Center for Governance and Sustainability

at the University of Massachusetts Boston

Two Earlier Commissions

The WEF process also drew on two earlier special commissions: the 1991-1994 Commission on Global Governance and the 2003-2007 Helsinki Process on Globalization and Democracy. The Commission on Global Governance, under the leadership of Ingvar Carlsson of Sweden and Shridath Ramphal of Guyana, issued its recommendations in the report “Our Global Neighbourhood” in 1995. 1 The Helsinki Process, under the leadership of the Foreign Ministers of Finland and Tanzania, 2   issued their final report under the title “A Case for Multi-Stakeholder Cooperation” in 2008. 3  

The GRI final report drew quite heavily on the report from the Helsinki Process on Globalization and Democracy and far less from the report of the Commission on Global Governance. Rick Samons, a member of the Helsinki Process, the Managing Director of WEF and a co-chair of the Global Redesign Initiative, noted the connection between the GRI and Helsinki Process in his contribution to the Helsinki report:

 ...[A]lthough formal structures of international governance have been failing to keep pace with global economic and social integration, informal, multi-stakeholder structures are taking root and finding greater acceptance than ever before. In the past five years, there has been a proliferation of multi-stakeholder partnerships on a wide range of problems… - indeed on nearly every global challenge. My institution, the World Economic Forum, is a good barometer of this development. We have witnessed firsthand a steady expansion in the interest of governments, businesses, non-governmental organizations and academic institutions to work together on concrete projects. The number of these initiatives at the Forum has tripled during this period  4

The WEF process also occurred during an intellectually and politically fertile period in the development of new governance proposals within specific policy communities. Within the finance community, there were new proposals to change voting arrangements at the International Monetary Fund and the constituencies in the Financial Stability Board. In the academic world there were new studies on the G20, 5 new research on global ecological governance, 6 and a growing number of academic programs on global governance. In the environmental world, UNEP had been sponsoring a Ministerial-level series of meetings to devise a new structure for international environmental   governance. 7

At the UN in New York there were ongoing negotiations  on the revitalization of the General Assembly, the re-structuring of the Security Council, and the enhancement of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). In other forums, there were also ongoing negotiations on food governance, biodiversity governance, health governance, energy governance, and internet governance, to mention a few.

These sector specific governance discussions were complemented by constituency governance discussions. The report of the Secretary-General’s Panel of Eminent Persons on UN-Civil Society Relationship  8 , for example, sought to re-define the relationship between the United Nations, the private sector, and civil society.

While the intellectual ferment was strong, most of these undertakings resulted in little actual movement. 9

The Readers' Guide welcomes comments with alternative examples or counter examples and commentary – critical or otherwise – of the above interpretation of the context of GRI project.

  • 1. ^ Report of Commission on Global Governance, Our GLOBAL Neighbourhood, Oxford University Press, 1995 subsequently cited as Commission on Global Governance.
  • 2. ^ The Helsinki Process on Globalization had two phases. For both phases, the Finnish Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Teija Tiilikainen represented Finland. Tanzania was represented in the first phase by Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda Mtwara and in the second phase by Foreign Affairs Minister Bernard Membe.
  • 3. ^ Final Report of the Helsinki Process on Globalization and Democracy: A Case for Multi-Stakeholder Cooperation, Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 2008 cited as Helsinki Process.
  • 4. ^ Helsinki Process, page 18
  • 5. ^ The G20 Information Centre at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto.
  • 6. ^ Earth Systems Governance project, Earth System Science Partnership,
  • 7. ^
  • 8. ^ "We the Peoples : Civil Society, the United Nations and Global Governance" report of the Panel of Eminent Persons on UN-Civil Society Relations "Cardoso Commission" (2003 – June 2004).
  • 9. ^ The exception being the very rapid (one day) transformation of the Financial Stability Forum into the Financial Stability Board following the 2008 G20 meeting in London.
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