The G20 and its regional critics: the search for inclusion

This article presents an analysis of the G20 which, while recognising the innovative capacity of this leaders’ forum, also addresses one of its major sources of contestation, the lack of equitable regional balance. Whereas the EU has an overrepresentation within the G20 membership, other regional constituencies including the Caribbean, the Nordics, Southeast Asia and Africa have been underrepresented or excluded completely. This has consequences in terms of heightening the legitimacy gap already in place due to the summit’s image as a self-selected concert of big powers. Yet the excluded regions have advocated inclusion, not rejection, of the G20. The main focus of the article is therefore on the practical means by which forms of inclusion should and can be enhanced. To its credit, South Korea as host of the November 2010 G20 has moved to address some of the problems associated with these representational imbalances. But the search for inclusion needs to be stepped up to enhance the G20’s position as a model of legitimate global governance. Moreover, many of the mechanisms to promote inclusion are feasible, taking advantage of the flexibility in the design of the G20 project as it has evolved over the past two years.