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date: 23 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article focuses on the newer yet increasingly common form of summitry that emerged only in the second half of the twentieth century: ‘institutionalized multilateral summitry’ or, in abbreviated form, simply institutionalized summitry. Institutionalized multilateral summitry is characterized by official meetings of heads of state and government, attended by at least several leaders and generally many more, which convene repeatedly (as opposed to ad hoc, one-off events), and that are underpinned by one or another form of institutionalized bureaucratic structure which facilitates preparation and continuity between leaders’ meetings. The article explores the drivers behind the rise of this institutionalized summitry as it occurs in its various global and regional embodiments. Next, it assesses the strengths and weaknesses of gatherings of political chiefs and their senior ministers: Are summits mere photo-ops for the egos and public relations of leaders, or are they important forums where leaders set strategic directions for global governance? The article also elaborates on the varying degrees of institutionalization exhibited by summits and the key variables that define institutional robustness.

Keywords: summits, institutionalized multilateral summitry, official meetings, heads of state, diplomacy, institutionalization

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