Perspectives on Global Summitry
Edited by Steven Slaughter
Chapter 2: The G20 and realist International Relations theory
Realist International Relations theory focuses its account of world politics on the power of states and the ways in which they can act to assure their security and national interests. Realist scholarship contends that global cooperation and governance is conditioned and limited by the actions of powerful states. This chapter considers the current and future significance of the G20 by contending that realism can explain some of the key design features of the G20. In particular, the chapter argues that the informal and non-legal nature and limited membership of the G20 is consistent with realist conceptualizations and purposes. As such, realists conceive of the G20 as a specific form of governance best characterized as an informal concert of states. Therefore, the realist contention is that the G20 is best seen as being primarily a limited crisis committee, despite desires to widen and deepen its agenda.
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