The most successful reform so far has been the dramatic shift in global economic power from the G8 group of industrialised democracies to the G20 and its amalgam of both wealthy and emerging powers. The G20 encompasses 80% of the world’s population and a similar proportion of global economic output, and in the eyes of the world that endows it with much great political legitimacy than the G8 which barely accounts for 12% of the world’s population. When thinking about global governance, the important measurement is the balance between the widest possible representation of global interests and the most effective way to implement policies. Too often, consensus means the lowest denominator and thus the least effective kind of action.
Rather than look to global institutions, an alternative is to employ regional institutions to act in the service of global governance. NATO and the European Union, perhaps the two most important multilateral institutions in the West, have proven value in preventing war and building prosperity. The test of their future worth will be how they adapt to the post-American world of the 21st century. Can NATO forge a new strategic concept that broadens the definition of security to include nation-building through effective police training and economic development? And can the European Union extend its mandate to help other regions of the world achieve peace and prosperity? Both institutions must adapt to the changing security demands of our time, and find new ways to work together on solution that have proved so elusive in the past.