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The Governance Of Globalisation Essay Sample

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The Governance Of Globalisation Essay Sample


The process of globalisation started with advances in transportation technology in the second half of the nineteenth century which resulted in the colonization of countries outside Europe and America. This was the first wave of globalisation which can be said to have ended with the First World War and the Great Depression. The Second World War and the convening of the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944 brought nations together from the ashes of the war to try and build up an international order. The capitalist world under the leadership of the United States of America moved for trade liberalisation and this agenda was accelerated by developments in information technology and communications. The dominant system for world governance in the first wave of globalisation was the colonial domination of the world by European powers (Von Braunmohel, 2005, Chapters 1 – 2), (Strange, 2003), (Kimon, 2000), (Institute for International Economics, 2005) and (Siamwalla, 2004, Pp. 2 – 23).

In the second wave of globalisation, various international agencies were established to loosely oversee the liberalised world economic order. The important international agencies which were established to oversee the global system were the International Monetary Fund or the IMF and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade or GATT. The GATT was later transformed into the World Trade Organisation or the WTO, which is made up of 28 intergovernmental agreements by which member states agree to limit their sovereign right to intervene in international trade. It was hoped that with such agencies, it will be possible to facilitate international trade and manage the international economic system (Von Braunmohel, 2005, Chapters 1 – 2), (Strange, 2003), (Kimon, 2000), (Institute for International Economics, 2005) and (Siamwalla, 2004, pp. 2 – 23).

The WTO today has 144 member states and an additional 30 which are awaiting accession. The benefits that have been provided by the WTO agreements include the liberalisation of international trade, the rule of law, a procedure for the settlement of disputes, cutting of tariffs by the industrialised world and the elimination of the most favoured nation status amongst others. These measures have considerably enhanced the volume of international trade with nearly 25% of the global output being traded. Despite the criticism levied against it, the WTO has been successful in the past 50 years to provide a mechanism to avoid protectionism and trade retaliation, with its Council having authorised retaliation through tariff increases in very few cases. Government trade policies are more stable and predictable and the international trade which is vital for global stability keeps flowing (Von Braunmohel, 2005, Chapters 1 – 2), (Strange, 2003), (Kimon, 2000), (Institute for International Economics, 2005) and (Siamwalla, 2004, Pp. 2 – 23).

The WTO, however, also has its critics and there are demands that the functioning of this organisation be made better. It has been said that there are deficiencies in the legal-institutional framework that govern the relationship between the global regional trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA, the European Union or the EU, the Association of South East Asian Nations or ASEAN and the multilateral trade system. The member states agreed to clarify the WTO rules governing the Regional Trade Agreements or the RTAs in the Doha round of talks. It has been claimed that regionalism consisting of regional trade agreements are a danger to global multilateral trade system because they present preferential trading relationships between countries. Article XXIV of the GATT agreement had made it possible for regional trade agreements to exist without harming the multilateral trading arrangements. However, it has been claimed that Article XXIV has been abused by the member states and substantial trade diversion had been made possible in the European Union or the EU for example (Couso, 2004), (Lovins, 2000), (Freneau, 2001) and (Naidoo, 2003).

Trade liberalisation, which is what WTO is all about, has also meant that the organisation has been attacked in developed countries with high labour costs and by the environmentalists for attempting to open up trade without regard to human standards. The developed world wants to maintain labour standards while the underdeveloped world sees cheap labour and the lower cost of production as its advantages. It has been claimed by all that the major issues of the current debates in the WTO, anti – dumping, labour standards and environmental implications of trade have human and developmental dimensions (Couso, 2004), (Lovins, 2000), (Freneau, 2001) and (Naidoo, 2003).

There have been calls for humanising globalisation and other concerns have been expressed about unequal wealth distribution between the North and the South as well as within countries with the downsizing of the middle class. It has also been stated that trade liberalisation and globalisation has created unwanted interdependencies with system that is incapable of managing these interdependencies. Competition has become global but there are few rules for managing competition. Competition laws, anti-trust legislation, bankruptcy rules, and the like, do not exist on a global level and the enforcement methods are more voluntary (Couso, 2004), (Lovins, 2000), (Freneau, 2001) and (Naidoo, 2003).

The process of globalisation itself has been subjected to a backlash with there being a danger that attempts may be made to reverse globalisation. There are different opinions at work with the Centre – Right globalists calling for free trade, the Centre – Left calling for universal labour and environmental standards and ethical codes while other factions demanding international communism and a global Jihad. Hence, different groups want a different version of the globe. Whereas some regional groups such as the EU may want societal standards, other regional groups just want free trade (Couso, 2004), (Lovins, 2000), (Freneau, 2001) and (Naidoo, 2003).

Critics have wondered if the lethargic national governments in the third world can do more to enhance social justice, equity and the standards of living of their people instead of blaming everything on international governance without making the efforts to take their responsibilities seriously. Hence, there is a need to rethink the governance of globalisation as extending beyond mere trade liberalisation and the International Monitory Fund so that globalisation is better managed with efforts towards a more human face so that the process of globalisation can serve the its broader aims of bringing humanity together. However, before such attempts can be made possible, it will be appropriate to consider just what is wrong with the current process of globalisation and what the various interested actors are demanding. It will then be worth investigating what can be done to reconcile such demands and bring about a better system for global governance (Couso, 2004), (Lovins, 2000), (Freneau, 2001) and (Naidoo, 2003).

It can be said that there is a definite need for enhancements in global governance because there is always a room for improvement and the protests that were seen at the Seattle round of WTO negotiations do indicate there are some shortcomings with the process of globalisation. Such an investigation can be the subject of a dissertation in which the difficulties, conflicting opinions and the enhancements that are possible in the system for global governance presented by various opinions can be investigated along with the workings of the agencies associated with bringing about international order.  There is an abundant body of published literature in which opinions and points of views as well as remedies have been presented about the governance of globalisation and hence, there is no shortage of material for consideration or analysis (Couso, 2004), (Lovins, 2000), (Freneau, 2001) and (Naidoo, 2003).

            In the next section, the methodology of the study will be presented.



The dissertation will make use of a critical review of the related literature on the globalisation of governance and a critique of the possible alternative governance arrangements.  The general theoretical framework that can guide the project is centred on an understanding of the important themes in the literature related to the governance of globalisation. A general theory or framework coupled by the works of many distinguished authors, academics and researchers could be reviewed and conclusions about enhancements may emerge with theoretical or conceptual understandings that may prove to be of use.  The topic of research should be flexible enough to enable new insights to be made possible during the process of investigation. These insights may well provide new insights into the research topic or challenge some of the existing views that may have been held about the process of globalisation (Collins, 2003) and (Marshall, 1999).

Generalisation of situations and settings, understanding of events and why they occur as well as predictions are some of the results of the research process. There is a difference between explanation and understanding that develops as a result of seeing things happen, after reasons have been fitted into patterns and deductions can be made from other known truths. There is a requirement for elements being investigated to be related to other elements and the overall picture forms into a unified model with the unification forming the explanation. Thus, there is an explanation for something when it can be understood. Understanding requires the use of rich descriptions and formation of relationships between different parts (Collins, 2003) and (Marshall, 1999).



Critics of globalisation have lamented that the process of globalisation and the modus operandi of the system of global governance today is exacerbating global inequality and making the rich nations richer at the expense of the poorer nations. It is claimed that the free trade regime which is claimed to be in place is in fact denying market access to poor countries and thus denying the developing countries a chance to take advantage of their most promising sectors. It has been further asserted that there is a spread of environmental degradation, HIV / AIDS, human trafficking, the drug trade and terrorism, which are all enabled by globalisation. Another one of the themes to be found in relation to globalisation is the failure of national governments to take action in the national interest because these governments are the signatories to international agreements which make some sort of global governance possible (Naidoo, 2003) and (Couso, 2004).

It is clear that with increasingly limited ability of national governments to interfere in matters related to international trade, whole ways of life and industries that supported communities are being forced to go through traumatic changes because of economic competition. These communities had become accustomed to their standards of living, conditions of employment and societal standards which are being threatened because the poorer countries of the world want to gain competitive advantage by exploiting their workers to the extent that they never have any future security in their old age and are incapable of producing quality capable of competing (Glasmeier, 2000), (Kumar, 2000), (Damro, 2004) and (Fuchs, 2000).

The countries of the South are all out to compete with cheap labour, reduction in manufacturing costs as a result of a disregard for the environment and with an absolute disregard for their human resources. Or is it that the countries of the North find new ways to introduce added dimensions to complexities of manufacturing and trade just when the South seems to be winning the battle? The multinational corporations have emerged as the new actors which actually make manufacturing decisions, have the required knowledge related to manufacturing and trade as well as funds to invest. These multinational corporations also want liberalisation of trade, as much freedom to do what they want to do and an international structure for direct foreign investments (Glasmeier, 2000), (Kumar, 2000), (Damro, 2004) and (Fuchs, 2000).

In attempts to woo these actors, the governments of the South have gone to extraordinary lengths to dehumanise their people and their environment, but with limited success. Hence, there is a desire on the part of the intelligentsia of the globe to see that the governance of globalisation is tackled with added dimensions that extend beyond the mere reduction of trade barriers to include an enhancement in the quality of human life for all.  Although interested parties have bemoaned the increasing powerlessness of the national governments, perhaps there is a need for a stronger global government which can share the burden of governance with the regional powers, or the national states.  Globalisation has implications which extend to employment, economic welfare and the political capacity of governments as well as sustainable consumption at the regional level (Glasmeier, 2000), (Kumar, 2000), (Damro, 2004) and (Fuchs, 2000).

It is inappropriate to point all blame to the WTO because despite trade liberalisation, governments in many countries of the South could have done much more to make their countries competitive by pursuing a policy of import substitution, for example. However, there has been a tendency on the part of many governments in the South to blame their own incompetence, lack of a desire to act in their national interest and the ability to come up with creative solutions on the WTO and the system of global governance (Glasmeier, 2000), (Kumar, 2000), (Damro, 2004) and (Fuchs, 2000).

The WTO consists of four councils which meet at the WTO headquarters in Geneva. These four councils consist of The GATT or the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the GATS or the General Agreement on Services, the Council for Intellectual Property Protection or TRIPS and the General Council of the WTO. Ambassadors from member countries are members of the councils and a ministerial council meeting is required to be convened once every two years. A Dispute Settlement Body or DSB consisting of members from all member countries approves the work of dispute settlement panels and appellate bodies. Most Favoured Nation or MFN status means that a contracting party treated all other contracting parties equally favourably. GATT was initially for the developed nations and its agenda was driven by the United States and the EU (Glasmeier, 2000), (Kumar, 2000), (Damro, 2004) and (Fuchs, 2000).

When less developed nations joined, they were required to make fewer concessions to join and more then forty countries enjoy the status of an underdeveloped country. These underdeveloped countries enjoy some preferential treatment and other member states are required to exercise restraint when referring these countries to dispute settlement. However, most member countries are now required to accept 95% of the whole package associated with being a member of the WTO. Hence, it is asserted that the power in the WTO belongs to the developed world and the rules can work in the favour of the developed world. The sanction for violating WTO accords is the imposition of duties. However, if an underdeveloped member state was to impose duties on a producer which belongs to the developed world, then such duties are likely to have a negligible impact. The imposition of similar duties by a developed country on a producer belonging to an underdeveloped nation, the impact is likely to be devastating and the WTO has no way available to it to enforce an unfair trade action. It is possible for the WTO to require that non-compliance with WTO rules be punished by all nations (Glasmeier, 2000), (Kumar, 2000), (Damro, 2004) and (Fuchs, 2000).

Another alternative to the imposition of duties can be a requirement for the losses suffered by a nation to be compensated by the nation whose companies are perpetuating the unfair trading practices. However, there has been considerable resistance to such a proposal from WTO members. Hence the WTO mostly deals with trade disputes between two nations and does not deal with the unfair trading practices of all nations and what the WTO can implement as rules has to be acceptable to the developed world as well as a majority of other members (Glasmeier, 2000), (Kumar, 2000), (Damro, 2004) and (Fuchs, 2000).

The question, therefore, that needs to be asked is what can be acceptable to all and can all the member states of the WTO agree on something which will be of real benefit to humanity, globalisation and the world? Since there are very many nations, points of views and interests at stake, therefore, it is not an easy task to reform the WTO or push through an agenda which will be acceptable to all. Due to the global membership of the WTO, the WTO operates and changes its rules by a process of lobbying, political groupings and consensus that is developed amongst member states. Due to the advanced economies of the developed world, it is the developed world which has the ability to develop consensus, alliances and interest groups at the WTO. However, it is worth examining if any of the complaints or issues that are raised by the developing world is legitimate or politicking in their national interests (Glasmeier, 2000), (Kumar, 2000), (Damro, 2004) and (Fuchs, 2000).

 There are many groups at the WTO, such as the Group of 21 developing nations and depending on their interests, these groups can develop alliances with non-government organisations and threaten to block matters which are not in their interest. Hence, a question does arise as to who is going to impose an absolute truth on all these nation members of the WTO and whose truth and interests will be acceptable to all. Industries and even multinational corporations are not members of the WTO and do not have a direct say in its proceedings or value systems. These corporations or industries are required to lobby their governments and get these governments to protect their interests in the WTO. Hence, although the WTO has made considerable progress on trade matters since the inception of the GATT, there is no absolute truth, morality or recipe which is going to be immediately acceptable to the whole (Glasmeier, 2000), (Kumar, 2000), (Damro, 2004) and (Fuchs, 2000).

Global governance also requires that there should be coordinated action amongst member states of the world to solve global problems on a broad front. Apart from the WTO, there are other agencies that assist in the process of global governance including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund or the IMF and the United Nations. Solving problems related to global poverty, inequality of wealth distribution and development is, therefore, not just the responsibility of the WTO and these problems require a multifaceted effort for their resolution. It has taken humanity since the dawn of civilisation to even have reached a stage in its development when there are global forums available for discussion of global issues (Rama, 2003, Chapters 1 – 5) and (Boyd, 2001).

These global institutions, however, are still weak as institutions and depend on the political will of a majority of the member states to take action on global issues. Concerted action of such institutions also depends on the will of the member states to initiate such an action. An alternative approach to global governance must, therefore, appeal to a majority and the recipe should be able to develop a popular political consensus along with a will for action. Such a consensus and will is only possible if the alternative approach to global governance is appealing to at least a majority. Ideas can only be imposed on others if they appeal to the concerned parties or those imposing ideas have the force or the economic clout to be able to impose such ideas. It is because of this that the developed world consisting of the United States and the EU have been able to play a leading role in global governance. However, this does not mean that good ideas cannot be implemented at the agencies involved with global governance. If a national government wants to have an agenda implemented, it starts to build up support for such an agenda amongst its allies and depending on the merit of the ideas or the agenda, sufficient support can be found for its implementation after a process of consideration, debate and thinking. At this point in time, it has been claimed that many developing countries do not even have adequately trained and experienced experts who can initiate an action in the agencies of global governance such as the WTO (Rama, 2003, Chapters 1 – 5) and (Boyd, 2001).

Reforming the WTO can, therefore, include attempts towards initiating internal democratisation, with a greater inclusion of all states in decision making and transparency in negotiating agreements, external democratisation involving the right of those people who will be influenced by the decisions of the WTO to have their say in its decisions, presumably through their national governments which should attempt to educate their people about global governance and seek important consensus and inputs at the national level. Other arenas of reform can include attempts to enhance efficiency, coordination and greater collaboration with other agencies involved in global governance so that concerted action is possible. A fourth area of reform which can be attempted is one of introducing additional issues of interest which can influence global governance. However, it has to be realised that any alternative approaches for global governance can and do get discussed in the existing global forums. It is important to have the forum otherwise no discussion whatsoever is possible. A dissertation in which an in depth study of the problems and possible enhancements in the system of global governance is investigated is, therefore, likely to be feasible, interesting and useful (IMF, 2001), (Lehman, 2001), (Kimon, 2000), and (Bausch, 2002, Chapters 1 – 5).



            Governments in all corners of the world make authoritative decisions that allocate public resources, define relationships between state and society, regulate interaction among citizens and institutions, and act on behalf of the nation in international contexts.  In the third world, where social needs are great, economic development are frequently elusive, and the role of the state is often extensive, these authoritative decisions take on added importance in terms of the costs and benefits they can impose on whole societies and particular groups within them.  Policy has a profound impact on the social, political, and economic destinies of millions of people in the third world.

            Policy elites are defined as those formally charged with making authoritative decisions in government.  These policy elites have considerable scope to identify problems, articulate goals, define solutions, and think strategically about their implementation.  There are two theoretical perspectives that may be employed to analyse issues concerning the policy elites are important actors in the initiation and pursuit of policy change.  These perspectives are the society-centred perspectives and the state-centred perspectives.

            Social, economic and technological change has rendered classical social democracy as obsolete.  The book The Third Way (1998), five dilemmas are identified – the transformation brought about by globalisation, the challenge posed by the new individualism, the weakening of the distinction between left and right, the question of the scope for political agency on the part of the parties and the state, and the need to respond to ecological issues (Cammack, 2004, p. 2).

The book addresses the relationship between state and civil society, and the role of the state in the domestic and global arenas.  It represents an honest effort to fashion a new social democratic agenda for the 21st century.  The new approach would develop a policy framework to respond to change in the global order while the old approach resisted that change.  There is a new to manage that change in order to produce social solidarity and prosperity.  Giddens’ work has been criticised for not offering a social democratic alternative to neoliberalism but to legitimise neoliberal policies by clothing them in the vocabulary of social democracy (Cammack, 2004, p. 3).

            Three components of socialism are identified: 1) a critique of individualism; 2) a critique of capitalism; and 3) en economic programme designed to humanise or overthrow capitalism.  The economic program is exclusively identified with the former Soviet Union in The Third way since the failure of the Soviet Union is presented as the failure of socialism for all time.  Socialism seeks to confront the limitations of capitalism in order to humanise it or to overthrow it altogether.  The economic theory of socialism depends upon the idea that, left to its own devices, capitalism is economically inefficient, socially divisive and unable to reproduce itself in the long term.  The notion that capitalism can be humanised through socialist economic management gives socialism whatever hard edge it possesses, even if there have been many different accounts of how such a goal might be achieved.  The failure of Soviet Union disposes of the idea that capitalism can be either humanised or overthrown.  In other words, the failure of the Soviet Union disposes of the shortcomings and critique of capitalism (Cammack, 2004, p. 3).

            Karl Marx, as one of the first analysis of globalisation, was one of the first strategists of working-class internationalism, who responded to capitalist globalisation.  According to his analysis, there are two major elements governing such internationalism: 1) the critique of international exploitation;   and 2) the development of a working-class movement that was both national and international in its organization (Foster, 2000).

It has often been assumed that Marx believed that capitalism’s colonial penetration of the global periphery operated as a purely progressive force, which would result in economic and social development in these countries along lines already pioneered by the countries at the centre of the capitalist world system. Marx was of the opinion that social formations in certain parts of the world had taken on stagnant forms that blocked further development—one of the main implications of his concept of the “Asiatic mode of production.” The external penetration of capitalism into such countries could therefore serve to break this stagnation and to provide the initial material prerequisites for a wider development.   However, Marx also argued that such capitalist penetration was providing the bare material preconditions, which, when coupled with social revolution, opened the way to historical advance (Foster, 2000).

            Marx was concerned with the role of international exploitation in creating a permanent structural relation of dependency of poor nations on rich nations—and the effect of this on working-class internationalism. According to Marx (Foster, 2000), Ireland was sending its surplus—derived largely from agricultural production—over to England, where it was used to expand industrial production.  To Marx, a nation that enslaves another forges its own chains, such as the case of India and England (Foster, 2000).

            In present times, we often learn that these circumstances as analysed by Marx, though unfortunate, are results of the unfolding process of globalisation and has nothing to do with the international exploitation of one nation by another.  Rather, we are told that it is simply a human tragedy arising from original underdevelopment coupled with overpopulation and lack of rational, Western institutions of government. Those states that try to treat it as an economic problem to be addressed through controls on the movement of capital are told that they are kicking a gift horse – capital – in the mouth. Furthermore, such attempts by states to intervene in the market are seen as ultimately useless and even self-defeating.  Thus, it bears stressing that an important part of the ideology of globalisation is that nation-states are no longer significant in the organisation of economic relations, that they have been bypassed by global forces.  It is presumed that, state intervention in the global market actually makes things worse rather than better.  This argument can be criticized for ignoring the fact that states frequently intervene on behalf of capital itself (Foster, 2000).

            Yet if states exist within the framework of the world market, and within the framework of a system of states (if we are to follow Marx’s teachings), then this system of states is necessary in order to construct and maintain the capitalist world market and cannot be dispensed with if the world market is to function smoothly.  However, the converse is not true. The system of states can dispense with the exploitative framework of the world market system, insofar as class struggles from below serve to transform these states themselves. At no time, then, is the struggle over the state irrelevant to the larger global political-economic reality of imperialism (Foster, 2000).

            Marx’s analysis suggests that capitalist globalization was not an historical endpoint but an ongoing process of development that would almost surely lead to its own undoing, producing its own antithesis in the form of working-class internationalism  (Foster, 2000).

            Capitalism has been viewed as one of the factors that brought forth the phenomena of global governance.  The term itself engenders either hope or fear among people.  The American media tycoon, Ted Turner, views global governance as a new opportunity for peace and prosperity around the world, whereas others perceive it as loss of individual freedom, property rights, national sovereignty and inescapable oppression. (Eco*logic, 1997).  These conceptions of global governance and its impact on nations can be largely attributed to the fact that few people truly understand what global governance means.

            Global governance differs greatly from previous attempts to establish a world government.  There is no military force behind a goal of world domination similar to Adolf Hitler’s, neither is there a League of Nations involved.  Global governance refers to political interaction among nations aimed at solving problems that affect more than one state or region when there is no power to enforce compliance (Wikipedia, 2006a; Eco*logic, 1997).

Global governance is not synonymous to the concept of world government.  It does not require the submission or surrender of sovereignty.  Neither should global governance be strictly economic.  It should focus not only on trade and finance treaties but on agreements that address social, environment, and human rights issues as well.   To humanise the evolving system of global governance requires identifying not only the roles of international bureaucracies in shaping, implementing and enforcing global policies, but also to always keep in mind the core values that make up the very foundation of global governance.

            Global governance differs from the concept of world government as the latter pertains to the concept of a political body that would make, interpret and enforce international law.   That nation-states would be required to surrender their sovereignty over some areas to a single global government is inherent to the concept of world government.  It effect requires the addition of another level of administration above the existing national governments or to provide coordination over areas wherein national governments are not capable of adequately addressing as independent bodies (Wikipedia, 2006b).

            Global governance is more similar in nature to internationalism rather than the concept of world government.  Internationalism pertains to the political movement which advocates economic and political cooperation between nations for the benefit of all.  The concept of internationalism, similar to global governance, is premised on the belief that nation-states needs to cooperate since their long-term mutual interests are of greater value than their individual short-term needs.   However, by its nature, internationalism is opposed to strictly economic globalisation movements which deny the value of other nations’ culture and differences.   The concept of internationalism recognizes that other nations as equal in spite of all their differences (Wikipedia, 2006c).

            The term global governance has been traditionally associated with political authority, institutions, and ultimate control.  In this sense, the concept of global governance denotes formal political institutions coordinating and controlling interdependent social relations with the ability to enforce decisions (Wikipedia, 2006a).  On the other hand, the concept of global governance has also been described as regulating interdependent relations among political institutions without an overachieving political authority, such as in the international system (Rosenau, 1999).

            Simply put, global governance can be defined as the management of global processes in the absence of a global government (Wikipedia, 2006a).   It involves the “collective efforts to identify, understand, or address worldwide problems that go beyond the capacity of individual states to solve” (Weiss and Thakur, 1996).

            “Global governance” is a descriptive term and may be formal or informal.  It is informal when it takes the shape of laws or formally constituted institutions to manage collective affairs by a variety of actors, such as state authorities, intergovernmental organisations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), private sector entities, and other civil society actors.  It may be informal when it takes the shape of practices, customs, or guidelines, or it may even involve temporary units as in the case of coalitions (Wikipedia, 2006a).

The term has been said to have been constructed by a small number of people who have developed a strategy and structure to achieve objectives that have been pursued for centuries (Wikipedia, 2006a; Eco*logic, 1997).  This strategy evolved in secrecy among individuals and organisations, most from Western nations, that are now readily identifiable.  There are no “conspiracy theories” involved as advanced in the past since these theories and strategies are no all put to rest by publication of countless official United Nations documents which lay bare the argument for global governance, and the plans and strategies to achieve it (Eco*logic, 1997).

            Thus, the quest for global governance should not be equated to world domination or world government.  Global governance and world government are not synonymous terms.  Neither is the concept of global governance equated with democratic globalisations.   In fact, the existence of a world government would make global governance unnecessary since domestic governments would have legitimate monopolies on the use of force – the power of enforcement.   In the absence of an international analogue to a domestic government, a system called a “disaggregated sovereignty” becomes necessary in order to allow a network of actors to deal with problems that cross borders and nations (Wikipedia, 2006a).

There are existing regional unions of nations which best exemplify global governance at work.  The most relevant model is the European Union which politically unites a large group of widely diverse (some even formerly hostile) nations spread over a large geographical area.  The EU has open internal borders, a directly elected parliament, a court system, and a centralized economic policy.  Although still evolving, the EU set-up can be described as a microcosm of global governance on a worldwide scale, if effective at a worldwide level.  Other models that have followed the example set by EU are the African Union, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the South American Community of Nations, and countless regional associations aggregating most nations of the world.   These other models are at varying stages of development towards a growing extent of economic, and in some cases political, integration (Wikipedia, 2006b).

            In the current global governance system, the UN can be best described as the primary formal organization coordinating activities between states on a global scale.  It is the only inter-governmental organization which has a truly universal membership, what with 192 governments under its umbrella.  The UN itself has about 20 functional organizations affiliated with its Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), in additional to the main organs and various humanitarian programs and commissions of the UN itself.  These other affiliated organizations include the World Health Organization, the International Labor Organization, the International Telecommunication Union, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization (Wikipedia, 2006b).

            The UN dabbles in the arena of international law which includes international treaties, customs, and globally accepted legal principles.  These laws are interpreted by domestic courts of nation-states, with the exceptions of cases which are actually brought under the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) or the International Criminal Court (ICC).  The ICJ, or the World Court, is the judiciary organ of the UN, and its task is to settle disputes submitted to it voluntarily by states and to give advisory opinions on legal questions submitted to it by other organs of the UN, like the General Assembly or Security Council.  The ICC, on the other hand, is the first ever permanent international criminal court which has the task of ensuring that the gravest international crimes do not go unpunished (Wikipedia, 2006b).

            Aside from formal international organizations (like the UN) and international laws, many other mechanisms act to regulate human activities across national borders.  Globalisation has, after all, been more popularly characterized as influencing international trade in goods, services and currencies which in turn have huge impact on the lives of individuals in almost all corners of the world, thereby creating interdependency among nation-states (Wikipedia, 2006b).

            It has been widely held that the primary objective behind global governance is to provide security for all people of the world.  UN policy documents assert that all people have a right to security, a clean and healthy environment, and to be free from intolerance and discrimination.  However, these rights, as granted by government, come with certain responsibilities to behave as the government dictates.  The result thus is a managed society.  People, especially in underdeveloped nations or from nations with a flimsy grasp of the concept, tend to look forward to the concept of global governance in order to avail of the security of food and shelter which they perceive the concept involves (Eco*logic, 1997).

The concept of global governance aspires to provide security from threat of war, environmental degradation to every person on earth, as well as security from the injustice of poverty, intolerance, and disease.  These are lofty aspirations indeed, coupled with the central theme of global governance which is the concept of sustainable development.   “Sustainable development” in turn can be described as the integration of economic activity with social justice and environmental protection (Eco*logic, 1997).

            Organizations and individuals who lobby for or pursue such aspirations and objectives need not risk rejection of their policies by elected bodies of governments, nor do they need military force.   Public policies may then be made without the need for armies or elected bodies of government.  This is why the threats attached to the concept of global governance lie in both the policies and the process by which these policies are implemented.   For instance, it has been criticised that the policies of the United Nations are nothing more than the policies of NGOs that drive the UN agenda.   The UN has often been used as a mechanism through which these policies are given official status, through the passage of international treaties or “soft law” documents such as Agenda 21, the UN Declaration on Human Rights, the Earth Charter, and numerous “Plans of Actions” adopted by countless UN conferences, commissions, and working groups (Eco*logic, 1997).

The first principle involved in global governance is the centralisation of power while claiming to decentralise power.  This is achieved by developing global social policies.  Centralisation of power to enforce global policies however is not yet fully developed.  The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the most significant organisation in taking steps towards concentrating enforcement power in the UN.  The WTO has the power to enforce trade sanctions against nations and against individual industries within nations.  The WTO Charter also implies power to enforce environmental treaties (Eco*logic, 1997).

            The creation of enforcement mechanisms has been necessary to enforce transnational rules and global social policies.  One such mechanism that was created is the International Criminal Court which is supported by a panel of prosecutors who are authorised to investigate within sovereign borders of any member nation without interference from national or domestic governments.  Another mechanism is the continuous disarmament negotiations which aim to place control of the manufacture and distribution of all munitions under the authority of the UN (Eco*logic, 1997).

            Establishing global social policies and laying down mechanisms to enforce them involves the processes of transnational rule-making.  These processes were evaluated in a working paper by Klaus Dingwerth (2004) for the Global Governance Project, 2004, a joint project between the  Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Environmental Policy Research Centre of the Free University of Berlin, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and Oldenburg University.  If rules are consciously devised and pertain to relatively specific commands for behavior whose normative authority is such that a certain level of compliance can reasonably be expected, then transnational rule-making can be conceived of as the making of such rules in which at least one of the negotiation parties is a non-state actor (Dingwerth, 2004, p. 9).

            Transnational rule-making is deemed empirically linked to the proliferation of transnational policy networks, multi-stakeholder processes, expert commissions, and public-private partnerships, which all do not easily fit into the traditional pattern of world politics or exclusively state-centric activity.  Examples of transnational rule-making in world politics would include the guidelines of the World Commission on Dames, certification schemes of the Forest Stewardship Council, and the ISO 14000 standards on environmental management.  These new mechanisms of global rule-making have been extensively examined in relation to their democratic legitimacy.

Such an examination, according to Dingwerth (2004), is relevant for two reasons: 1) norms of soft law may serve as the foundation for subsequent efforts to create binding international rules; and 2) transnational rules can have a direct impact on the expectations and behaviours of actors.  This is particularly true for areas where no clear international rules exists and where, as a consequence of this lack of alternative rules, transnational rule-making processes can establish their results as new formative frames of reference and alternative discourses (Dingwerth, 2004, pp. 9-10).

            The concepts of democratic legitimacy and democratic governance have been popular in the discussion of global governance or governance beyond the state.   Dingwerth’s research is critical in relation to his analysis of context-specific differences: how much participation, control, and deliberation does transnational rule-making require from its actors?   Dingwerth (2004) provides for four potential justifications (pp. 28-30):

  • Decision-making processes may be distinguished by reference to their sources of authorization. There is then a distinction between explicit authorization by national or international law; and implicit authorization when states do not explicit object to the rule-making efforts of other actors.  Ex post recognition by an authorisation body and self-authorisation are also distinguished.  In short, that there is no international body that may authorize the delegation of rule-making authority with the same degree of legitimacy as in national political systems is an important element that should be kept in mind in the quest for global governance.

  • The second justification is the level to which citizens are affected by a subject matter. The need for participation, control, and deliberation may be said to depend on the extent to which a decision directly affects the lives of citizens subject to a decision.    A context-sensitive threshold would have to be in place to determine the degree of affectedness that validates a claim to participation or control that affects the lives of different individuals and groups.

  • The quality of a rule may justify different degrees of participation, control or deliberativeness. There is a distinction between decisions about rules for a specific area of policy-making and decisions about “constitutional” rules.   The limits imposed by public reason do not apply to all political questions, but only to those involving what may be called essential or fundamental rights pertaining to basic justice.   The scope of a transnational rule’s application – whether it applies only to the parties who negotiated it or whether it also generates force beyond this circle – can be called upon to further distinguish between different qualities of rules.

  • The fourth justification is the degree to which a global rule is seen as necessary to justify different degrees of participation, control, or discursive quality. This distinction is closely related to the concept of subsidiarity which is the idea that decisions are best taken at the lowest policy level at which a given problem may be effectively addressed (Dingwerth, 2004, pp. 28-30).

Dingwerth’s fourth justification for the degree of control, participation and deliberation required in transnational rule-making is particularly important since it includes questions such as “Is a transnational or global rule necessary for a global issue?” and “Which interests in a transnational or global rule exist?”  Both questions are related to the more general question around which the elements of global governance revolve: “When is a problem a global problem?”  (Dingwerth, 2004).

            Generally, improving global problem-solving need not involve the creation of more powerful formal global institutions. It may however involve  creating consensus on norms and practices. The creation and improvement of accountability mechanisms is one such example, such as the way the UN Global Compact rings together companies, UN agencies, labour organisations and civil society to support universal environmental and social principles (Wikipedia, 2006a).

Participation in the UN Global Compact is completely voluntary, and there is no enforcement of the principles by an outside regulatory body.  Companies and participants to this Global Compact adhere to its practices and principles because they may economic sense and because stakeholders, particularly shareholders, can monitor their compliance easily.  Mechanisms such as the Global Compact provide for an example on how global policies, in addressing global problems, need not be in through formal global institutions with enforcement machineries (Wikipedia, 2006a).

            To “humanise” global governance thus, requires certain guidelines to consider when making transnational rules that will affect not simply member states to a UN charter, for instance, but non-parties to the negotiations as well when such rules pertain to global social policies.  Dingwerth (2004) in his study provides for the following relevant guidelines to consider in evaluating actual rule-making processes beyond the state (pp. 30-31):

  • Scope of participation: How are the relevant constituencies identified and defined, and how are the participants determined and selected? Which alternatives would have been available? And how convincing is the actual choice in the light of these alternatives?

  • Quality of participation: How do those who are included in the decision-making process participate? Are there different qualities of participation and, if so, to what extent have constituencies access to the various modes of participation? Is representation a primary element of participation and, if so, who represents whom in what ways?

  • Democratic accountability: Which effective mechanisms of accountability exist in a given decision-making structure? Which groups have a valid claim to hold decision-makers to account? And which opportunities do these groups have to access existing control mechanisms?

  • Transparency: What information about the existence, structure, content and current status of the decision-making process is available to the public? How and at which costs can those who may be significantly affected by a collective decision inform themselves about the decision-making process? Which barriers to accessing, collecting, and disseminating information about the decision-making process exist?

  • Deliberativeness: To what extent does a given decision-making process include deliberative elements and which role do arguments play in the decision-making process? To what extent do deliberations include a broader public, that is, to what extent do they reach beyond elite negotiations? Which role does power play within the deliberative process? How do participants approach deliberations?

  • Discursive balance: What are the qualities of the dominant discourse or discourses that exist in the issue area in which the decision-making process is situated and how do they affect the decision-making process? Which role do alternative discourses play?”  (Dingwerth, 2004, pp. 30-31).

In another working paper, for the same Global Governance Project, 2004, between the  Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Environmental Policy Research Centre of the Free University of Berlin, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and Oldenburg University, the influences of international bureaucracies were examined.   The authors, Biermann and Bauer (2005) analysed the influences of international bureaucracies on world politics.   International bureaucracies were defined as “agencies that have been set-up by national governments or other public actors with some degree of permanence and coherence and beyond formal direct control of single national governments – notwithstanding control by multilateral mechanisms through the collective of governments – and that act in the international arena to pursue a policy. Their capacity to act lies in their administrative apparatus, generally a hierarchically organized group of international civil servants with a given mandate and resources within the context of a policy area” (Biermann and Bauer, 2005, p. 10).

International bureaucracies include the defunct League of Nations, the UN, the International Labour Organisation, and non-state actors such as Amnesty International.  These international bureaucracies assist in generating the knowledge base for regime creation and development, facilitating continuing negotiations, and assist in regime implementation by building up capacities in member states (Biermann and Bauer, 2005).

According to the study, international bureaucracies affect global governance in their roles as: 1) knowledge-brokers; 2) negotiation-facilitators; and 3) capacity-builders.

As knowledge-brokers, international bureaucracies set the global agenda.  Within the context of global governance, these bureaucracies influence the behaviour of political actors by changing their knowledge and belief systems. For instance, many international bureaucracies are directly involved in the funding and administration of original research. Others synthesize scientific findings and distribute knowledge to stakeholders, from national governments to individual citizens. All these activities can influence international political processes. Usually, bureaucracies are active in all three stages of knowledge generation, knowledge synthesizing and knowledge dissemination (Biermann and Bauer, 2005).

A more concrete example of the role of international bureaucracies as knowledge-brokers is the case of the international response to global warming.  In the late 1980s, lack of knowledge and uncertainty as the reality and impact of global warming kept governments from taking action.   Knowledge and information were either non-existent or subject to much debate among experts.   In this setting, bureaucrats from World Meteorological Organization and the UN Environment Programme initiated and organised the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  This network included  23,000 leading climate experts from all over the world and offered a series of consensus documents on the state of knowledge and on possible political response strategies (Biermann and Bauer, 2005).

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change did not generate new knowledge on global warming, but through its system of peer review and of geographic balancing in this peer review, it did succeed in establishing the necessary credibility and legitimacy for the existing knowledge.   What the Panel achieved was something beyond the scope of individual states that would inevitably been seen as partisan in their assessment. It was again international bureaucracies – in particular, the UN Environment Programme and the secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change – that took the lead in disseminating knowledge through web sites, brochures, information packages and workshops all over the world, particularly in developing countries (Biermann and Bauer, 2005).

A review of related literature will show that such international agencies or bureaucracies have a significant impact on the creation and effectiveness of regimes.   The existence of informal networks of experts have been held to contribute to regime effectiveness by strengthening the knowledge base on which regimes can be designed and operate, and that the deeper it penetrates national decision-making processes, the more effective the regime tends to be.  Implementation and compliance became more likely with increases in the flow of scientific and technical information about targeted activities ff the information is in a form that is understood by governments and public pressure groups (Biermann and Bauer, 2005).

As negotiation-facilitators, international bureaucracies are influential in shaping global cooperation.  They influence world politics through the creation, support and shaping of norm-building processes for issue-specific international cooperation. International bureaucracies influence international norm-setting procedures both in its early stages, as when through the initiation of diplomatic conferences at which international treaties in support of certain policies are negotiated and signed. This can be seen, for instance, in the role the UN Environment Programme played in  organizing the first conferences on negotiating a treaty to phase out chemicals that deplete the stratospheric ozone layer, an issue that has, at that time, not found much support among most governments (Downie, 1995).

International bureaucracies are also crucial in the later phase of the dynamic implementation and revision of treaties (Beach, 2004). This is in particular the role of the staff of treaty secretariats, who organize meetings, set agendas, and write reports to the conferences of the parties. Secretariats are of course accountable to governments which are deemed the final creators of treaty evolution. However, by various forms of informal influences international bureaucracies are hardly passive to governmental initiative, but are influential in their own right. Studies have shown that international bureaucrats can exercise considerable influence in international negotiations even when they are not key players during the negotiation stage. In other words, international bureaucracies such as the UN and ILO are thus crucial actors through the shaping of procedures and the provision of distinct arenas for issue-specific negotiations, and through framing inter- and transnational processes of bargaining and arguing.

Again, the UN Environment Programme provides for a concrete example of the role of an international bureaucracy as negotiation-facilitators.   Its Regional Seas Programme, which was originally conceptualized in 1974, was meant to address marine pollution in the Mediterranean Sea, but eventually led to a series of legally binding international agreements providing for a contractual environment for more than 130 states and some fifty international agencies today. The argumentative force of the UN Environment Programme, which insisted on the urgency of protecting regional seas, was highly influential in initiating and shaping treaty negotiations in various other states and regions.  This programme is an example on how even small bureaucracies such as UNEP play an important and influential role not only in laying down global policies, but in promoting international cooperation (Biermann and Bauer, 2005).

The third role that international bureaucracies play in global governance is that of capacity-builders.  They exert significant influence on world politics in making international cooperation work through the direct assistance to countries in their efforts to implement international agreements which in turn reshapes national interests.   Administrative capacity at the national level is a crucial factor in explaining differences among the performances of countries in implementing international agreements.  Countries with stronger administrative capacities are in a better position to implement international environmental standards.  International bureaucracies in this case help to raise he administrative capacity in many countries, especially in the developing world.  (Biermann and Bauer, 2005).

By way of example, the global problem on the emission of substances that deplete the stratospheric ozone layer was addressed through the initiatives of three international bureaucracies that organized an international campaign to install in each capital in the developing world a so-called “ozone unit”.  These were small administrative offices linked to the national environment ministry with staff trained and financed by these international bureaucracies to draft and implement national programs on the phasing out of ozone-depleting substances. Even though states and nations themselves paid for these programs, it was the staff of the international bureaucracies that developed and shaped the programs.  This set the stage for the emission-control programs in more than one hundred countries (Biermann and Bauer, 2005).

The study points out that the organization, initiation and management of capacity-building are not restricted to major international agencies, such as the UN or World Bank. It is also a role that many smaller international bureaucracies take on even when capacity building are not formally within their main function. One example is the joint Sustainable Cities Programme of the UN Environment Programme and the UN Human Settlements Programme (Habitat). The program was set up to strengthen the capacity of local authorities in developing countries to implement global programs on sustainable development. Even without large external funding, the program has increased capacities in participating cities through the provision and continuous refinement of a set of planning, management and monitoring tools for municipal administration provided for by these international bureaucracies (Biermann and Bauer, 2005).

The influence of international bureaucracies is not limited to financial or technical assistance since capacity-building is beyond these two forms of assistance.   International bureaucracies are also influential as diffusion-agents of national policies or technologies.  For instance, once policies in one country have been identified as useful to reach certain policy targets, they can be spread to other countries through an international bureaucracy.  Most of the work of World Bank, the UN Industrial Development Organization, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and its research and publication program, fall under this category (Biermann and Bauer, 2005).

Biermann and Bauer (2005) point out that the three functions of international bureaucracies (as knowledge-brokers, negotiation-facilitators and capacity-builders) are interlinked.   By way of example, the UN Environment Programme has improved the contractual environment in various issue areas by promoting international environmental law, which has led to substantial building of legal capacities in developing countries. The basis for this is the program’s worldwide networking activities in monitoring and assessing global environmental change. This links awareness raising and capacity-building (Biermann and Bauer, 2005).

Humanising Global Governance

            International interdependence, as one of the opportunities offered by global governance, can open up a world of possibilities to all members of humankind.  Global governance presents great opportunities, as well as obstacles, to the improvement of human condition (Streeten, 2005).  The challenge therein is to look beyond global governance as involving merely trade liberalisation and the International Monitory Fund so that globalisation is better managed with efforts towards a more human face.

            What it all boils down to is that global governance, in examining the need for institutional reforms, should always consider the impact on the lives of individual human beings, their families, their neighbourhoods, and their communities (Streeten, 2005).

This century’s most influential economist, John Maynard Keynes, despite showing little interest in development studies and developing countries, has shown an imaginative treatment of international issues which has important implications for the poor people living in the developing countries.   Humanising global governance, according to Keynes, involves the need to stabilise the prices of primary products, the need to put pressure on surplus countries as well as deficit countries; the need to move towards a world currency; and the need for surveillance and coordination of international economic policies (Streeten, 2005).

According to Keynes (2005), the deflationary pressures on the world economy generated by countries amassing large current account surpluses in their balances of payments. The deficit countries have to restrict demand, production and employment, and there is no corresponding pressure on the surplus countries to expand activity or to lend or invest abroad. In conditions of underemployment or full employment, the surplus countries are the enemies of the global economy, because they export unemployment to the rest of the world. The deficit countries are benefactors, because they export employment. The economic dynamism of countries like the US and Japan, as reflected in their export surpluses, can spell suffering for others, unless these surpluses are converted into long-term loans or investments on acceptable terms, or into grants (Streeten, 2005).

However, as reiterated earlier, global governance must move beyond trade liberalization and advancements in the global economy.  There is a need for a global order which focuses on the roles of individuals, their rights and obligations, which are partly defined by their communities. The family is deemed as the closest community, followed by the neighbourhood/town/city/village wherein they reside, then the province/region, and then the nation or state.  Beyond that lies the world community. Within a state’s community, there are many actors that form the basis of civil society – political and religious institutions, professional organisations, voluntary associations, interest groups – which in turn affect the rights and obligations of the people (Streeten, 2005).

According to a study by Streeten (2005), common interests and conflicts are running today across national boundaries, with the present system showing gains to uncoordinated action by individual states as they react to global issues in their own ways.   Unfortunately, global issues cannot be addressed by one nation alone.   These  ultimately self-damaging and possibly self-destructive actions of states can be avoided, in the absence of self-restraint, only by either a dominant world power imposing the restraints, or by cooperation, or by delegation of some powers to a transnational authority, with the power to enforce restraint (Streeten, 2005).

To avoid this dilemma, Streeten (2005) provides that coordination, delegation and enforcement of policies are needed. They are needed not in order to impose an external will on unwilling subjects, but in order to realise the objectives of the states themselves, not pursued by counter-productive actions.  Streeten (2005) points out that coordination means that each country has to do things it does not want to do.  For instance, the United States may want to balance its budget in order to lower world interest rates but it does not want to raise taxes; Germany has to grow faster, but she does not want to attract guest workers from Turkey and Yugoslavia; Japan should import more, but she does not want to hurt her domestic industries. According to Jagdish Bhagwati sovereignty is like virginity: once you engage in intercourse with the outside world you have lost it (Streeten, 2005; Singer, 1989).

Taking on the point of view of human development in relation to global governance will show that the principle of “one state, one vote” as set forth by the UN General Assembly (though its resolutions have only recommendatory power) then cannot be justified. Respect for persons applies to equality of status enjoyed by individuals within a nation, but not to corporate entities such as states. However, in the UN context, it could be said that the voting rights in the Assembly compensate for the gross economic inequality manifested in international trade, as well as for the military inequality recognised in the great powers’ permanent membership and veto power in the Security Council, which in turn can reach decisions with binding force. It should also be noted that the large and growing majority of the world’s people live in the developing countries. But a further justification for voting by states lies in the overriding importance of avoiding war, keeping in mind that the state is the institution with a monopoly of force. However, considerations of law and order in international relations have to be tempered by those of social justice (Streeten, 2005).

            The UN and other similar international bureaucracies have been much criticized for being obstacles to reform.  Yet even the best institutions cannot work if they are not supported by political power. In the final analysis the past defects of the UN agencies were not the result of institutional inadequacies, overlaps here and gaps there, of low-level representation at important meetings, of lack of coordination, or managerial flaws, but of lack of commitment by member governments (Streeten, 2005).

            State sovereignty, which is predicted to dominate world order, is inadequate and potentially dangerous.   The predominant threat to stability is perceived to be the conflict within countries and not between them. Thus, there is an urgent need to strengthen international human rights law. Many of the most destabilising troubles that affect or violate global policies come from within states themselves, through because of ethnic strife or repressive measures by governments. It is potentially dangerous since circumstances that lead to tyranny in the domestic state may sooner or later spill over into search for enemies abroad. One example is the Soviet’s invasion of Hungary and Czechoslovakia, the South Africans in Angola and Mozambique, and Iraq in Kuwait. Prevention of aggression should thus be a priority in global governance (Streeten, 2005).

             There is also a need for institutional innovation.   There are certain international institutions, not as world-renowned as the others, but who continue to carry out their respective tasks and responsibilities in a quietly effective manner.  Some of these institutions are the Universal Postal Union (founded in 1875, whose task it is to perfect postal services and to promote international collaboration), the International Telecommunication Union, the World Meteorological Association, the International Civil Aviation Organisation and the World Intellectual Property Organisation.  These organisations have clearly and narrowly defined technical mandates, and are non-politicised, and implement their tasks competently. Their success is due largely to their covering technical issues well within their expertise and coverage  (Streeten, 2005).  The need to focus and narrow down an institution’s mandates thus may contribute greatly to their efficiency.

            By way of contrast, other international institutions have worked less well, among them the united Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). Their mandates were broad and overlapped with those of other organizations. Perceptions about the future, about objectives, and about which policies had which results differed, and the debates in their counsels brought in much political controversies. It is from these negative experiences that some have drawn the conclusion that international cooperation is unnecessary and undesirable (Streeten, 2005).

            International coordination or cooperation can take different forms: 1) There can be full harmonisation of policies, such as the adoption of common standards, for example the metric system; 2) It can mean joint expenditures for a common purpose, such as on international air traffic control; 3) It may involve submitting to agreed rules; 4) It can amount to the continual exchange of information, such as that on illegal capital flight or on matters of public health; 4) Or, as in the case of macro-economic co-ordination, it can involve joint decision-making on monetary, fiscal, trade and exchange rate policy (Streeten, 2005).

            Institutional innovation as proposed here is not intended to add more international bureaucrats to existing organizations.   The concern is for improvement of procedures, rules, norms, many of which can be adopted by existing organisations. More coordination of functions is not necessarily involved. Some of these innovations can take a regional form, others should be global (Streeten, 2005).

            Streeten’s (2005) study also recommends an international investment trust to assist in humanizing global governance.   This trust could issue bonds, and perhaps other assets, to central banks and perhaps other financial institutions. These would be multilaterally guaranteed against devaluation and perhaps indexed against inflation. According to Streeten (2005), this strategy may be helpful because unless the reduction in the US current account deficit is accompanied by increased loan demand elsewhere (or by domestic expansion in Japan and Germany), the world economy is threatened with growing deflation and unprecedented unemployment. Streeten (2005) provides that recycling to credit-worthy developing countries through the proposed International Investment Trust could be a sensible alternative. The rate of return on assets acquired from the Trust by lenders would be lower than that on US Treasury bonds, but it would be safer (threatened neither by inflation nor devaluation), and this should make it attractive to the lenders. The loans would be on commercial terms, to the newly industrialising countries. It would be desirable, though not an essential feature of the scheme, to graft an interest rate subsidy onto it, so that loans could also be made to the poorer countries (Streeten, 2005).

            The question then is why haven’t existing institutions, such as the World Bank or the regional development banks undertaken the task of providing for an International Investment Trust as recommended by Streeten (2005)? In principle they could, and this would be better than global deflation. But some competition in lending procedures, an invitation to experiment with alternative lending styles, and some limits to the size and monopoly power of lending institutions are hindrances to this task (Streeten, 2005).

            To further humanise global governance should necessitate revisiting the principles laid down by the UN Commission on Global Governance.  These principles embody the beliefs that should form the foundations or pillars, and core values behind global governance which we tend to overlook by focusing too much on trade and financial treaties.

            The basic foundation for global governance is the belief that the world is now ready for a global civic ethic which is based on a set of core values intended to unite people from all walks of life, regardless of cultural, political, religious, or philosophical background.  This belief is further supported by the ideology that governance should be underpinned by democracy at all levels and by the rule of enforceable law.   The Report of the Commission on Global Governance (1996) further provides that all humanity should uphold the core values of respect for life, liberty, justice and equity, mutual respect, caring and integrity (Lamb, 1996).

            Respect for life, as the first core value, should be understood to mean equal respect for all life.   This is not limited to human life alone.   This should be consistent with the biocentric view that all life has equal intrinsic value, thus plant life, animals, and the like should be afforded the same kind of respect extended to human life (Lamb, 1996).

            Respect for liberty, according to the Commission on Global Governance (1996), means overcoming the impulse to possess turf.   Global rules of custom constrain the freedom of sovereign states by the need for sensitivity over the relationship between international responsibility and national sovereignty.  In other words, although all states are considered sovereign, they are not free individually to do whatever they want with utter disregard to the consequences of their actions and decisions on the global community.  Sovereignty should not be exercised unilaterally by an individual nation-state, no matter how powerful.   The call for global environmental cooperation prevents such unilateral action (Lamb, 1996).

            Respect for justice and equity calls for the reduction in the disparities in the conditions of life of people born into different economic and social circumstances.   There is a need to bring about a more balanced distribution of opportunities around the world which in turn will usher in a more humane world order.    Justice and equity is not limited to present generations but should extend to future generations as well.  Sustainable development is premised on the principle of intergenerational equity (Lamb, 1996).

            Respect for the value of caring provides that global governance has the task of encouraging a sense of caring, through policies and mechanisms, that facilitate cooperation to help those who are less privileged or needing comfort and support in the world (Lamb, 2006).

Respect for the value of integrity provides for the adoption and practice of these other core values outlined, and the absence of corruption.  According to the Commission on Global Governance (1996), adoption of these core values by the global community will allow for a global ethic to emerge.  This global ethic would include a system of international norms which adapt, when necessary, existing norms of sovereignty and self-determination to changing realities around the world.

   The purpose of this global ethic is to transcend the narrow self-interests of people and governments and to focus on the interests of humanity as a whole.   This is best achieved by acceptance of a set of common rights and responsibilities.  Global ethics provides for objectives and limits that the whole world can strive to follow, and without such global ethic, the global civil society could become unfocused and unruly.  This would make effective global governance difficult, thus global ethics is of vital importance (Lamb, 1996).

            In addition to the core values outlined (respect for life, liberty, justice and equity, mutual respect, caring and integrity, effective and humane global governance should also consider the following additional and equally important set of values: right to a secure life, and right to earn a fair living  (Lamb, 1996).

            The right to a secure life involves more than freedom from the threat of war.  It also includes security from chronic threats like hunger, disease, repression, and protection from sudden and harmful disruptions in the patterns of daily life.  It also involves the right to live on a secure planet.  This means our global responsibility of protecting the environment, of the need for action to control human activities that produce risks to the planet’s basic life support system (Lamb, 1996).

            The right to earn a fair living carries with it the implication that there must be some kind of job available from which people may earn their living.  In other words, all people must be accorded the opportunity to earn a fair living.   For instance, in their report, the Commission on Global Governance (1996) provides that it is not fair for developed countries, which contain only 20 percent of the world population, to use 80 percent of the natural resources, or that the permanent members of UN’s Security Council have the right to veto (Lamb, 1996).

            The foundation of global governance is a set of care values, a belief system, which contain values and ideas not new to the proponents and participants of global governance.  These values have been emerging in UN documents since the late 1980s under different names, and underlie every international treaty and agreement.  To achieve a truly effective system of global governance would require enforcement of these core values through programs authorized and implemented by the various international bureaucracies and ultimately, the global community (Lamb, 1996).



The commonly cited deficiencies of global governance may be summarized as follows (Wikipedia, 2006b):

  • International mechanisms for protecting basic human rights, or even preventing large-scale atrocities, have often been weak and inadequate.
  • Agreements on social, human, and ecological issues have very limited effect as compared to trade and finance treaties which are mostly well-enforced.
  • Poor populations do not benefit much nor contribute to the modern global economy.
  • Many international treaties and jurisdictions overlap, and may sometimes be conflicting and confusing (Wikipedia, 2006b).

There is no international body that may authorize the delegation of rule-making authority with the same degree of legitimacy as in national political systems is an important element that should be kept in mind in the quest for global governance.  In transnational rule-making, the level to which citizens are affected by a subject matter should be considered.  The need for participation, control, and deliberation may be said to depend on the extent to which a decision directly affects the lives of citizens subject to a decision.    A context-sensitive threshold would have to be in place to determine the degree of affectedness that validates a claim to participation or control that affects the lives of different individuals and groups (Dingwerth, 2004).

There are four critical standards of democratic legitimacy to consider given a situation wherein the need or necessity of a transnational rule-making between nations arises:

  • Authorisations:  On which sources of formal or informal authorization can the rule-making process draw?

  • Affectedness: To what degree do the issues to be decided affect the lives of different individuals or groups? How are various individuals or groups affected by the outcomes of the decision-making process?

  • Quality of the rules: What are the qualities of the rule(s) devised? Are they first order or second order rules? What degree of obligation, precision, and delegation is attached to the rules? Is the (intended or actual) scope of the rule’s application internal or external?

  • Subsidiarity: How convincing is the framing of the issue to be decided upon as a transnational global problem convincing? In other words, is a transnational/global necessary for the specific contents of the rule-making process? Which interests in transnational/global rules on the issue exist? (Dingwerth, 2004, pp. 30-31)

            An understanding the three functions of international bureaucracies are also crucial in identifying their impact and influences on global policies and issues.   As knowledge-brokers, international bureaucracies set the global agenda.  Within the context of global governance, these bureaucracies influence the behaviour of political actors by changing their knowledge and belief systems. (Biermann and Bauer, 2005).  As negotiation-facilitators, international bureaucracies are influential in shaping global cooperation.  They influence world politics through the creation, support and shaping of norm-building processes for issue-specific international cooperation. (Biermann and Bauer, 2005).  As capacity builders, international bureaucracies can influence on world politics in making international cooperation work through the direct assistance to countries in their efforts to implement international agreements which in turn reshapes national interests.   (Biermann and Bauer, 2005).

Humanising global governance requires us to constantly revisit and remind ourselves of the core values outlined by the UN Commission on Global Governance.  The Commission provides that the foundation of global governance is a global ethic – a system of international norms for nation-states to follow.  These international norms may adapt existing norms of sovereignty and self-determination to changing realities, and the purpose is to provide for less self-interest of individual nation-states and to start focusing on the interests of humanity as a whole.   This requires acceptance of a set of common rights and responsibilities by the global community.   The core values outlined by the Commission in order to achieve such a global ethic include respect for life, liberty, justice and equity, mutual respect, caring and integrity.  In addition, humanizing global governance should also include recognizing people’s right to a secure life (which includes the global responsibility to care for our environment and ultimately, our planet) and right to earn a fair living (Lamb, 1996).


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