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G LOBAL G OVERNANCE AND THE U NITED N ATIONS U NDERSTANDING THE UN IN A R APIDLY C HANGING W ORLD Rorden Wilkinson University of Manchester.

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Presentation on theme: "G LOBAL G OVERNANCE AND THE U NITED N ATIONS U NDERSTANDING THE UN IN A R APIDLY C HANGING W ORLD Rorden Wilkinson University of Manchester."— Presentation transcript:

1 G LOBAL G OVERNANCE AND THE U NITED N ATIONS U NDERSTANDING THE UN IN A R APIDLY C HANGING W ORLD Rorden Wilkinson University of Manchester

2 Global Governance what do you think it is?

3 1945

4 Today

5 1945

6 Today

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18 Today

19 The problematique The global governance we currently have is failing: Poverty endures Inequalities are increasing Youth unemployment and dissatisfaction is rising Financial crises keep occurring Environmental degradation is accelerating Insecurities persist (health, security etc)

20 Today

21 The problematique The global governance we currently have is failing: Poverty endures Inequalities are increasing Youth unemployment and dissatisfaction is rising Financial crises keep occurring Environmental degradation is accelerating Insecurities persist (health, security etc)

22 And we have no clear idea about where we—as a planet—are going... we address ‘new’ problems in ‘old’ ways... we don’t think collectively or globally; we think individualistically and selfishly... the global governance that we actually have is dramatically different from the global governance we think we have

23 How do we reinvigorate the UN’s role in global governance? Get to grips with how the world is actually governed Generate big progressive ideas Remember what the UN system has actually achieved Resist destructive institutional cultures and path dependencies Shape the agenda don’t follow it Do more than just ‘partner’ Replace talking with action

24 Aim of the talk to get us to think about the global governance what it is how it has changed what it should be... so that we can work out what the UN’s role ought to be

25 Why...? Because we are doing something very wrong better global governance is not simply trying harder or doing better neither is global governance or the UN’s role therein self-explanatory or self-evident

26 Who is really involved and what is it all about? Imagined United Nations IMF, World Bank, WTO Regional organisations States NGOs MDGs/heath remit Peace and security Aim/Organisational principle Peace and harmony/a global community Real All of that but also: Financial markets Philanthropists Networks of other actors Criminal organisations Private military actors and terrorist groups... Aim/Organisational principle Self-aggrandisement/a world of individuals

27 The way we think about global governance is bound up with the1995 Report of the Commission on Global Governance and the imperatives of the post-cold war world Uni-polar moment (one superpower) ‘new wars’ trans-boundary problems revitalising global institutions (esp the UN) harnessing the potential of new global actors governing globalisation Its purpose was to find ways to address the challenges of the post-cold war era and to do so in a way that reinvigorated the United Nations. –Hence the focus on ‘partnership’ and ‘brokering’

28 But this is problematic because... Reflects how the world of the early to mid 1990s ought to be governed. We added non-state actors, growing complexity and the forces of globalisation into an existing mix and simply stirred. ‘Partnering’ and ‘brokering’ were seen as the solution The world of the 2010s is different yet we remain focused on addressing the problems thrown up by the way the world had changed rather than how it has changed

29 So how should we think about Global Governance? As a set of questions about how the world is governed and how it ought to be governed. To do this we need to understand global governance as: Different, and changing, in form over time. Comprising –an overarching character (pluralistic, multilateral, egalitarian, imperial, hierarchical, unitary/world government); and –a dominant ideology, discourse and set of aspirations. Having unique and specific problems. Exuding both centralising and decentralising tendencies Comprising myriad different actors, mechanisms and sources of authority at any moment in time

30 And we need to understand that we can change it

31 This is what contemporary GG looks like... A system in flux –state and multilateral structures plus new actors, agents and mechanisms (religious actors, philanthropists, foundations, social entrepreneurs, private military actors). A clear overarching liberal ideology –but one which is subject to challenges (reformist, rejectionist, alternative), and associated way of talking (adjustments costs...) and sets of organisational aspirations (marketisation). Clear sources of authority –(US power, G7/8, OECD, UNSC) but subjected to challenges (G20, ‘rising powers’, ‘next eleven’) and comprising hidden sources (financial markets, ratings agencies). Lack of engagement with global processes –(on climate change, trade etc); outdated machineries for dealing with transnational problems (MDGs); stuttering aid flows Specific problems –accelerated and variegated environmental change, growing inequalities within and between states and social groups, uneven poverty successes, periodic economic crises, innovations in financial markets outpacing regulation, persistent conflicts and human insecurities, transnational terrorism and organised crime, worries over food, water and energy supplies. Centralising tendencies –(institutional longevity, relatively stable power relations, absence of global conflict). Decentralising tendencies –(waning institutional relevance, rising powers, growing conflicts over resources, economic instabilities, ailing global leadership). No clear consensus –on how to move forward; ambivalent public perceptions of the role and value of the UN.

32 What can the United Nations do? The UN needs to ‘steer from above’ by doing more than simply reaffirming its centrality in global governance... working out what a central role in global governance actually means... stopping chasing an agenda and start setting the agenda... Getting over the ‘big ship’ and ‘sovereignty’ problems... Working out what playing ‘partnering’ and ‘brokering’ roles actually are... keeping abreast of changes in the contours and substance of global governance... being quick(er) to identify pressure points and problems... producing brave ideas

33 And developing a common and unified guiding objective for all members of the UN family... recognising that the global governance we actually have has contributed to vast wealth for some and relative impoverishment for others... privileging the concerns and interests of the less powerful, the global ‘left behind’... developing better feedback mechanisms between global policy formulation and operations on the ground... enhancing co-ordination among UN family members as well as with the WTO, BIS, OECD grasping the reform nettle... exercising strong leadership

34 If we don’t change the way we think we run the risk of failing to solve precisely those problems that the UN was set up to tackle... and we ensure that the UN remains what its critics thinks it is

35 [We must] build not a Utopia upon the air or clouds of our own imaginations, but a duller and heavier structure placed logically upon the foundations of the existing system. Leonard S. Woolf, International Government, (New York: Brentano’s Press, 1916).

36 In order to have any efficacy whatever, a world organization must be able to override big states as well as small ones. It must have power to inspect and limit armaments, which means that its officials must have access to every square inch of every country. It must also have at its disposal an armed force bigger than any other armed force and responsible only to the organization itself. The two or three great states that really matter have never even pretended to agree to any of these conditions, and they have so arranged the constitution of U.N.O. that their own actions cannot even be discussed. In other words, U.N.O.'s usefulness as an instrument of world peace is nil. This was just as obvious before it began functioning as it is now. Yet only a few months ago millions of well-informed people believed that it was going to be a success. George Orwell, ‘In front of your nose’, Tribune, 22 March 1946


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