(Re)imagining the Global Governance

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There are three sets of concerns that bear upon a discussion of global governance, and related discourses on the adequacy of world order to meet the challenges of the early 21st century. As used here global governance is concerned with the establishment of order in the absence of world government or strong enough international institutions to implement global norms in relation to political actors strongly opposed. These governance concerns raise a series of difficulties that if left unattended will have serious negative policy consequences for the peoples of the world. Closely related into global governance is the idea of world order, which is primarily focused on the structure of relations and interplay among those political actors that are the makers of world history at any given time.

regulatory authority in the domain of transnational economic activity: The era of neoliberal ideological hegemony following the Soviet collapse favoured a minimization of regulatory authority in the world economy, relying on market forces and crisis management to ensure optimal development and economic growth based on the efficient deployment of capital. This approach more or less dominated the policy scene in the 1990s, although coming under increasing scrutiny due to the mobilization of social forces dissatisfied with the neoliberal distribution of benefits and the hegemonic shaping of global economic policy. The backlash achieved notoriety initially in the so-called “battle of Seattle” in 1999 that exhibited a growing challenge being mounted by both populist forces (“globalization-from-below”) and by many governments of the South no longer willing to defer to Euro-American control over domains of trade and investment (exclusionary regimes established in accord with the priorities of “globalization-from-above”). The worldwide deep recession that started in late 2008 was caused mainly by irresponsibly risky and abusive practices in the banking, financial, and real estate sectors. The painful impact of these market failures has pointed to the urgent need for greater governmental supervision and for socially sensitive forms of economic regulation at national, regional, and global levels. The unsatisfactory character of American leadership on matters of trade, finance, and fiscal policy also underlay the push for global economic reform, including international financial institutions. This push for regulatory authority is strong, but so is corporate and banking resistance to interferences with either market selfmanagement or national sovereignty. At present, governmental actors are seeking to shape a more benevolent world economic order by way of diplomacy, especially to address issues of alleged currency imbalances, as with China, and excess indebtedness, as with Greece. International economic institutions, especially the International Monetary Fund, are an important part of the governance pattern, but less than previously, having somewhat discredited by their handling of the Asian Financial Crisis that occurred a decade earlier, but these institutions do offer governments a somewhat flexible instrument for international cooperation and crisis management. As of now, the concern about inadequate regulation of the world economy persists on two levels: the continuing unwillingness to address claims of an unfair distribution of benefits, including insufficient attention to the plight of the poor throughout the world, and the absence of effective oversight over devious and imprudent banking and accounting practices associated with financing and indebtedness.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5848/CSP.2302.00001

Publication date: January 1, 2010

More about this publication?
  • World Governance: Do We Need It, Is It Possible, What Could It (All) Mean?
    One of the main objections raised against world governance is not that it is impractical, but that it is unnecessary and even undesirable. There is a fear that world government would be or become tyrannical. German philosopher Immanuel Kant devised a project of "perpetual peace," but he was against a world state, advocating instead a kind of confederation of the states in the world. Finally, if a world government is indeed formed, how far should the instruments and tools of such a body reach? These and other issues have been explored in this book. Covering a wide range of disciplines - from philosophy to jurisprudence, ethics, and social science - the book explores how theorists have reflected upon the necessary components of an effective global order.
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