World Politics

The Idea of Global Governance

governance” has increasingly become common sense within the political-economic
sphere in the context of preaching for accountability and transparency. There
is,however, a grey space that claims questions of what the end goal of such
coherence is called for and who it seeks to serve. This paper shall
descriptively delve into the need for Global Governance in today’s world while
enumerating its corresponding challenges and criticisms.      

“International solidarity is not an act of
charity, it is an act of unity between allies fighting on different terrains
towards the same objective. The foremost of these objectives is to aid the
development of humanity to the highest level possible.” – Samora Machel

international arena in the 21st century requires a catalyst to unify the world
beyond borders and to build global institutions that can combat disparagement
of the idea of globalisation. The resolution to this conundrum is the dilation
and legitimisation of global governance. Global Governance is essentially a
framework that proposes global relationship and a knit playing field
integrating all spheres of a society including social, economic, political,
cultural, and environmental sectors to revolve issues with a collective
consciousness[1] as liberalists
would preach.

This is
however unachievable without all actors in the system including, states,
political figures and leaders, quasi state actors, corporate sector and institutions,
MNC’s and the financial system collaborate to form a coherent structure that
can vastly influence the grassroots of the system. This is parallel to the idea
of mega diplomacy proposed by Parag Khana, a profound specialist in international
relations. As Parag Khana stated, “We’re moving into a post Westphalian world,
a world which is populated where the authoritative actors are not just
governments. They are companies”.[2] He explains how
diplomacy has widened as a tool into diverse spheres such as private mercenary
armies, AI and technology, humanitarian agencies and non-governmental
organizations, the educational sector; schools and universities, religious
institutions and organisations and much more. He believes that diplomacy
stretches beyond multilateral institutions such as the United Nations and the
World bank or bilateral relations between nation states themselves. This is
more efficient as it uplifts the accountability held by state and non-state
actors. It propagates a sense of global order and global citizenship in an
interdependent world as an aftermath of proactively embracing globalisation.

While there
is no universally accepted definition of ‘Governance’, The
Commission of Global governance defines the same as ‘the sum of the many ways
individuals and institutions, public and private, manage their common affairs’.
It has posited that governance is ‘a continuing process through which
conflicting and diverse interests may be accommodated and cooperative action
may be taken’.[3] The concept of
Global Governance is viewed narrowly as a movement to address today’s issues
while it is fundamentally much more. As Whitman (2009:8)[4] stated,
it is an instrument to help independent states reach out for help in the face
of emerging international issues and come together to create the envisaged
world of peace and harmony. This stems out of the inefficiency and the failure
of global institutions. For instance, humanitarian relief having been sent to
Rwanda in 1994 during the genocide by the UN enforcing the Tusi military could
have deterred the massacre at its grassroots.

backlash may be seen as a growing hindrance to the expansion of Global
Governance as states are reluctant ant towards embracing the rapid
interdependence often leading to circumstances and conflicts that arise out of
intervention. Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations rightfully
stated while addressing the assembly that “the
Central challenge we face today is to ensure that globalization becomes a positive
force for all the world’s people, instead of leaving billions of them in
squalor”.[5] While
an ambitious concept, it may serve to be counterproductive in nature. The shift
towards abandoning globalisation in neither desirable nor pragmatic. Revoking
the systemic change, it has brought about for more than a decade now would
bring along multifaceted problems hand in hand. It goes unrecognised, that the
issue isn’t globalisation, but how we work around it and how it is managed. As
rightly pointed out by Stiglitz, the macroscopic problem lies in the hands of
the global financial institutions such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO),
World Bank and The International Monetary Fund (IMF). They go beyond their
mandates to ideally sere the best interest of the developed nations as opposed
to the developing unindustrialised nations.

Need for Global

policy challenges influencing nation states on an individual level see the need
for cooperative global approaches within the contemporary world. This would
require re-building of the mechanisms of global governance and its constant
expansion to address global issues that are on the rise. Globalisation, being
the epicentre of the framework, is array of opportunities alongside challenges.
While the debate on pollution persists, issues such as terrorism, drugs abuse,
arms proliferation, climate change, and data security have crossed national
borders in search of global solutions. These while picked up within the
domestic affairs of individual states within their political agendas,
require integrated policy change in the international arena to be dealt with in
an effective and constructive manner.

While viewed
as transnational, the effects of global governance have a direct influence
within the domestic there of each individual state. As Halabi (2004:23)[6] stated,
that the framework of global governance is best suited to manipulate
globalisation’s forces, control its detrimental negative effects and recognises
that globalization cannot lead to global governance like cooperation
correspondingly may not be facilitated by the anarchy that prevails in the
international system. In the anarchic system, the challenge stands as states
seek authority, power and control. While this collective consciousness is
imperative for change, the thirst for power breaks down the cooperation and
leads to violations in search for a state of hegemony. While offensive realists
would argue that this is natural, this state of neutrality is least beneficial
for the scale of change that meets the eye. A multilateral approach is
therefore the only possible explanation which not only levels the playing field
for all but also doesn’t compromising on valuing the voices of each of its
stake holders from time to time.

While the framework sounds equitable, it is impossible
to isolate domestic values in a multilateral setting. Deliberation and debate
may still lead to decision making that isn’t convincingly adhered to by all
states. Hence, policy development needs to be holistic in nature.


One of the
main challenges to Global Governance is state sovereignty. Stemming from the
widely accepted grassroots of the Westphalian system that today UN carries
forward in its mandate stated, “the
concept of nation-state sovereignty based on two principles: territoriality and
the exclusion of external actors from domestic authority structures ”.[7] Global
Governance can be maximised in the state of absence of state governments and a
collective sense of shared sovereignty to create a cohesive international

The ability
for nations to contribute to change may diversely vary corresponding to their
standing and their state capabilities. As Halabi (2004:24)[8]recognises,
while global governance seeks to resolve disputes and issues, it does not
restrict states in continuing to pursue wealth within the created structure of
their own. Hence, we need a global interface that can pool in these independent
capabilities and empower international actors to foster change.

and subordination of states hinders the process of global governance. As
pointed out by Mehta (2007:4)[9], the idea of
‘international’ is often perceived as the G8 or the G20. The G8[10], while
primarily focusing on economic issues are seen to represent and speak for the
entire international community as they guide the forces of response to global
issues and challenges. From an economic lens, the G8 as one might multilateral
institution concentrates the power to manipulate the procedures of world
economics. This prevailing hierarchy in the system therefore deters the
comprehensive bridge between the rich and poor states, further breaking down
the cooperation.

Limits of Global

Some of the
fundamental limits to the idea go Global Governance includes the force’s
ability to comply with international rules, to maintain transparency, to be
able to create win-win resolutions that are mutually beneficial in interstate
disputes, and its ability to empower international organisations to deliver
required international aid in terms of services and public goods for all
nations to thrive in an equitable system. All nations have an intrinsic need to
join these international organisations and institutions to prove their
international legitimacy within the global community.

challenges have been witnessed prominently in many spheres of transnational
issues. The United States’ non-cooperation in the environmental
protect through the implementation of the targets to reduce CO2 emissions that
would help curbing global warming in accordance to the Kyoto protocol[11] is an
apt example of the same. The target of global poverty reduction has prompted
international economic institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and
the World Bank to strengthen their policies through the launch of CDF
(Comprehensive Development Framework) and PRSP’s (Poverty Reduction Strategy
Papers). Yet, the need for radical reformation persists. A report by the IFIAC,
also known as the Maltzer Commission[12] deduces the
inefficiency of the World Bank by pointing out the inconsistency in its
assistance provided to the social programs for the rural as its administrative
work overlaps significantly with the domestic and regional developmental banks
hence leading to low performance of the institution as a unit. The commission
called for a privatisation of the World Bank’s lending operations leading to
its conversion into a World Development Agency.

The field of
human rights has been widely debated due to the lack of coherence and
inconsistencies in policies that are adapted to the domestic affairs of each
state. Human rights for the moral compass for global governance as violation
proliferate across the globe. The asymmetry of information enables institutions
and states to exercise policies that impede several rights that individuals are
fundamentally entitles to. The use of policing, coercion and torture violate
rights including their rights to food, health care, housing and many more. The
conundrum of capital punishment and its violation to the fundamental right to
life has been debated for decades. The implementation and an ability to uphold
and maintain this moral compass of human rights is a test of the potential of
Global Governance.

The breakdown
of trade agreements highlights the over reliance and dependance of developing
nations on the export of commodities that carry the brunt of collapsing prices.
Such disputes and inequities within investment and trade may also be seen among
large and advanced nations that seek to uphold leverage against one another
such as the persisting trade conflict between USA and China. The shift in focus
is therefore now on the diversification of exports that may be facilitated if
Global Governance can effectively manage the forces of globalisation and
streamline it through new international agreements supporting the price of

Last but not
the least, the uprise of civil society conflicts and revolutions are grossly
mismanaged. The recent measures taken by the United Nation of disputes such as
the ongoing Syrian Civil War and unrest have led to questioning the legitimacy
of the proposals passed through the Security Council and the body itself. While
funding for the institution is always constituted as a fundamental issue, no
constructive measure to rectify the same has been collectively formed by the
member states of the international organisation.


While Global
Governance seeks to benefit all, it is over ambitious and idealistic. There are
several reforms that are imperative to its efficient implementation. Firstly,
it is important to modify how states perceive state sovereignty and dismiss the
threat that global governance poses to it. It is crucial to sustain he
representation of state governments to retain the democratisation of global
institutions. With that said, the international community has a heavy reliance
on national governments as opposed to weakening them. Weak states carrying a
contrasting perception are not only a threat to themselves but also to the
framework of Global governance. Weak legitimacy in nations that may categorised
as rogue states, fake democracies or quasi authoritarian states have a high
degree of threat on their efficiency and potential. This is however enhanced in
states that exercise more liberty and freedom, where the civil society
representation is high.

global governance requires an accountable and moral structure. These two
elements must be universally recognised as backbones of the framework that are
essential and uncontested. Subsequently, regional governance and domestic
affairs must be trusted and respected to maintain development and management of
state infrastructure and the preservation of natural resources. Emerging
regional powers must refrain from dominating the playing field and facilitate
trade and regional agreements to foster global governance by mobilising people,
boosting imports and exports, and effectively managing resources.

the needs to be an urgent democratisation of international economic
institutions such as the UN, World Bank, WTO and IMF to filter and check the
viability of proposals and measures taken. There needs to be a reiterated call
for conformity of these revolutionary and policy making bodies with the cause
of strengthening global governance, enabling them to efficiently respond to
current and emerging global challenges. There needs to be an expansion of the
Security Council that restricts the veto power in the hand of a few elitist
nations and a reformation of the mandate of the UN enabling it to target short
term goals making it more effective.

Lastly, the
legal structure require reform. The international judiciary and legal system need
to be strengthened adhering to the globalised relationships between states that
supersede domestic dynamics of legal frameworks within states. International
courts such as the ICJ and the ICC must take cognizance of the changing world
that the seek to serve.

The global
community must in tandem minis the unilateral rule and isolate the quest for
hegemony to create a system of cooperation and enable the upliftment of
subordinated sections of societies such as women, children, indigenous people,
underprivileged, refugees and many more. The structure should encompass all
state and non-state actors to help developing nations in the society meet the
Millennium Developmental Goals to ensure peace, harmony, uphold human rights,
reduce the detrimental effect of global warning on climate change, combat
terrorism, curb migration and nuclear proliferation alongside fostering growth
in the international, regional and individual state level. Global Governance is
there a vital instrument that seeks to intertwine global interests and look
beyond domestic foreign policies to form a global knit community that envisages
a world of peace and harmony. Yet the question prevails, is global governance
an answer to the echoing anarchy or a mere euphemism of a global government?

[1](n.d.). Retrieved from

[2]Bigthinkeditor. (2018, October 5). Parag
Khanna on the Rise of Mega Diplomacy. Retrieved from

[3]Hägel, P. (2011). Global
Governance. Oxford Bibliographies Online Datasets. doi:

[4]Whitman, J. (2009). Conclusion: The global
Governance Prospect. Palgrave Advances in Global Governance, 189–203.

[5]Speeches. (2019, February 13). Retrieved from

[6]Halabi, Y. (2004). The Expansion of Global
Governance into the Third World: Altruism, Realism, or Constructivism?
International Studies Review, 6(1), 21–48.

[7]Timberman, T., & Timberman, T. (n.d.).
The Peace of Westphalia and its 4 Principles for Interstate Relations Isn’t
Failing. Retrieved from

[8]Halabi, Y. (2004). The Expansion of Global
Governance into the Third World: Altruism, Realism, or Constructivism?
International Studies Review, 6(1), 21–48.

[9]Mehta, M. D. (2007). Good Governance.
Encyclopedia of Governance.

[10]Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan,
Russia (suspended), the United Kingdom and the United States.

[11]What is the Kyoto Protocol? (n.d.).
Retrieved from

[12]International Financial Institution Advisory
Commission. (2016, December 23). Retrieved from

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