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Widened G20 would include views of more nations, South-East Asian nations tell UN

Widened G20 would include views of more nations, South-East Asian nations tell UN

Foreign Minister George Yeo of Singapore
The so-called Group of 20 (G20) industrialized nations must be reformed to strike the perfect balance between effectiveness and inclusiveness, top officials from Singapore and Malaysia told the General Assembly today.

The G20 played a crucial role in helping to ameliorate the impact of the financial crisis, Singapore’s Foreign Minister George Yeo told the Assembly’s annual high-level debate.

“Though not ideal, it is the most important driver of change we have right now,” he said, adding that the United Nations is “too intricate” to deal with such problems.

But for the G20 to be effective and legitimate, “it is not enough for leaders to confer and make general exhortations,” Mr. Yeo stated.

These gatherings should not be confined to the same nations every time, he said, calling for “variable geometry in membership.”

The official proposed different participants for different subjects, stressing that “the views of small States, which comprise the majority of UN members, must not be ignored.”

He emphasized that “a balance has to be struck between effectiveness and inclusiveness,” since a gathering that is too big would be too unwieldy, while a meeting that is too small would lack “representation and legitimacy.”

Recognizing that power shifts never occur smoothly, Mr. Yeo called for a collective effort in putting a new global system into place.

“We should not be lulled by the temporary easing of the global economy into thinking that the worst is behind us and that we can return to our old ways again.”

For his part, Foreign Minister Datuk Anifah bin Haji Aman of neighbouring Malaysia said that while the G20 includes a greater number of nations than the Group of Eight (G8), “questions still remain as to how representative and inclusive it truly is.”

Mr. Aman underscored that that “the choice between legitimacy and effectiveness is often a false one.”

Malaysia, he said, was the first to call for reform of the Bretton Woods institutions and bolstering the international financial regulatory system in the wake of the Asian financial crisis.

“This means that ideas and solutions are not the monopoly of the large and power,” the Foreign Minister emphasized.