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Summitry: The Medium and the Message

Sylvia Ostry

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So much for the chronology of summitry. What next, in Toronto?

The challenge confronting summit leaders at Toronto in June 1988 will be--as is evident from this brief history of the medium and the message of summitry--both familiar and formidable. Just consider the political setting: the final period of the Reagan Pr

It is clear that the requirement of effective international coordination runs head-on into the sensitive issue of the limits of national sovereignty. It is worthwhile spelling out how this is manifested in practice. Not only do countries have different pr

Nonetheless the progress in policy coordination since the Bonn Summit has been considerable. Policy steps in the right direction, if not, perhaps, of the desired magnitude, have been taken and a process of surveillance has been launched.

While in the international monetary sphere agreement on a new regime--the commitment to new "rules"--is some years away, there has been real progress in the trade field where a successful completion of the Uruguay Round should indeed produce new and more

So the real question about summitry is not whether it has been a catalyst for progress but whether the momentum for change launched since Bonn will be sufficient to prevent a rupture in the world monetary or trading system over the period of transition to

Although episodic and unpredictable--one need only recall Bitburg or Chernobyl in recent years--summitry is the only forum which includes leaders of the major economic powers. Only these leaders have the authority to integrate nationally policies concerni

The most apt comment on summitry then may be a paraphrase of Churchill: it is a reed too frail to support the process of managing interdependence--except when you consider the alternatives.

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