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Part I Introduction

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In the opening years of the 21st century the question of “governance” has moved to the center of our political, economic, social, personal andreligious lives.

The most immediate and obvious reason for this is that the dominant institutions of contemporary societies – international law regimes, state governments, the global financial system and the corporate organization of economic life, educational and cultural institutions of all kinds – have lost their capacity to govern the spheres of human activity for which they are deemed responsible in such a way as to maintain the common good.

Persons throughout the world are experiencing a profound sense of insecurity and there is widespread distrust of the legitimacy and effectiveness of societal leadership and institutions.

Increasingly, this is viewed as a question regarding the adequacy of the prevailing modern ideal of governance – democracy. This question is being pressed from a number of critical angles: whether it is a universal ideal or exclusively Western in form and origin; whether it is necessarily linked to the capitalist organization of economic life; whether it can serve as a meaningful and realistic ideal for the governance of international institutions; how it is used ideologically to advance the interests of the socalled “democratic nations”; whether it finds moral and spiritual support in world religions and indigenous traditions; whether as a matter of internal logic it requires a strong doctrine of human rights; whether under conditions of mass urban society and unprecedented concentrations of military, economic and political power it is more than a nostalgic reminder of the kinds of public participation in governance that once characterized small scale social life; not to speak of spirited debates between advocates of competing conceptions of democracy, from libertarian to liberal to social democratic and more.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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  • Democracy, Ecological Integrity and International Law
    Democracy, Ecological Integrity and International Law is the latest product of research by the Global Ecological Integrity Group (www.globalecointegrity.net), an organisation that has been meeting annually since 1992 to discuss scientific, philosophical, political and legal aspects of ecological integrity. This collection examines various aspects of governance from the standpoint of integrity: from democracy, to forms of Native governance, from globalization and neocolonialism to specific human rights to food, water and climate.
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