Center for Governance and Sustainability

at the University of Massachusetts Boston

When Obligations and Norms Are ‘Not Possible’

pg. 39: Specifically, by widening our conception of the modes and means of cooperation available in our more complex, bottom-up world, and applying this expanded cooperative geometry in a pragmatic, targeted push for results, we can achieve transformational change even when an expansion of universal norms and legal obligations is not politically feasible. 

Readers' Guide Comment on “we” and “our conception”
           
The lack of references for the ‘we’ and ‘our’ make this recommendation rather hard to implement in any practical fashion. See the earlier comment on the use of the first person plural

Readers' Guide Comment on “can achieve transformational change even when an expansion . . . is not politically feasible”

Universally accepted frameworks are difficult to work out, just as major national legislation can be difficult to work out. The fact that a new legal standard is difficult or that it is seen as politically unfeasible is not a reason to abandon the normal legislative or diplomatic process.

To take one international matter, intergovernmentally adopted standards for human rights, the environment, and worker safety are challenging to develop. During the negotiation process, some Actors are intent on having the lowest possible standard or no standard at all. International religious organizations, civil society bodies, professional associations, and trade associations produce their own versions. Globally recognized international legal standards, whether convention-based or soft law, are more than the standards of any one constituency. Yet somehow over time, governments have managed to create new internationally recognized standards. 

What GRI is proposing is that a self-selected group of Actors, some of whom may well have a financial self-interest in the formulation of a particular standard, will now be welcomed to generate standards which WEF hopes will be seen as new forms of internationally recognized standards. With this approach in place, it will be increasingly difficult to gain agreement on intergovernmentally binding legal standards, as opponents can block consensus and then ‘adopt’ their own more lenient standard since the international undertaking ‘failed.’
 
GRI’s recommendation is to create a situation in which the major firms and states can develop the international ‘rules of the game’ that benefit – or at least do not restrict -- the presumptions behind the existing global market or existing military alliances.     

Related Ideas: Civic culture not robust enough; Step Five; Tool One; second objective: greater effectiveness

The Readers' Guide welcomes comments with alternative examples or counter examples, supplemental assessments of the extracted GRI text or commentary – critical or otherwise – of the above interpretation of GRI’s perspective.

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