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Introduction to the week

Welcome to your second week on global governance ! This week we will discuss why, and to what extent, there is a need for global governance.

Unless all countries turn inward and become completely cut off from the rest of the world, there will always be common international affairs that call for some form of management. The key questions are about the type, nature and extent of international governance. Do we need to develop governance at the global level, at the regional or bilateral levels? All of them together? Who should be involved in those schemes? States only, or mostly? States, NGOs, firms, philanthropic foundations? Should governance focus on the development and enforcement of rules? Or on ad-hoc deals? Should international governance be given legal authority over all actors, leading to embryonic patterns of international government?

To answer those questions, one first needs to clearly identify the specificity of the common affairs to be governed: what is often called the nature of the problem to be addressed. Some problems, like climate change or communicable diseases, are inherently more public than others, calling for global mechanisms. Others may be private to a subgroup of actors, calling for more local or regional solutions, with possible assistance from other parts of the world. Apart from the “public-private” divide, problems vary according to the number of issues to be addressed and their “interconnectedness”. Clearly, therefore, one needs sharp analytical lenses to understand the need for action before turning to the toolkit for action.

Let’s practice those analytical skills by considering in more detail the nature of problems and the adequacy of public actors in addressing them.

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This article is from the free online course:

International Affairs: Global Governance

The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies