Emerging Powers and the UN: What Kind of Development Partnership?

by Thomas G. Weiss and Adriana Erthal Abdenur (editors)

Emerging Powers and the UN: What Kind of Development Partnership?

Special Issue of the Third World Quarterly, Volume 35, No. 10, 2014

Guest Editors: Thomas G. Weiss and Adriana Erthal Abdenur 

This Special Issue is available on the Third World Quarterly website here.

Whether the phenomenon of emerging powers reinforces the North–South divide or increases the diversity of positions and alignments within the international system, remains very much open to debate.

The ten essays in this volume (see below for full Table of Contents) address this debate and are the product of a fruitful collaboration between the Institute of International Relations at the Pontifical Catholic University in Rio de Janeiro (and its affiliated BRICS Policy Center) and the Future UN Development System Project of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies.

This joint research effort sought to analyse the changing role of emerging powers in light of ongoing intergovernmental discussions about the UN's capacity to foster sustainable development. By bringing together a mix of practitioners from inside and outside the UN and academics specialising in development and in South–South cooperation, a conference held in Rio in April 2014 provided the opportunity to test analyses of these dynamics from a variety of perspectives and to foment debate about the politics and policies of development governance in the post-cold war era. 

Table of Contents

Introduction by the Guest Editors, Adriana Erthal Abdenur and Thomas G. Weiss
Part 1: Inequalities and Multilateralism: Revisiting the North-South Axis
1. “Assessing the G77: 50 Years after UNCTAD I and 40 Years after the NIEO” by John Toye

2. “South-South Cooperation and the International Development Battlefield: between the OECD and the UN” by Paulo Esteves and Manaíra Assunção

3. “How Representative are the BRICS?” by Ramesh Thakur

Part 2: The Changing Development Cooperation Landscape

4. “The Financing of the UN Development System and the Future of Multilateralism” by Bruce Jenks

5. “Seizing the Power or Ducking for Cover? Emerging Powers at the UN” by Silke Weinlich

6. “A Changing World: Is the UN Development System Ready?” by Stephen Browne

7. “South-South Cooperation and the Future of Development Assistance: Mapping Actors and Options” by Paulo de Renzio and Jurek Seifert

8. “Rising Powers and International Development Norms: Brazil and China at the United Nations” by Adriana Erthal Abdenur

9. “Emerging Powers and the UN Development System: Canvassing Global Opinion” by Stephen Browne  and Thomas G. Weiss

10. “War-Torn Countries, Natural Resources, and Emerging-Country Investors” by Graciana del Castillo


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10:41:31 07.06.2014 | James Greyson
Lead radical reform with 'software' of inspiration not hardware of governance machinery
The many great minds among the UN and their national collaborators are not intrinsically locked into institutional boundaries and solutions as usual. Given an effective forum for new thinking, such as FutureUN, a small number of people could quickly go from reimagining development to refining policy proposals to get it. This 'software' of radical reform could run both in existing UN hardware of institutions and governance mechanisms and in the future UN hardware that could and should be capable of leading the global multi-issue problem-solving that has been awaited for 40 years.

My tip for making this work would be to follow the lead of this blog and reframe the niche-interest of sustainable development into a mainstream-interest 'global security' where everyone can more clearly see that outcomes (for jobs, growth, finances, peace, ecosystems, climate, water, food etc) are irreducibly indivisible and can be effectively managed only as a whole system. Hence the core future role for a whole-system-thinking UN?

I've elaborated more in this NATO-published piece which is part of a paper with policy proposals for how to do it, http://blindspot.org.uk/global-security/ Happy to discuss @blindspotting