-negotiations" to
reduce protectionist pressures and conclude the World Trade Organization's Doha
Round to benefit poor countries.
In addition, global leaders should take major initiatives to build local public
health infrastructure in poor countries, build a reserve 50,000-strong international
peacekeeping force and a two-billion-dollar peace-building fund; and establish
a UN High Commissioner for Counter Terrorism Capacity Building.
Track Four focuses on resolving conflicts in the Greater Middle East by intensifying
existing diplomatic efforts with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,
Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan, with the eventual goal of building a new security
architecture for the region.
(Inter Press Service)