Politik und Gesellschaft Online
International Politics and Society 1/1999

Globalisation, global governance and development policy

Preliminary version

Our societies operate with institutions which can no longer cope with the demands made by globalisation. The boundaries between domestic and foreign policy are de facto becoming more fluid but continue to be strictly maintained in the organisation of national policies. Many pressing problems can only be solved at a supranational level. But the institutions required for this purpose are not sufficiently developed. The continuing claim to sovereignty of nation states is blocking the way to rapid institutional adjustment. In addition, the growing wealth gap between poor and rich societies tends to weaken the willingness to co-operate in order to deal with global problems. Such starting points for global governance as do exist are insufficient in three respects: first, the hegemonic policy approach of the US continues to dominate, whereas global governance can only lead to success as a co-operative project. Second, international politics is only concerned with those problems which touch on the interest of the powerful states. Third, such policies are restricted to ad hoc crisis management whereas global problems should be seen as long-term tasks. An effective system of global governance must do more. Binding regulatory frameworks must be created for a series of transnational fields of activity. But this should not be thought of as the hierarchical imposition of rules but as a co-operative process in which non-state actors also participate. The structures and processes of global governance must take their cue from the global problems to be dealt with and must link different forms of policy co-ordination in terms of the objectives to be achieved. Appropriate institutional mechanisms must be developed to this end. These must be embedded in a system of global rule of law and an international culture of co-operation on the basis of common basic standards. But demands continue to be made on national politics, too. Global policy cannot succeed in the absence of states which have the capacity to act; it requires policy-making at several levels. The development of a global governance architecture allocates to development policy the key objective of enabling the developing countries to participate in a meaningful way in the solution of global problems. This implies other priorities than combating poverty for example. The "global governance" model most certainly has the power to give global policy a new direction and to overcome the weight of currently accepted ideas of political reality.

© Friedrich Ebert Stiftung | technical support | net edition bb&ola | Februar 1999