To reduce free-ridership, the United States should advocate for “pay to play” and accountability mechanisms in international organizations. Encouraging not just China but other large emerging economies to step up to the plate of international problems will be an enduring challenge for the United States and the international community. One approach is to make more institutions follow a model such as in the IMF, where the degree of influence a country enjoys is tied to its willingness to contribute. Of course, institutions also need to represent the interests of the poorest, but that should not be used as an excuse for pivotal powers with capacity, such as China, India, Russia, and Brazil, not to do their share. Further creative thinking is needed about how to define contributions, beyond actual dollars or peacekeepers, and how to measure them.
The United States should also encourage international institutions and member countries to find more ways to hold themselves accountable to their own pledges and promises. The recent efforts by the G-8 and G-20 to review progress on their institutional commitments are a step in the right direction, though a more formalized and rigorous accounting would be welcome. The idea that G-20 countries will also submit their macroeconomic plans to each other in a “peer-review” process is another innovation in accountability. An international “responsibility index” is another possibility. “Pay-to -play” and accountability mechanisms would also help to ensure that the United States gets the international credit it is due for the great deal of money and effort it spends on alleviating international problems.
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