1) What is the initiative?
Singapore and 27 other non-G20 nations have formed informal coalition known as the Global Governance Group or “3G”. Established at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, the group was formed as a means for small and medium UN member states to discuss matters regarding global governance and channel their views into the G20 process.
The member states include:
• Six from Southeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific (Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, New Zealand and Vietnam)
• Three from the Middle East (Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates),
• Three from Africa (Rwanda, Senegal and Botswana)
• Eight from Europe (Sweden, Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Monaco and San Marino)
• Two from South America (Uruguay and Chile)
• Six from Latin America and the Caribbean (Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama, Jamaica, Barbados and Bahamas).
The 3G was conceptualized in April 2009, at the G-20 London summit, where some countries which were not essentially part of the G-20, were invited as part of a ‘grey list’. Consequently, Singapore’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Mr. Vanu Gopala Menon arranged meetings in order to further develop the idea. The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, attended two of these meetings. Mr. Menon stressed that “the 3G’s objective is to strengthen the UN, not undermine it” and that the “G-20 should be a bit more inclusive and transparent”.
2) What is its significance?
In the midst of the global financial crisis, the Group of 20 (G-20) has emerged as a key group, charged with the task of setting the global agenda. However, under this framework there is rising fear amongst smaller countries that although they face the same financial and climate change challenges, their concerns will not be sufficiently reflected by the larger countries. As a result, the 3G was formed. “The G-20 constitutes 80 per cent of world gross domestic product”, said Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo as he described the catalyst for forming the 3G during a meeting in Davos that he hosted. “Power itself confers legitimacy. At the same time it cannot be that the interests of small countries can be given short shrift. In the nature of international politics, what isn't organised and what isn't heard tend to matter less”, said Mr. Yeo.
Currently, the 3G is attempting to create a series of principles and objectives to be circulated as a UN document. It is aimed to be completed prior to the G-20 meeting in June in Canada, to be able to express the concerns of the smaller countries on the world stage.
3) Why does the SIIA support the 3G initiative?
The G-20 is now a permanent institution, with the G-7 in 2009 having surrendered to it dominance over economic policy. Cooperation among the biggest powers is indeed important. But there is no guarantee that large countries will take into account sufficiently the concerns of smaller countries. There is a danger that large, powerful states might come to an agreement among themselves on issues and then dictate to others. Such issues may include climate change, free trade and banking reform.
Rather than aspire to get into the G-20, medium- and smaller-size countries open to the global economy may be better served by organising among themselves. Working together, they might make their views better known to the G-20 and collectively have a weight that none of them would have separately. The formation of the 3G is a step towards this goal.