Leading developing country officials have defended the G20
against criticism that it lacks legitimacy, as experts warned
the groups limited representation would undermine its
effectiveness on issues beyond immediate crisis resolution.
African Development Bank president Donald Kaberuka said the
involvement of low-income African nations in the G20 process
was a step in the right direction, though more work had to be
done to include a broader range of poor countries.
Clearly we cannot have everybody around the table, but
the G20 has opened up to other countries. The African Union is
here, he told Emerging Markets in an interview.
It is important to figure out how the low-income
countries have their voice at the table as well.
He added: The G20 as a group has got a force of
But Paola Subacchi, head of international economics at
Chatham House, said that the groups ability to act on
wider issues such as development required meaningful
participation by more developing countries.
With the broader agenda, the issue of membership is
there, because you cant discuss development, for example,
without input from poor countries, she said.
The G20 wants to play a much bigger role and act like
a steering committee, but a broader agenda requires the G20 to
expand its membership and reach a more inclusive level of
These governance and legitimacy issues have to be
addressed in the long-run.
Former senior IMF official Jack Boorman said that the
groups exclusivity was problematic. One of the
problems of the G20 is that they continue to say that they
represent 85% of the global economy, but that still leaves out
[some] 167 countries, many of which should have a voice.
If you had constituency representation, you would have
a buy-in that doesnt exist at the moment.
Amar Bhattacharya, director of the G24 group of developing
countries, acknowledged that while there is a fundamental
legitimacy issue, we cannot have 192 countries at the
He said that the G20 had to take centre stage given the
current crisis conditions because of a lack of
The G20 is a self-selected group that is gathering the
most important countries in the world, he said.
They can do two valuable things: they can coordinate
among themselves towards finding a better global solution and
they can help push for reforms in global institutions like the
IMF and the World Bank.
But he added that the final decision must go to
NGOs also acknowledged the G20s importance but noted
that the group must bear in mind the far-reaching effects of
The G20 is not a global directorate. But these
countries do represent around 80% of the global GDP. Every
leader of these countries has a strong responsibility vis
à vis their own population. And their decisions have
important consequences for the whole planet, said Luc
Lamprière, director general of Oxfam France.
The French presidency is pushing to further institutionalize
the group by creating a permanent secretariat.
The idea was supported this week by business leaders in
Cannes, but it has been slammed by others who fear the move
would create another large bureaucracy, undermining the