Theme Panel: Global Governance: Stagnation or Transformation?


Theme Panel: Global Governance: Stagnation or Transformation?

Thu, September 1, 8:00 to 9:30am

Evaluations of global governance have diverged over the past decade. On the one hand, the traditional collaborative vehicles of multilateral, intergovernmental and formal organizations have been declared stagnant or obsolescent. Grand bargains negotiated among large numbers of national governments appear increasingly difficult or impossible; rising powers, such as China and India, favor informal mechanisms, such as the G20, rather than new, legally binding instruments. At the same time, existing global institutions enjoyed a reputational revival during the financial crisis of 2008-09; rather than dysfunctional fossils, they demonstrated that “the system worked.” In recent months, these contrasting views have each found support: in the Paris climate talks (COP21), which seemed to restore faith in large-number negotiations, and in the Nairobi ministerial meeting of the WTO, which confirmed the demise of the stalemated Doha Development Round of trade negotiations.

Global governance is no longer limited to IGOs and negotiations among national governments, however. Beside the contested, conventional arenas, non-state and subnational actors—NGOs, multinational corporations, provincial and city governments—have embarked on their own collective, cooperative enterprises. The proliferation of these new modes of global governance, in issue areas such as climate change mitigation, cyber, and global health—has led some to suggest that global governance is not stagnating, but undergoing a transformation. For others, these new varieties of activism are not a substitute for effectiveness. In this view, the informal processes underway are not transformational, but distinctly second-best when compared to legally binding agreements that promise to alter national policy trajectories.

The roundtable will consider these competing views of global governance, examining both the state of formats centered on national governments and formal institutions as well as a variety of new institutional forms and processes that have developed beside—and perhaps as an alternative—to those intergovernmental forums.

View in the 2016 Online Program.

Miles Kahler, American University (Chair)

Martha Finnemore
Daniel W. Drezner, Tufts University
Jessica Green, New York University
Judith Kelley, Duke University
Jon C. W. Pevehouse, University of Wisconsin, Madison