In part 1 of this blog, “A Canadian G7 Initiative: New Faces for a More Inclusive G20,” I proposed the enhancement of the G20 by adding two new members — representing LDCs (least developed countries) and fragile states — I outlined the benefits for Canada, for the G7, for the G20, and for the world. In this second part, I set out the key steps involved in making this initiative a reality.
A political green light and positive vibes would add quite a few tasks to Canada’s preparations for the next G7 meeting in June. Critically, this proposal would need some early salesmanship by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with key European G7 leaders (especially Germany, France, and the UK).
Once it decides politically to take this initiative forward, Canada will need to mobilize its G7 sherpa, the senior official who leads the negotiation process. He will need extensive discussions with his peers from other G7 countries to build the essential consensus. While the initiative would be Canada’s, the challenge will quickly become one of getting other G7 countries to support it.
Given that much of the final critical work will need to be done jointly with G20 colleagues, it might be sensible to engage them early on, notably the sherpa from Argentina, the G20 summit’s host in November 2018. It might also be good diplomacy to informally involve him in the G7 sherpas’ pre-consultations on this specific topic. China as the self-identified non-G7 global leader in the G20 could perhaps also be involved, especially if it proves sympathetic to the idea.
Consensus-building will be critical at both the G7 and G20 sherpa stages. Herding the G7 cats towards a consensus could be difficult, especially if some fear unwanted pressures for global policy action from these poorest countries. These consensus issues are typically resolved by those busy sherpas. Only if no consensus can be found do political leaders need to engage in final negotiations. On the plus side, it is unlikely that any G7 or G20 leader would want to be seen as the spoiler, blocking this essentially cost-free initiative, one that would be cheered by the world’s poorest countries, politically active Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), and international commentators. (Of course, the US voice is especially unpredictable.)
If the 2018 G20 signs-off on the Canadian initiative, then operationalizing the two new permanent seats will become an urgent task. The new LDC member country would be selected by other LDCs, and similarly the fragile state member would be selected by g7+ members. The LDC and g7+ groups (which incidentally substantially overlap) would set their own rules for rotating their G20 members. That first G22 meeting might be as early as 2019!
This blog is a shortened version of an article published in OpenCanada on 23 January 2018. Part 1 of the CIPS version, “A Canadian G7 Initiative: New Faces for a More Inclusive G20” appears here.
Join CIPS on 26 January 2018 for a discussion with Peter M. Boehm, Deputy Minister for the G7 Summit and Prime Minister Trudeau’s personal representative (sherpa) at the G7.