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Developing countries need stronger voices in international system to ensure its legitimacy says WTO head

The legitimacy of the United Nations system and other international organisations depends upon developing countries being given stronger voices within them writes the Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in the October issue of the London School of Economics and Political Sciences' journal Global Policy.

In his paper Pascal Lamy argues that developing countries do not have  sufficient weight in these organisations to ensure 'credible and legitimate outcomes'.

He writes: 'International organizations are where global decision making takes place. It is true that some of these organizations still have some way to go in terms of reforming their governance structures in order for them to adapt to today's realities, as is the case with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund'.

He points to the replacement of the G8 with the G20, as the principal grouping of nations, as an acknowledgement that developing countries have not had enough say in global policy making in the recent past.

He says: 'No longer do we live in a bipolar world as we did in the cold war, when the two superpowers exerted powerful influence on much of the world. In trade terms, the days when the European Union, the United States, Japan and Canada could decide the way forward for the rest…are over.'

Lamy also advocates integrating international issues into domestic political debates.

He says, 'The problems we face today are increasingly global in nature while politics, all politics remains local. If we cannot address the democratic deficit in global governance, we cannot expect citizens to agree to cede sovereignty to international organizations.'

'The fact that in an organization like the WTO decisions are taken by consensus and each country has one vote may not be enough to create a sense of legitimacy in the actions of the organization.'

Other papers in this issue of Global Policy include Claude Henry and Joseph E. Stiglitz discussing intellectual property and innovation, Robert Falkner on Climate Policy after Copenhagen, Eric Helleiner on the new Financial Stability Board and Klaus Dodds on sovereignty in the Arctic Ocean.


Posted: 28 October 2010

Notes to editors

Global Policy, available at www.globalpolicyjournal.com, is an innovative new journal that brings together academics and leaders to analyse solutions to the world's most pressing problems. It is based at the London School of Economics and Political Science, published in association with Wiley Blackwell and distributed worldwide. 

Electronic copies of the papers of the October issue of Global Policy are available from http://www.globalpolicyjournal.com/journal-issue/vol-1-issue-3-october-2010 

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