[Grand Prize] Koreas role in international order
Since the inception of the recent global economic crisis, the Group of Twenty (G20) represented an innovative form of international coordination and cooperation. The upcoming G20 summit is to take place in November 2010 in Seoul, South Korea, and the fact that South Korea is hosting as the first non-G7 member symbolizes its further potential role in the international order.
As part of the G20, South Korea shares a responsibility in becoming one of the role models to fulfill the Group’s mission, acting as a liaison between contrasting economic powers and promoting cooperation of East Asian countries. South Korea’s constructive and proactive leadership in the critical summit period should be performed for the stable future of the Group.
One of the unique features of the G20 is that developed states and emerging states are working together as one for the improvement of global economy and South Korea acts as a bridge between these two powers. South Korea has the history of transferring from developing to developed country status in such a fast pace through remarkable economic progress.
Turning that into an ability to consult with both sides more intimately, it is trying to develop into a globally working country, an example followed by its aim to gradually increase ODA budget. Further progress is displayed through its success in recent reformation in IMF policy in regards to the credit system, one of attempts to reduce the economic gap among countries. Moreover, outreach to non-member countries of the G20 and NGOs is necessary to enhance the quality of the agenda and to improve the perception of global citizens about the legitimacy, accountability, and transparency of the G20.
Additionally, in more of a specific term, South Korea plays an important role in the cooperation of East Asia. South Korea, China and Japan met in a Northeast Asia summit with the main discussion on dealing with the financial crisis, conducting negotiations on trade facilitation, investment protection, and more. In a smaller form of tripartite talk with similar interests, it is most likely that the three countries will make more cooperative efforts in economical, political, and security-related areas.
Within that framework, South Korea has a conciliatory and balancing role. On a greater scale, with the three countries participating in the ASEAN+3, its well-rounded leadership can encourage further opportunities and integration of the southeastern countries in the G20 which will simultaneously contribute to the purpose of the ASEAN, their regional stability.
It is vital that South Korea develops additional roles as the host of the upcoming G20 summit. First, it is important to analyze the structure of the G20. The G7, with less number of members, has comparatively demonstrated similar preferences and agreements in policy making process. However, the G20 is a multifarious group the Group is with a greater number of participants and radical differences in positions and interests on some of the key issues of the G20 agenda.
South Korea’s leadership role of brokering and mediating will become essential to the G20 to reconcile conflicting interests of the members. The country possesses multicultural assets of various active religions and openness to different cultures compared to other neighboring nations. It can use this strength in accommodating those interests that generate from diverse history, background, and religion.
Moreover, South Korea’s leadership as the G20 chair of 2010 and the host of the summit is especially significant for the coming future of the Group. As an ad hoc and makeshift group with the purpose of coping with the financial crisis, the drive of the G20 will eventually diminish when the global economy commences to recover from the crisis.
Aside from acknowledging the positive impacts that the G20 has brought in crisis management, the new challenge is to develop its permanent position as formal forum for international economic collaboration. One of the most important roles that South Korea must intake in the summit is to lead the Group toward developing a strong post-crisis strategy rather than an exit strategy.
It should consolidate a sense of ownership among the members and create a firm foundation of sustainability beyond crisis management.
The G20 became more active than ever due to the recent economic crisis, and South Korea has become one of the first ones to lead the change as part of the “rule-making” group. As a liaison among various countries, South Korea has the role of exerting leadership of tolerance and also a charismatic and proactive one at the same time. With the position and economic status that South Korea has attained thus far, the country has and should continue to contribute to the global society by staying committed to its international roles. It is time for South Korea to utilize its unique traits to take an unconventional role for the coming future of the Group of Twenty.