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The G8 in a changing global economic order

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The G8 has rather crept up on our consciousness as an agency of global governance. It was brought into being in 1975 in order to give western leadership to the global political economy at a time of uncertainty and drew Russia into its activities in order to demonstrate and symbolize the triumph of western capitalist liberal democracy over its rival Soviet system. In that sense the G8 constitutes the club of the winners of late twentieth century history. But it has long been beset by problems of legitimacy and efficiency. Some of the leaders of the current G8 states also recognize that global politics has moved on a long way since the settlements of 1945 and 1989 and increasingly acknowledge the need to address that changing reality. They recognize that some other powerful countries have grown up and that it is now in the interests of the dominant countries to accommodate a limited number of these new powers within the structure and norms of the contemporary governance of globalization. In this spirit the G8 has lately sought to incorporate Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa into its affairs, dealing with them as ‘outreach’ partners within a process that has been dubbed the ‘G8 + 5’. For their part, these early twenty-iirst-century winners will have to show that they are willing to work within the framework of western leadership. That is what the ‘G8 + 5’ process is testing out. Only when, and if, these tests are passed will the formation of a G13 become a politically realistic possibility.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Professor of Politics at the University of Sheffield, and Adjunct Professor of International Relations at the Australian National University.

Publication date: May 1, 2008

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