ISSN (Print) 1996-7845

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Marina Larionova1
  • 1 RANEPA, 11 Prechistenskaya naberezhnaya, Moscow, 119034, Russia

The G20, BRICS and APEC in the System of International Institutions: A Piece of Good News for Global Governance

2018. Vol. 13. No. 1. P. 7–33 [issue contents]

The rise of new institutions in response to systemic vulnerabilities, strategic power shifts in the world economy and the slow pace of reform of existing institutions generated heated discussions over the proliferation of institutions and the subsequent fragmentation of global governance. However, this fragmentation does not mean there has been a decline in demand for global governance or reduced efficiency. On the contrary, it can be beneficial, positive and creative [Acharya, 2016].

Though essentially different in their missions and collective identities, the Group of 20 (G20), the BRICS grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum each has an important role to play in promoting the inclusiveness, legitimacy and efficiency of global governance. The distinctive features of these institutions are the nature of their summitry, the character of their volunteerism and their recognition of the role of major developing countries in world economic growth and global and regional governance. They are deeply embedded within the system of international institutions and are intensely engaged with international organizations (IOs).

This engagement does not directly address the concerns over fragmentation. However, it does stimulate a division of labour which mitigates the risks of fragmentation and competition, facilitating coordination, coherence, accountability and effectiveness in global governance.

This paper examines G20/BRICS/APEC engagement with international organizations in fulfillment of their global governance functions of deliberation, direction-setting, decision-making, delivery and global/regional governance development.

The study is carried out within the paradigm of rational choice institutionalism. It draws on quantitative and qualitative analysis of documents adopted by the G20, BRICS and APEC to trace dynamics and identify their preferred models of engagement with multilateral organizations.

The article begins with a brief outline of the roles of the G20, BRICS and APEC in the system of global governance. Then it presents the analytical paradigm and methodology of the study. Applying the described methodology, it tests the key assumption that summit institutions can resort to a combination of “catalyst,” “core group” and “parallel treatment modes” in their engagement with IOs and that their preferred choice reflects their mission and role in the system of international institutions which may change over time. Reviewing the findings, this article concludes that the G20, BRICS and APEC consistently engage with IOs even while the range of organizations, the intensity, the dynamics and models of engagement differ substantially.

The G20, a premier forum for consensus-based economic cooperation, seeks to fulfill the promise of facilitating greater coherence in the system across institutions [Narlikar, Kumar, 2012, p. 389] to forge a new form of institutional collectivism. The G20 exceeds the BRICS and APEC in terms of the number of references to IOs, intensity and scope. It employs all three modes, engaging its key partners — the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Financial Stability Board (FSB), the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Bank (WB), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) — mostly as a core group across the full range of global governance functions from deliberation to delivery. The BRICS, representing a new force in global governance, strives to build a better world order for humanity through a constructive contribution to defining the rules of the game [Duggan, 2015, p. 11]. The BRICS consistently acts as a catalyst stimulating, endorsing, compelling and supporting change of the United Nations (UN), the IMF, the WB and the WTO and building a BRICS-centred institutional system. APEC as a regional premier economic forum and a vehicle of Asia-Pacific engagement in global issues [Morrison, 2014, p. 2] advances inclusive growth regionally and globally. This duality is explicit in APEC’s choice of partners, where the top ten positions are split between global and regional IOs. APEC expedites integration of regional and global agendas, facilitates coordination between regional and multilateral institutions and reinforces their mutual influence.

Jointly the G20, BRICS and APEC contribute to more effective global policy coordination. Though there is definitely room for improvement, this is indeed good news, raising hopes for the future of global governance.


Larionova M.(2018) The G20, BRICS and APEC in the System of International Institutions: A Piece of Good News for Global Governance. International Organisations Research Journal, vol. 13, no 1б, pp. 7-33 (in Russian and English). DOI: 10.17323/1996-7845-2018-01-01. 

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