The G20 and Contested Global Governance: BRICS, Middle Powers and Small States

Andrew F. Cooper


The G20 opens a critical lens into the nature of contested global governance at a time of fundamental re-ordering. Although increasing their status. The BRICS have not made sustained efforts to influence the design of the G20. By way of contrast a number of middle powers have exhibited more assertive diplomatic styles as hosts and policy entrepreneurs. While initially left outside the summit process, some key small states worked extensively through coalitional diplomacy to gain some degree of access to the G20. This paper showcases the degree to which the contestation about the nature of new forms of global governance must be nuanced. The main route of contestation for the big rising powers has come via parallel institutional structures - notably through the formalization of the BRICS. Middle powers and smaller states, with a greater sense of the stakes involved concerning 'hub' institutionalization, have a much greater incentive to actively engage with the G20.

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