South Korea in the G-20 Spotlight

South Korea views its role as host of November's G-20 summit as another opportunity to mark its arrival on the world stage. But it should make more of its opportunity than this, and instead exercise substantive leadership.

CAMBRIDGE – South Korea has an historic opportunity when it chairs the G-20 meeting in Seoul on November 11-12, for this will be the first time that a non-G-7 country has hosted the G-20 since the larger body supplanted the G-7 as the steering committee of the world economy. But there is a danger that the G-20 will now prove too unwieldy. 

South Korea justifiably views its role as host as another opportunity to mark its arrival on the world stage. But it should make more of its opportunity than this, and instead exercise substantive leadership. Otherwise, its turn at the G-20’s helm risks resembling the chaotic Czech presidency of the European Union in 2009, which confirmed some larger EU members’ belief that it is a mistake to let smaller countries do the driving.

The challenge for South Korea stems from the inevitable tradeoff between legitimacy and workability. The G-7 was small enough to be workable, but too small to claim legitimacy. The United Nations is big enough to claim legitimacy, but too big to be workable.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

To read this article from our archive, please log in or register now. After entering your email, you'll have access to two free articles every month. For unlimited access to Project Syndicate, subscribe now.

required

By proceeding, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, which describes the personal data we collect and how we use it.

Log in

http://prosyn.org/xyWkINM;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.