The annual G20 summit is taking place in India this weekend. Any gathering of leaders of this caliber (and the 20 largest economies are the ones that really run the world) is a major event. All the more so because, in the context of the apparent weakening of traditional institutions in recent decades, the G20 has been seen as the prototype for a new structure of international governance. Without detracting from the importance of the forthcoming forum, it can be suggested that the group has already passed its peak and that the further evolution of the world system will contribute to the strengthening of other structures.
The G20 is the product of the economic setbacks of the advanced globalization era of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. It emerged at the level of finance ministers and central bank governors in response to the Asian financial crisis of 1997-1998. But it really took off ten years later, when member states came together in emergency mode to quell the panic caused by the collapse of US financial institutions and the ensuing global financial crisis. Since then, the G20 has been at the center of the international political-economic architecture.
The reasons for this are compelling. First, the official focus is on finance, trade, and economic concerns, which has so far allowed the growing political tensions between the largest participants to be circumvented. Second, the criterion by which the group is composed is the closest to what can be considered objective – the size of their economies. However, these two factors suffered most when the international situation deteriorated sharply.