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Luxembourg Foreign Minister on international governance reform


By dxw

Speaking at our first meeting to be held in Luxembourg, on the topic ‘Reforming international governance?’, Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn argued the case for multilateralism and gradual reform of international institutions.


Reforming international governance?

Wednesday 15 – Friday 17 June 2011 (WP1112)

There is broad agreement that challenges of globalisation require changes in global governance. The recent global economic crisis brought the G20 to prominence in international economic cooperation and reflects a rebalancing of the global political order.  Yet the G20’s legitimacy, as an informal grouping, is also questioned.

In association with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Luxembourg and the Pierre Werner Institute, we brought together policy-makers, representatives of international institutions, academics and other experts to:

  • examine how reforms to international governance may best respond to contemporary geo-political and economic realities
  • contribute towards ongoing discussions on United Nations (UN), including Security Council, reform
  • input to discussions on UN and G20 interaction and consultation, and the preparations for the G20 summit in November 2011

Speaking on the final day of the conference, Luxembourg’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Jean Asselborn, argued that the UN remains at the core of the multilateral system, and combines the knowledge and legitimacy required to play the leading role in defining urgent and collective responses to contemporary global challenges. At the same time, it should not shy away from the reforms necessary to improve the effectiveness of the multilateral system.


From left to right: Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn and senior officials from the Luxembourg Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Georges Frieden, Political Director, Sylvie Lucas, Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York and Sasha Baillie, Deputy Secretary General


Luxembourg’s Minister of Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs, Marie-Josée Jacobs, also took part in the conference, speaking about how the global economic framework and institutions can better deliver development.  Minister of Finance, Luc Frieden, opened the conference. Participants included senior diplomatic representatives from the USA, Singapore, Zambia, Mexico, Kenya, Dominica, France, Germany and the UK, former Deputy Secretary-General of the UN, Louise Frechette, academics from India and China, and international non-governmental organisations such as the International Trade Union Confederation. 

Among issues arising in discussion were:

  • the need to recognise what has been achieved to-date in reforming existing institutions, including the UN and the International Monetary Fund
  • the active and sustained engagement of member states is required for reform to be achieved in any institution, and reforms generally only work if jointly owned by both ‘established powers’ as well as ‘growth powers’
  • reform is likely to be incremental rather than revolutionary, and is a continuous process;  it needs to be tailored to the specific institution
  • the international environment has changed completely since the UN was established and member states seem unclear on the UN’s role in the contemporary world: it comprises an ‘operational’ role, through the UN Development Programme, or UN Children’s Fund; a ‘specialised’ role, for example the World Health Organisation;  and a ‘political’ role, represented especially by the Security Council.  It is a disservice to conflate these roles
  • the selection process for the head of international institutions needs to be made transparent and based on merit, with the entitlement to serve one term of office only


Further information

Conference on Reforming international governance?

Presentation notes of Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister

Presentation notes of Marie-Josée Jacobs, Luxembourg’s Minister of Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs (in French).