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Summitry: The Medium and the Message

Sylvia Ostry

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The innovation of the summit can be seen as an institutional response to the combined effect of the weakening of the established system occasioned by the breakdown of Bretton Woods and the advent of new problems requiring resolution at the highest level.

Perhaps portentously, the most contentious issue at Rambouillet turned out to be the choice of countries to take part. The Italians managed to convince the French of their need to attend, but the French vetoed Canadian participation. Canada, however, was

In practice, the Library Group vision of the founders has been eroded in several respects, not only by the increase in size, but also by an escalation in formality, in the scope and preparation of agendas and an inevitable increase in publicity. French op

At the same time, in each country summitry has become a focal point for forward planning involving key departments of each government. This is an important, but overlooked, benefit of the process in that it fosters more internationally-oriented decision m

Thus the institution, or medium of the summit had two roots: a response to the weakening of international cooperation inherent in the breakdown of the fixed exchange rate system; and a crisis--the first oil shock. In the early 1980's summits were dominate

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