I would like to commend you for calling this meeting. I would also like to thank Ambassador Ho-Young Ahn and the Republic of Korea, not only for the statement today on the preparation for the Seoul summit, but also for having reached out to Nordic and Baltic countries in consultations in Helsinki 24 August. Finally, I am grateful to the Secretary General for listening to the advice of Member States prior to the summit in Seoul.
The G20’s actions to spur recovery from the financial and economic crisis led to a less severe dip in global growth rates than what was feared. The group’s measures cushioned the impact of the crisis on poverty and employment. Norway commends the G20 countries for putting band aid on the global economy when it was needed.
But the G20 is a self-appointed group without a universal mandate. It lacks the legitimacy that is derived from formal multilateralism based on treaty and consent. Going forward this poses challenges, in particular if the largest economies in the world maintain that this group is their premier forum for international economic cooperation.
First of all, around 170 countries are not members of the G20. It is therefore evident that significant interests are not included in G20 deliberations. This places clear limits on how much the G20 can achieve.
Secondly, formal multilateralism enjoys legitimacy not least because members answer to each other based on established ground rules. This enhances overall transparency and contributes to fulfilment of commitments and agreements. The informal decision-making process of the G20 proved its strength in the midst of the crisis. However, in the long run, the accountability inherent in formal multilateralism is needed in solving global problems.
And thirdly, we all need to pull together in solving global social and economic challenges. Our international architecture is already fractured. A necessary starting point in discussing how the G20 fits in our architecture is to acknowledge that the G20 exists. We should focus on how this group’s deliberations and decisions best can support our overall efforts in fighting poverty, securing employment and enhancing global and sustainable growth.
Norway has proposed a system of regional representation in the G20, a system which in our view would enhance the group’s effectiveness and legitimacy.
We also believe that there should be a role for the UN in facilitating the dialogue between members and non-members of the G20. The UN should contribute to coordinating the actions of this limited group with the overall efforts of the whole membership. The Charter gives the UN the mandate to achieve international cooperation in solving economic and social problems. And yet, many argue that the UN does not have sufficient expertise in macro-economic issues.
It is true that Ministries of Finance, Central Banks and Financial Supervisory Authorities tend not to attend or prepare UN meetings. And 2nd committee deliberations in its current form do not generally require their involvement. However, Norway is willing to work with our partners to explore topics for UN deliberations that would involve those who are in charge of economic policy.
All Member States are responsible for ensuring the UN’s relevance. Going to Seoul, as well as to other meetings with limited groups of countries, the Secretary General should be encouraged to engage Member States in an exchange of views with the aim of strengthening the coordinating role of the UN. Norway also believes that greater involvement of the UN Secretariat in preparing for the G20 summits could better position the UN to coordinate between the G20 and other mini- or multilateral initiatives.
In closing I would like to express my gratitude to you, Mr.President, once again for taking the initiative to this meeting and for having called a follow-up meeting after the Seoul summit, which will allow us to continue this important discussion.