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The Seven-Power Summit as a New Security Institution

John Kirton

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1. US President Nixon's unilateral decision (15 Aug. 1971) to devalue the US dollar, and to let other currencies 'float' to find an appropriate level against it, destroyed the regime, established with the creation of the International Monetary Fund in 1945 at Bretton Woods, under which countries would when necessary renegotiate changes in the fixed value of their national currencies against each other, and agree on new fixed values that reflected underlying fundamental economic forces. The Tokyo Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations (MTN), formally launched by members of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, remained moribund as the distractions of Watergate, and then the depressing 'stagflation' caused by the rapid rise in world oil prices in October 1973, made the United States unable and unwilling to offer the initial proposals and concessions that had traditionally led MTN rounds rapidly to achieve significant reductions in tariff end non-tariffbarriers. Finally, the October 1973 oil embargo by OAPEC, and consequent fourfold increase in world oil prices, overwhelmed the defensive mechanisms available to the OECD's Oil Committee, and led less developed countries to demand a 'new international economic order' well beyond the regimes then prevailing within the UN family of institutions.

2. Although the North Atlantic Treaty of 1949 had been importantly inspired, at the outset of the cold war, by the prospect that Italy and other Western European countries would fall prey to coalition governments including communists, and then communist-dominated governments (as had Czechoslovakia), the successor North Atlantic Treaty Organization proved incapable of stemming the rise of Eurocommunism in the 1970s. Similarly, the 1974 explosion by India of a so-called 'peaceful' nuclear device exposed the limitations and ineffectiveness of the regimes established by the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency in 1957 and NonProliferation Treaty of 1968. The politically self-imposed military defeat of the United States with the conquest of South Vietnam by communist North Vietnam in April 1975 demonstrated the impotence of the global array of regional alliances the United States had constructed in previous decades, and the end of America's ability and willingness to act as a 'global policeman'.

3. In addition to the post-World War ~ UN system, and the cold-war-inspired 'Atlantic' system, the past half century has seen the emergence of a system of geographucally adjacent land-based regional economic blocs, beginning with the European Community in 1957.

4. Michael Artis and Sylvia Ostry, International Economic Policy Coordination (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1986); Donald Watt, Next Steps for Summitry: Report of the Twentieth Century Fund International Conference on Economic Summitry (New York: Priority Press, 1984); and Robert Putnam and Nicholas Bayne, Hanging Together: Co-operation and Conflict in the Seven-Power Summits, rev. and enl. ed. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press, 1987).

5. Wilfried Guth, ed., Economic Policy Coordination (Washington: International Monetary Fund, 1988); Yoichi Funabashi, Managing the Dollar: From the Plaza to the Louvre, 2nd ed. (Washington: Institute for International Economics, 1989); and Georges de Menil, Les Sommets e'conomiques: les politiques rationales a l'heure de l'interdependance (Paris: Economica, 1983).

6. Cesare Merlini, ed., Economic Summits and Western Decision-Making (New York: St Martin's, 1984), 197.

7. R.G. Lipsey, 'Agendas for the 1988 and Future Summits', Canadian Public Policy 15 (Feb. 1989), S86-S91; and L. Waverman and T.A. Wilson, 'Macroeconomic Coordination and the Summit', ibid.

8. World Institute for Development Economics Research, World Economic Summits: The Role of Representative Groups in the Governance of the World Economy, Study Group Series 4 (Helsinki: WIDER, 1989).

9. Flora Lewis, 'The "G-7-1/2" Directorate', Foreign Policy 85 (1991-2), 25-40.

10. Putnam and Bayne, Hanging Together; Waverman and Wilson, 'Macroeconomic Co- ordination', World Economic Summits; and Merlini, Economic Summits.

11. De Menil, Les Sommets economiques; Artis and Ostry, International Economic Policy Coordination; and Funabashi, Managing the Dollar.

12. Guth, Economic Policy Coordination; and Watt, Next Steps for Summitry.

13. Artis and Ostry, International Economic Policy Coordination.

14. John Kirton, 'Introduction: The Significance of the Houston Summit', in Supplement: Documents from the 1990 Summit, ed. Peter Hajnal (Millwood, NY: Kraus International, 1991), ix-xvii; idem, 'Sustainable Development at the Houston Seven- Power Summit', paper prepared for the Foreign Policy Committee of the Canadian National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy, 6 September 1990; idem, 'Introduction: The Significance of the Seven-Power Summit', in The Seven- Power Summit: Documents from the Summits of Industrialized Countries 19751989, ed. Peter Hajnal (Millwood, NY: Kraus International, 1989), xxi_xii; idem 'Contemporary Concert Diplomacy: The Seven-Power Summit and the Management of International Order', a paper prepared for the annual meeting of the International Studies Association, London, 1989; and John Holmes and John Kirton, eds, Canada and the New Internationalism (Toronto: Canadian Institute of International Affairs, 1989).

15. Charles Kupchan and Clifford Kupchan, 'Concerts, Collective Security and the Future of Europe', International Security 16 (Summer 1991), 114-61.

16. Kirton, 'Contemporary Concert Diplomacy'.

17. For figures on military spending, see the annual reports by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

18. However, it must be recalled that Germany and Italy have the attractive alternative of the European Community as a post-war institution in which they can have a powerful first-tier, if regionally confined, place.

19. Wendy Dobson, Economic Policy Coordination: Requiem or Prologue? (Washington: Institute for International Economics, 1991).

20. From the start the individual preparing the summit on behalf of his or her leader was in name, and often in fact, a 'personal representative', to underscore the fact that this was a leader-driven forum, rather than an institution influenced by bureaucrats with any independent authority. Personal representatives thus found it appropriate to take the nickname of 'sherpa' after the Tibetans who merely bear the bags of their mountaineering masters as they ascend the real summits.

21. For the start of systematic empirical work in this area see George M. Von Furstenberg and Joseph P. Daniels, 'Policy Undertakings by the Seven "Summit" Countries: Ascertaining the Degree of Compliance', pp. 267-308 in Allan Meltzer and Charles Plosser, eds, Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy 35 (1991); and George M. Von Furstenberg and Joseph P. Daniels, 'Economic Summit Declarations, 1975-1989: Examining the Written Record of International Cooperation', Princeton Studies in International Finance 72 (Feb. 1992).

22. Putnam and Bayne, Hanging Together.

23. John Ikenberry, 'Market Solutions for State Problems: The International and Domestic Politics of American Oil Decontrol', International Organization 42 (Winter 1988), 151-79; Jim MacNeill, Pieter Winsemius, and Taizo Yakushiji, Beyond Interdependence: The Meshing of the World's Economy and the Earth's Ecology (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1991); and Kirton, 'Sustainable Development at the Houston Seven-Power Summit'

24. George Takach, 'Moving the Embassy to Jerusalem, 1979', in Don Munton and John Kirton, eds, Canadian Foreign Policy: Selected Cases (Scarborough: Prentice Hall, 1992), 273-85; David Leyton-Brown, 'Canadianizing Oil and Gas: The National Energy Program, 1980-8', in ibid., 299-310; J.L. Granatstein and Robert Bothwell, Pirouette: Pierre Trudeau and Canadian Foreign Policy (Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Press, 1990).

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