Each nation is governed by a single governing body, but what about the world as a whole? Although there is no common “world government”, international issues are regulated by specific organizations—this is called global governance. Does this mean that this is the best form of regulation? In a new study, Prof Gill from York University digs deeper on this issue.

Newswise — Toronto, Canada, 18 February 2020 - We live in a time of profound global crises. So, who exactly is responsible for identifying global solutions? Since there is no common world government, global issues are usually addressed by certain international institutions or organizations that develop laws, frameworks, and policies—a phenomenon called “global governance.” However, does this type of regulation actually work? In a new study in the journal Global Governance, published by Brill, Prof Stephen Gill (York University) raises some interesting questions regarding the current state of global governance and its role in resolving global issues. Moreover, by critically analyzing the aspects of governance, he puts forward a new approach to governing the world. 

To begin with, what role does global governance play in the current global situation? Prof Gill addresses this by first raising the ontological question of what the current state of global governance really is. He asserts that existing policies associated with governance are driven by stakeholders that have vested interests—for example, large transnational corporations and wealthy individuals from powerful economies. These biased policies then often restrict access, debate, and discussion of people outside the governing agencies. Moreover, the so-called legal frameworks can sometimes lead to use of violence in the form of military power—a result of these international policies being applied in unjust ways. Prof Gill states, “Judged on its recent record, global governance as it really is, with its intensifying class, race, caste, and gendered inequalities, has neither stabilized nor legitimated the existing world order. Many policies have, in fact, undermined the well-being, health, and human security of a majority of people.” Prof Gill even believes that these developments have led to a situation of a “global organic crisis,” formed because of multiple structural crises caused by current policies under global governance. 

Prof Gill then goes on to talk about the principles of “inclusion/exclusion” in terms of global governance—in essence, what is usually included or excluded from frameworks of governance. He suggests that despite the evolution of the concepts of governance over time—especially since the two World Wars and the crisis of the 1930s—global governance has supported the dominance of the most powerful capitalist states. Often, “subaltern” elements (in which certain communities are oppressed) become included in social structures, and this is strongly associated with the regulation of the capitalist world market, which only aggravates current crises. He says, “Situations where dominance, violence, and coercion are the norm are reflected in the contemporary post-Cold War shift towards autocratic authoritarian neoliberalism in many jurisdictions. Widespread fraud and corruption provide further evidence of the absence of hegemonic power and leadership.

So, is there a solution to the deep-rooted issues of current global governance? Although Prof Gill considers the current state of global governance to be mostly pessimistic, he acknowledges that there might be some hope for “cautious optimism.” For example, he looks at communities excluded from politics for progressive change—such as scientists, physicians, and professionals. 

Prof Gill, to conclude, proposes a “planetary” approach and emphasizes that governance should focus on the well-being and progress of the society and resolve predominant issues like growing inequality and climate change. He surmises, “We need to identify some forms of political agency that might help reshape governance towards more equitable, socially just, and sustainable planetary governance.”