Workshop: Emerging Powers and New Development Institutions The NDB and the AIIB

Global Studies Institute, University of Geneva, November 24th and 25th 2016


Brief description

Over the past fifteen years, the field of international development has undergone tectonic shifts. On the one hand, the gamut of stakeholders providing development assistance and cooperation has broadened far beyond the traditional OECD donors and multilateral institutions like the Bretton Woods Institutions. On the other, several large developing countries and emerging economies have become important providers of South-South development cooperation and South-South trade, often claiming that their approach was more horizontal and effective than North-South traditional aid. With the formation of loose coalitions such as the BRICS, some of these providers have magnified their calls for a more representative global governance system— one that better reflects the current distribution of power in the international order. These changes, in turn, prompt new questions about which stakeholders, including states, get to set the norms, principles and practices – notably in the fields of development financing and cooperation.

In addition and interrelated, while the growing economic weight of emerging economies vis- à-vis the traditional trade hegemons is well documented, the consequences of these market shifts for the regulation of the global economy and emerging powers’ evolving role in the structures of global economic governance are less well understood. This has spurred a relatively new but growing literature on emerging countries in particular the BRICS (e.g. Alexandroff/Cooper 2010; Drezner 2007; Ikenberry/Wright 2008; Narlikar 2010; Nye 2011; Zacharias 2008). However, this literature remains broad and little in-depth research exists; in part due to the novelty of the phenomenon. This workshop addresses the question of power shifts in the international system with a particular focus on two new South-led development institutions closely related to international development financing and cooperation: the New Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

Whereas the shifts in economic power are by now well documented, we know relatively little about what large emerging economies seek from the global and regional systems, how their insertion into international rules affects the domestic organisation of state and society, what exact rational sustain their efforts and how these countries define and pursue their interests. While a large literature exists on mechanisms of diffusion that have to do with the supply of international norms associated with the United States and the European Union, there is still a gap in systematically explaining efforts and key rationals – starting with “South-South Cooperation” – adopted by emerging powers and in particular the BRICS towards furthering new concepts for development.

The NDB and AIIB epitomize this ambition to set new norms and representations, and as these projects have been unfolding at a speeding pace since 2015, new questions emerge as to their institutional and financial design, priorities, guidelines and operations. Bringing together some well-known scholars working on these issues as well as practitioners, the workshop seeks to widen our understanding of the role of emerging countries in launching and shaping new development institutions. In doing so, the workshop looks particular attention at the challenges faced by the regulatory transition taking place in emerging economies which spurred the NDB and the AIIB initiatives. It seeks to answer questions such as:

  • How did both NDB and AIIB came about and how do these articulate? And what is actually
  • new about them, compared to existing Multilateral Development Banks?
  • What is the role of the different BRICS members in the institutional design and activities of
  • the NDB?
  • Are these positions compatible with these countries’ political economy and with long-held
  • perspectives embedded in their respective bureaucracies.
  • What explains emerging powers’ decision to embrace or challenge EU and US approaches or
  • to become proactive in proposing new rules through the NDB and AIIB? What is the
  • respective impact of, inter alia:
    • Domestic economic differences in the sectors under study
    • Historical legacies and political culture
    • Learning processes and the development of regulatory capacity?
  • What do these new projects tell us about the enactment of South-South Cooperation?


Full program and participants' list

21 novembre 2016