Preliminary findings and proposals by Task Force 8 on Multilateralism and Global Governance

Reforming and relaunching existing multilateral institutions in a post-pandemic scenario

  • The lack of an unambiguous definition and specific assessment of the “costs” (not only economic) of global inaction in the face of common challenges may lead to sub-optimal policy decisions. We suggest leveraging the opportunities offered by a bottom-up, flexible and open approach to multilateralism, calling on G20 leaders to set up an open and inclusive platform to share information and evidence on the costs of non-coordination. In particular, efforts should be devoted to exploring avenues for the development of a comprehensive index on the costs of non-coordination. This approach could serve as a basis towards identifying open “fit for purpose” forms of international cooperation, anchored to specific and practical issues. While international relations remain complex and often determined by national circumstances, providing more tangible information about the costs of non-coordination can yield more informed, transparent, and accountable policy decisions.
  • The release of an annual report on “Global Risk”, a G20 product made with support from T20, could help address governance and public goods deficit and improve efficiency and coordination between G20 and other multilateral platforms, such as WHO, IMF and World Bank. The report could empower G20’s enforcement power by setting up a pre-cautious mechanism through organizing some specific taskforce or panel discussion of related international organization, such as WHO, WTO, or UNIDO. The G20 could assign the task of drafting the report to the T20, since the latter could call for the think-tankers from many research backgrounds all over the world to figure out global risks and seek for global solutions. The annual report on “Global Risk” could contribute to T20 reforming, because this joint work of annual product could give more consistency to T20’s work and enhance the communication among think tanks.

Towards a more inclusive and multi-stakeholder international cooperation

  • The G20, in order to ensure greater inclusiveness and legitimacy, could strengthen and systematise its relationship with African multilateral institutions is key and helps ensure that a complex and diverse continent is better represented in global decision-making bodies. The more systematic inclusion of African multilateral institutions should be followed by changes on the way the African Union itself guarantees that its participation in G20 discussions is more effective and meaningful.
  • The T20 could steer the creation of a Working Group on International Development Cooperation and Foreign Aid (WGIDCFA), wherein Think Tank representatives, invited agencies (UNOSSC, OECD/DAC, etc.) and scholars could debate on differences and commonalities in statistical definitions of cooperation and aid, norms and criteria, experiences in monitoring and evaluation, considering the different trajectories G20 countries may have in that regard. The WGIDCFA could invite G20 members to send their input, organise policy dialogues around possible frameworks of action in the implementation of SDG#17, build an online platform to gather and disseminate the results of this WG, and finally to assess double efforts and blanks.
  • The G20 should explore how best it can engage with the major internet and technology companies, ensuring that the interests of all its members, and not just those at the technological cutting edge, are represented. First, the G20 could establish a working group to explore the role of the major internet and technology companies in international relations and how the G20 can best ensure that this role be positive. Then, the G20 could establish a “G20 Tech Ambassador”, whose functions could include: networking with internet and technology companies; coordinating the position of the G20 on the political and technological implications of new technologies; engaging the major internet and technology companies in discussion about regulatory and political issues like privacy, data protection, cybersecurity and managing disinformation.
  • The introduction of a “G20+” could harness the group’s formidable economic and political clout, while addressing its current deficits as regards legitimacy, representativeness, and connections to the wider multilateral system. A first order of business for the G20+ is to increase collective funding for those on the front line of the global humanitarian response to the COVID-19 crisis. Over the medium-term (2-3 years), the G20+ should work with international partners to confront the financing for development gap in the least developed countries, for instance by employing capital injections from the World Bank’s International Development Association replenishment, the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights, and the U.N.’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, especially in countries most affected by the pandemic.

The future of multilateralism in trade, services and investment

  • National and subnational rules are fragmenting the global economy in ways that reduce transparency and increase inequity. Efforts to renationalize economic activity after the recent economic and financial crisis and during the ongoing pandemic make matters worse. To correct this tendency, we propose that the G-20 call for the elaboration of Global Legal Standards. Such standards could apply in areas like supply chain management, finance and taxation, or corporate governance, in order to protect labour and the environment while at the same time enhancing transparency and equity. This would be a key step in moving to a rules-based international system.
  • The G20 is in a unique position to implement policies that can make use of the benefits of cryptocurrencies, and distributed ledger technology (DLT) with its faster and more efficient transaction execution process. A coordinated G20/multilateral approach is key to gaining a consensus on how to designate and even implement cryptocurrencies. From here, multilateral institutions can draw on the trust benefits of DLT as well as the built-in increased efficiency functions of this type of financial transaction.

Social media and civil society engagement in multilateral endeavors

  • Effective interstate communication is key to multilateral governance, but some phenomena such as malicious diffusion of fake news and disinformation through social media and messaging apps represent a challenge as it may hamper cooperation, reduce mutual trust and foster new conflicts, as well as already existing ones. Concrete actions to tackle the spread of disinformation include: the creation of a G20 communication office responsible for developing a comprehensive communication strategy, including a dedicated website, the launch of a T20 Taskforce, and a permanent roundtable on disinformation.
  • Public perceptions that multilateralism and global governance are dominated by élites, and therefore reflective of élite priorities, is one factor driving populism and political resentment around much of the globe. To address this challenge, multilateral institutions need to make international cooperation more inclusive and people-focused, for instance by considering employing survey research and deliberative democracy. Multilateral institutions such as the UN and G20 could incorporate survey research and public deliberation into their annual cycles, providing ordinary citizens with a more robust voice in multilateral conversations about key international issues.

Transparency and international anti-corruption fight

  • For over two decades, the gender and corruption nexus has been largely addressed based on the gender-biased premise that women would be less tolerant towards and less prone to corruption. Consequently, significant resources were poured into “feminising” decision-making, the judiciary and law enforcement as a quick fix to corruption practices and in investigating the social and ethical grounds for such an articulation. Instead, the whole thematic framework should be refined to recast global anti-discrimination efforts from an evidence-based, transformative approach. Acknowledging the complexity of gender as a concept and bringing an intersectional focus is essential to tackle gendered forms and impacts of corruption through five actionable policy recommendations.
  • Ultimately Beneficial Owners (UBOs) is key to improve the transparency of international financial flows, but they are defined by complex legal rules that differ across countries -which make it difficult, costly and time consuming to identifying them. Gathering more data and refining already complex domestic legal arsenals is not the solution. A risk-based approach, which is made possible by recent theoretical advances in economics and corporate finance, could work instead. Just like a risk-based approach has facilitated the adoption of transparency standards for banks (Basel), this methodology could constitute the basis for the gradual adoption of an international standard.

Task Force on Multilateralism