The annual Group of 20 (G–20) summit ended as scheduled at the weekend. Most people have, by now, taken in much of what has been reported about the meeting in Argentina. There would be people who consider the G–20 “just another talk shop”. The usual suspects would, with Pavlovian predictability, invoke grand conspiracies about capitalism, imperialism or “sub-imperialism”. Let us hand them squishy toys, send them to their bedrooms and have a grown-up discussion. To be clear, measurable achievements of last weekend’s meeting in Argentina should emerge in the coming weeks. What I will discuss here are some of the origins and context of the G–20, the systemic challenge the group represents for better management of global economic governance and, very briefly, the important role SA played over the first decade of the group’s formation. Officially, the G–20 was brought to life in 1999, but its seminal moments may be traced back to the formation of the UN System and the Bretton Woods Confe...

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