EUROPP – Divided Nations: Why global governance is failing, and what we can do about it

Ian Goldin, Professor of Globalization and Development at the University of Oxford, discusses the challenges of cross-border governance presented by globalization and presents 5 core principles necessary for a solution:

….Yesterday’s structures are not equipped to deal with today’s problems, but thankfully it is not too late. Aggressive action must be taken, and such action would be effective if it incorporates five core principles which I have developed together with my Oxford colleague, Ngaire Woods. First, global action is only required on global problems. Local jurisdictions matter and should continue to address local and national problems on their own terms.

Second, while not everyone must be included in global negotiations, inclusion of key actors is essential. It is an obvious point that if the biggest polluters are left out of climate change agreements, the agreement is useless—but this principle must be central to any reform efforts.

Third, efficiency is essential. Unwieldy bodies that include everyone are worse than nimble, exclusive bodies that involve the key players. Who are the key players? It depends on the issue. The small island nation of the Maldives, sinking from rising sea levels, should not be included in questions about regulating climate change but must be included on negotiations about mitigating its impacts. If small groups of key countries with much at stake are involved, gridlock can be broken.

Fourth, legitimacy is required for effective global governance. A system must be in place wherein countries may disagree with certain rules of the game, but accept the referees. Fifth, enforceability is paramount. None of these principles matter if they cannot be enforced.

Global governance is the challenge of our time. Our arsenal of stale institutions cannot cope with existing threats to peace, stability, and prosperity. Whether we like it or not, we are all in this together. It’s time we start acting like it.

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