World leaders from the 20 top economies as well as observer states met Sunday and Monday in southern Turkey for the annual G-20 summit. The gathering had been set to focus on an ambitious agenda to promote inclusive economic growth and global trade and investment. The terrorist attacks in Paris, however, overshadowed the meetings and raised hard questions about whether such summits can ever really grapple with the inequalities that lead to radicalization and despair.
The G-20 was created in 1999 but really swung into action during the 2008 global financial crisis. At the time it was seen as a useful intermediate mechanism for coordinated action on the international economic system, between the more elite G-7 grouping of highly industrialized countries and the more inclusive global financial institutions. The G-20, midwifed by Canada, had the virtue of including the G-7 plus the major emerging markets and some of the success stories of the Global South. Its other virtue was that it did not seek to be a new formal institution, eschewing a permanent secretariat and preparing its meetings in a more agile way by drawing on existing financial expert staff in the central banks and finance ministries of its members.
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