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Making the G-20 a True Global Security Forum

Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011

Accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo in December 2009, President Barack Obama expressed his concern that the existing global "architecture is buckling under the weight of new threats."

Part of the problem is that there is no true global-security forum. In the aftermath of the attacks of Sept. 11, Amitai Etzioni suggested that the resulting ad hoc anti-terrorism coalition might evolve into what he termed a "Global Safety Authority," but this has not occurred. The U.N. Security Council, which according to the United Nations Charter is supposed to take up this function, has several problems. First, its membership is not aligned with the actual distribution of power as it exists in the early 21st century, and a number of key powers are not necessarily included at any given time. (It is, after all, a happy accident that India, Brazil and South Africa will all serve as nonpermanent members this year.) Moreover, the Security Council is not really a mechanism for effective coordination: Its bureaucratic procedures are too structured and too formal to permit it to have any sort of rapid-reaction capability. ...

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