16 February 2018

Is global governance in crisis, or just transforming?

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Whereas the 20th century was defined by the expansion of multilateral cooperation and integration, the early 21st century has witnessed President Trump’s “America first” policy, “Brexit” and various populist movements challenging economic and political integration. A plethora of new forms of governance - from informal law, to standards and public-private partnerships are rapidly proliferating. Are we witnessing a true crisis of global governance, or simply a transformation? Are new mechanisms of global governance taking the place of the existing multilateral order?

“The changes that we’re observing are a sign of a kind of crisis, or at least a dissatisfaction with how the existing machinery works”, said UCLA professor Kal Raustiala, during a February 8 panel discussion at the Graduate Institute. “The state-centricity of the current model has left people to seek alternatives, and I think we will see more of that.”

“The system, at least in humanitarianism, is in crisis”, agreed Michael Barnett of George Washington University, “but that will shake things up. The hope is that new actors will step into the fold, who’ve been unable to thus far because of our multilateral system”.

“The fact that many other actors have voice and agency in governance is a good thing”, agreed Graduate Institute professor Liliana Andonova. “We’re developing a sphere of governance that was unthinkable in the 1950s.” Fellow Institute professor Joost Pauwelyn said that “in trade, certainly, there is a crisis. It is no longer multilateral, countries want bilateral deals, and there are those who worry if the system will survive the next two years.”

The event, chaired by Graduate Institute professor Annabelle Littoz-Monnet and co-organised by the Institute's Centre for Trade and Economic Integration, Centre for International Environment Studies and Global Governance Centre, is available to watch below.