Among the most glaring failures of the COVID-19 era has been the near total absence of effective international coordination to fight the novel coronavirus. The UN Security Council has been unable to muster anything beyond symbolic action, the World Health Organization has lost the support of the United States, and the G-20 has limited its economic response to temporarily suspending poor countries’ debt repayment obligations. But even before the coronavirus pandemic, the multilateral system that the United States helped build after World War II was struggling to solve the world’s most pressing problems. COVID-19 revealed that the emperor has no clothes—but in truth the emperor has been scantily clad for some time.
The world desperately needs a new institution that is both global in reach and unified in vision.
As the world’s economic center of gravity has shifted toward the Indo-Pacific, it has become impossible for institutions with global ambitions to credibly claim to lead without meaningful representation from that region. But the G-7, which emerged in the aftermath of the 1973 oil shock, still has just one member—Japan—outside the Euro-Atlantic. And the G-20, which was formed after the 1997 Asian financial crisis and showed value during the 2008 global financial meltdown, has proved too disparate in political outlook and capability to reliably solve international problems. The UN Security Council, meanwhile, has been hobbled by the resurgence of aggressive authoritarianism in China and Russia.
Read the full article in Foreign Affairs.
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