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What Role for the G20?

Now that the United States and its allies are locked in a zero-sum power struggle with China, Russia, and others, achieving an international consensus on most issues has become increasingly difficult. The question now is whether the world's premier multilateral organization can still find common ground.

PS Quarterly regularly features predictions by leading thinkers and uniquely positioned commentators on a topic of global concern. At a time when great-power rivalries are intensifying and frustrating international efforts to address shared problems such as climate change, pandemics, forced migration, and debt distress, many are wondering if consistent, effective multilateralism is still possible. With this growing concern in mind, we asked contributors to respond to the following prompt:

A decade and a half after emerging as the premier forum for coordinated policy responses to global problems, the G20 is no longer fit for purpose. Agree or disagree?

Mohan Kumar

I disagree. The G20 is the only diplomatic game in town. One obvious reason for this is that the United Nations Security Council has completely failed to get its act together on a broad range of issues (and not just the war in Ukraine). Other UN agencies such as the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the International Court of Justice, and the Human Rights Council tend to fare only slightly better.