Chapter 5: The Numbers Game in Asia-Pacific Cooperation
John Ravenhill INTRODUCTION 1. Multilateralism has not fared well in the first decade of the 21st century.1 The Doha Round of WTO negotiations were on the verge of collapse when this chapter was completed in mid-2011. The 2009 UN Climate Change Conference (COP-15 in Copenhagen) ended in acrimony with little more than an agreement to keep talking. Early high (undoubtedly exaggerated) hopes that the G-20, given the role it accords rising and middle powers, would provide an effective boost to multilateral problemsolving at the global level were dashed by the ineffectiveness the grouping displayed at the 2010 Toronto and Seoul summits. Meanwhile, inter-state cooperation at the regional level in the Asia-Pacific has scarcely fared better. The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation grouping has stagnated since 1998, when proposals for an accelerated programme of trade liberalization badly divided its membership. The ASEAN Regional Forum, the principal vehicle for examining security issues in the Asia-Pacific, has increasingly come under attack for being little more than a ‘talking shop’ that has failed to move beyond confidence-building measures to address substantive issues (Emmers and Seng 2011). The global financial crisis once again exposed the ineffectiveness and fragility of ASEAN itself and the ASEAN-led regional institutions: the East Asia Summit in Pattaya, Thailand, scheduled for April 2009, was postponed because of civil unrest caused by former Thai Premier Thaksin’s red-shirted supporters. Dissatisfaction with the lack of progress in global and regional multilateral institutions played a significant role in two sets of developments within the Asia-Pacific region. The...
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