The Stanley Foundation
Seeking a secure peace with freedom and justice, built on global citizenship and effective global governance.
U.S. can't be world's only problem solver

Vlad Sambaiew
The Des Moines Register
December 2010

Recent United Nations talks in Cancun brought welcome steps forward on the climate change challenge and highlight a key feature of 21st-century international politics: Leadership in tackling global problems will depend increasingly on cooperation with rising powers and developing nations. Mexico deserves special credit both for hosting a well-organized conference and skillfully shepherding many different national views toward a successful outcome. The contrast with the bitterly divisive 2009 Copenhagen climate change meeting could not be clearer.

The point is that international affairs leadership is no longer the preserve of longtime world powers, such as the United States, Western European nations, and sometimes Russia. While all eyes are now focused on China and its rapidly growing role in a whole host of issues, China itself is part of a larger changing global landscape. Mexico is a prime illustration. Most Americans think of Mexico in terms of drugs, violence and illegal immigration, but do not realize that Mexico is a regional power with a growing middle class and significant influence in key international bodies such as the United Nations. Brazil is another regional power with growing international clout. It has South America's largest economy, longtime ambitions for a more prominent world role, and a highly professional diplomatic service to promote its perspectives.

Two phrases help explain today's leadership context: the "G-20" and "responsible stakeholdership." Nations that make up the G-20 represent more than 80 percent of the world's population and economic output. Since the first summit in November 2008 hosted by then-President George Bush in Washington, the leaders of 19 nations plus the European Union have met four times to deal with the world's continuing economic and financial difficulties. The early November Seoul G-20 summit was the first time the group met outside North America and Europe.

As the crisis phase of the global economic downturn passes, the G-20 grouping faces questions about its longer-term role - not just for its mandate of economic diplomacy, but for international cooperation more broadly. The strength of the G-20 is that it represents a solid cross section of today's leading nations. Unlike the U.N. Security Council, the G-20 includes six representatives from Asia alone (Australia, China, Japan, India, Indonesia, South Korea) and includes leading nations from all world regions.

The gradual inclusion of issues beyond economic policy at these top-level gatherings seems a natural step. Given the global challenges, it would be a missed opportunity to bring heads of state together from all world regions and then artificially limit what they can discuss or decide.

Here is where the term "responsible stakeholdership" enters the picture. Originally coined by World Bank President Robert Zoellick with respect to China and its role in the world system, the essential point is that powerful nations must help to maintain that system. Put another way, the standard should be that leaders on all continents act and think about how best to respond to shared global challenges. Progress on climate change is certainly an important step, but there are many other areas deserving top-level attention: Nuclear nonproliferation, better security of dangerous nuclear materials, basic human rights, and increased anti-terrorism cooperation are just a few.

In sum, we are all now part of a highly globalized world in which newly influential nations, important international organizations and many nongovernmental groups play a much greater role. Clearly, the United States is a central and great power, but it cannot solve the world's problems alone. It is up to leaders' groups such as the G-20 to build and use the structures that can work to our overall benefit in the dynamic and complex 21st-century world.
Share: Email Facebook Twitter
2017 International Women Authors Event 2017 International Women Authors Event
Pulitzer Prize finalist Laila Lalami, author of “The Moor’s Account,” will be the featured speaker at the 2017 International Women Authors event on November 9 in Rock Island, Illinois.

Courier Courier
As summer winds down, take a look at the new issue of Courier from the Stanley Foundation. The Summer 2017 issue delves into topics including the transition away from coal in Germany, the increased role of cities in global governance, and the crisis in Venezuela. Also in this issue, read about the increased capabilities of 3D printing, and oversight over emerging technologies. Summer 2017 PDF (1,151K) Subscribe for FREE.

Stanley Foundation Annual Conferences Stanley Foundation Annual Conferences
The Stanley Foundation holds two annual conferences, UN Issues and the Strategy for Peace Conference. These bring together experts from the public and private sectors to meet in a distraction-free setting and candidly exchange ideas on pressing foreign policy challenges.

Divided into roundtable talks, the cutting-edge discussions are intended to inspire group consensus and shared recommendations to push forward the debate on the foundation’s key policy areas.

A Climate for Conflict: Stories from Somalia A Climate for Conflict: Stories from Somalia
The Ground Truth Project, New America, and the Stanley Foundation are hosting a Screening of “A Climate for Conflict” and discussion with the creators followed by a panel discussion on Climate Security and Societal Resilience on May 30, 2017.

Somalia today is at a crossroads between a deepening crisis and a path to stability. Photographer and filmmaker Nichole Sobecki and writer Laura Heaton spent 18 months documenting personal stories of Somalia, creating a film, photography, and reporting that vividly illustrate the human consequences and security risks of a changing climate. Read more.

Follow the conversation online with #AClimateforConflict.

Stanley Foundation at 60
On December 12, 1956, the Stanley Foundation was certified as a nonprofit corporation in the state of Iowa, bringing to life an organization dedicated to creating a world in which there is a secure peace with freedom and justice. Sixty years later, the organization continues to pursue and advance that vision as a thriving nonpartisan operating foundation. Moreover, it remains an organization with a professional staff and the involvement of family members who have an ongoing role in shaping its strategy and core values. More.

Receive Materials Receive Materials
The Stanley Foundation publishes policy briefs, analytical articles, and reports on a number of international issues. To reduce our carbon footprint and cut waste, we almost exclusively, use electronic distribution for our publications. Sign up to receive our resources via e-mail.

the latest the latest
Our bimonthly newsletter is filled with resources to keep you up to date with our work at the Stanley Foundation. Each edition includes news about recent publications and stories as well as features our people and partners.

You will also find many extras, from upcoming events to multimedia resources. Sign up for the latest to stay engaged on key global issues.

Watch and Learn Watch and Learn
Stanley Foundation events, talks, video reports, and segments from our Now Showing event-in-a-box series can now be viewed on YouTube. To receive regular updates on our video posts, please subscribe today.