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Global governance in the globalized world
6/7/2007 20:56' Send Print

Political theory and practice in each era, after all, are the outcomes of concrete economic conditions. With the nature of a process that embraces the current period of our era, the globalization of the economy has created complex and profound changes for contemporary politics in which there arises the the concept of global governance.

1/ Global governance: Concept and causes

With the nature of the generality of all management modes across the world which have been executed by governmental, non-governmental, public and/or private power structures in order to deal with global issues and maintain the generally agreed and accepted order in the world, global management has been introduced by western politicians in the face of the failures of the market economy and the State in managing society and economy. The failure of the market is reflected in the inefficiency of macroeconomic policies; unavoidable crises, and the powerlessness before the monopoly and individualism, anarchy, and social anarchy. The failure of the State is shown by bankcruptcy of various policies toward social welfare, bureaucracy and rigidity in economic handling and management, increasing non-production costs, corruption and waste etc. These weaknesses and limitations of the State have become more serious in the globalization process. The global economy does not have a general management structure for the entire globe. In this context, there arises a theory on the need for a multi-center, multi-level and non-governmental governance towards the entire globe. This is the theory on global governance without global government.

Global governance is a product of history and originates from the movement of the economy, society, environment and politics in the world in the era of globalization. In the economic aspect, the interdependence between economies and the constant threat of crisis have created the need for a global governance mechanism. Many economic processes and activities, especially financial-monetary activities, have gone beyond the governing capacity of any individual government. Despite the efforts of international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank (WB) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) in introducing certain framework agreements and rules to maintain the global economic order, internal limitations and governance models of these institutions are not able to accommodate increasing and complex requirements of global practice.

In social and environmental aspects, governments and international and civil social organizations etc should join the common effort in dealing with poverty, disease, environmental and ecological crises and establishing new relationships in international social life according to the principle of amicable agreement among people and between people and nature.

In the political aspect, the old international power structure is no longer suitable for the modern world and lacks the creation of a new political and economic order for the era after the cold war. Traditional international politics were also the kind of politics employed by governments of nations under the influence of major countries. In the era of globalization, world politics, including global governance, bears a global nature which goes beyond national interests. These politics do not have room for nation-based agreements in the formulation of agendas, organizational and operational structures.

2/ Forms and nature of global governance

In the current international social life, there are four aspects of political power: governments, official international institutions, global civil social organizations and transnational forces. All these subjects are promoting their indispensable and irreplaceable roles in governing social life across the globe. Although a global government is an impossible thing, global governance is an undeniable need.

There are some differences between global governance and the traditional management employed by many States. The subjects who use the governance power are not necessarily the governments, instead they are either regional institutions, an international association of volunteers who are citizens of various nations, a transnational corporation etc. There are increasing numbers of new and non-governmental factors such as interest groups, religious communities, ethnic groups, professional associations and humanitarian organizations, for example. These new factors have gathered resources and strength, and are promoting exchange and joint efforts dealing with a series of international, national, community and local issues, such as child welfare, AIDS prevention and treatment, the struggle against drugs, crime, protection of religious freedom, human rights, and reduction of poverty etc.

The International community increasingly welcomes and appreciates the activities of these new factors (the Anti-Mine Movement led by J. William was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1997), and even considers them as supplementary elements for what the national governments cannot reach out to. People now more often talk about the “third hand” in addition to the invisible hand of the market and tangible hand of the State in governing social life on both a national and global s.

Global governance does not bear the obligatory and legal nature. Instead, it very much relies on consensus, agreement and voluntariness. The movement of global governance is not vertical. Instead it moves in a multi-dimensional way, especially in a horizontal way. The operation of global governance is, in essence, the interaction between concerned subjects. The scope of global governance goes beyond national borders and covers parts or the entire territory of a number of countries or even the entire world.

From the viewpoint of world politics, the old international power structure established in 1945 is no longer suitable to current economic, political, security, defense situations and international relations. The old international power structure, in key aspects, is maintained by strong powerful institutions such as the G7, NATO, the IMF, the WB, the WTO etc which are headed and dominated by the U.S. This previous power structure has lost many reasons for its existence, such as its primary cohesive aim, which was an anti-communist and anti-Soviet stand. International mechnisms which were established from this power structure will inevitably become obsolute. The concept of international politics means politics between governments or nations but no longer fully reflects international life. The new concept of international politics rejects any identity of nations, and refers to all subjects who participate in world life, including transnational forces, non-governmental organizations, and social movements etc.

3/ Global governance in the globalized world

The world today is diversified and complex and a number of small nations find it hard to deal with major issues. On the other hand, some countries are too big to tackle minor matters. This situation has been observed and commented on by the well-known American scholar Damien Ben. To adapt to globalization, an objective requirement is to diversify the forms of social management in the global scope while continuing to heighten the role of national governments and international institutions, non-governmental organizations, social movements and transnational forces on the basis of bilateral and mutually beneficial cooperation.

The world economy in the globalization process is characterized by transnational associations of capital from different nations, the highly internationalized role of capital, the world financial system, and the increasing role of international economic and financial institutions which are sophisticatedly influencing macroeconomic policy of national governments. From these features, some scholars has commented that a transnational social class is emerging, and further that a transnational State apparatus (the IMF, the WB, the WTO, the G7, OECD etc) are taking the place of national governments. This observation is not true. Some national states are transforming the forms and contents of their operation, apparatus and personnel but national governments have not been replaced.

In the early years of the 21st century, the world realizes that in the near future, the organization and operation of a bureaucratic state will be incapable of managing society. Post-industrialized society and globalization require each state and its civil servants to be equipped with new and higher qualifications. This pressing requirement forced a number of Anglo-Saxon countries to initiate public administrative reform which has then spread over the entire world in the last 20-30 years. The main theme of the administrative reform is to renew and transform the state apparatus, replace inertia and rigid forms of organization with flexible ones which are responsive to the diversified needs of citizens and change. New models of state have been successively introduced. These models have features such as decentralization, non-bureaucratic and adherent hierachy with some respresentative agencies which are not associated with the central government. On the operational side, the organization of state agencies are somewhat similar to design groups in industry and are responsive to the external environment. The heads of these agencies are vested with autonomous powers to allocate State resources, define indicators, socio-economic objectives and human resource policies, including the decision of what salary level should be paid to laborers.

A number of countries has socialized some activities of state agencies, especially in the services sector on the basis of the competitive priniciple of the market economy. Some functions which belonged to the administrative monopoly of the State, such as making budget estimates, budget analysis, tax collection, maintenance of social order, and running prisons have been handed over to private enterprise. In some countries, the rotation of staff working at administrative posts as well as the employment of businessmen have been introduced in order to supplement new thinking, capacity, skills and experiences.

In addition to the vertical relationship between State managerial agencies at different levels, a horizontal relationship between State agencies and non-governmental organizations, associations, self-regulatory bodies has also received a boost. As a result, a network of governance in which the State agencies closely cooperate with social and civil organizations on the basis of agreement, exchange of resources and mutual benefits. This type of network not only exists within national boundaries but is also expanding on a global scale.

In the history and theory of State governance, the regime system and instituitionalism play important roles and have a lasting influence. The regime system emphasizes the enforcement nature of principles, guidelines, rules, official procedures of the operation of organizations and individuals in the State apparatus. Today, in order to accommodate the globalized world, the regime system has shifted from a rule-based mode to a regulation and concept-based mode which is more flexible and specialized. Within the global governance and regulatory system, global regulation plays the nucleus role which has common normative features, and all power subjects in the world should follow when they commit themselves to participate in this system. Thanks to such global regulations, there has been a non-governmental directing mechanism in international politics.

According to the movement of world politics, globalized market and citizen society, there are some possible challenges to States and national governments:

First, the implementation of national sovereignty must be carried out in the new framework. Although States and national governments are still the first and irreplaceable subjects in the current power structure, they are not the unique and almighty. The supreme jurisdiction of the State and national government on domestic internal and external affairs remains unchanged and increasingly has to cope with greater and heavier responsibilities. For example, when exercising national sovereignty on domestic natural resources, national governments must follow Articles of the 1972 United Nations’ Declaration on environment absolutely.

Second, national control over the regulation of macroeconomic issues is influenced by a number of external issues. Today, the virtual economy with virtual values is much greater than the real economy, and it brings about absolute power for the financial-monetary markets. Even the U.S government has to consult the situation of these markets before determining its fiscal and monetary policies. In an era where economies are associated and depend on each other, the State still holds the right to intervene into and manage economic activities, but they do not have enough capacity to regulate and govern the global market and global economy. In reality, the global economy is being controlled by transnational economic forces.

Third, the development of a global civil society has created a number of common power spaces which go beyond the national scope. In this context, one identical individual may act as the representative of a community in a greater power space between different nations and people.

To properly handle challenges, the governments of many countries in the world have taken an active stand in carrying out reforms. The content and models of reforms may differ from one another, but in general they have three common features: first, decentralizing the State power to local authorities. It is not a process of abandoning the power of central government, instead it is a method of strengthening that power in a more effective and appropriate way. Central government does not take the position of local authorities in managing local social affairs. The central government should monitor and supervise the management work carried out by local authorities. Thanks to decentralization, all decisions get closer to reality and win the support and participation of organizations and people in the management of society; Second, bringing into full play the role of market mechanism in allocating resources for social development; Third, promoting democracy across society to ensure the development of political democracy and to ensure that the power belongs to the people.

In general, scholars and the international community observe that in the era of globalization, the need for the management and governance of national governments is greater. But this mangement and governance should be appropriate to the new conditions, context and factors brought about by this process of globalization.

Nguyen Viet Thao