Center for Governance and Sustainability

at the University of Massachusetts Boston

Challenges to UN System

pg. 24: The second legitimacy challenge [the first was rebalancing voting strengthen in the IFIs] was to international institutions posed by the transformation of the international community in recent decades relates to changes among their ultimate stakeholders: people.. . . international organizations would appear to be even more implicated by this general trend [of new demands on institutions to explain and account for their strategies and performance] than national governments, businesses, universities, NGOs or religious organizations 

Readers' Guide Comment on “international organizations would appear even more implicated by this general trend”

A major concern of the overall GRI report is the legitimacy of the entire international system. Here it is asserted without any evidence that international organizations suffer from a greater lack of legitimacy than that of multinational corporations, international banks, or national militaries. With MNCs now exercising very significant international economic, social, and environmental power, it is a bit odd that WEF asserts that IGOs are more implicated in the failure to deliver international goods and services. One explanation is that is an effort to draw attention away from the illegitimacy of globalization as a phenomenon.

Nowhere does Everybody’s Business examine the potential legitimacy challenges to the governance of MNCs, international banks, and military forces. There is significant work done on the international aspects of corporate governance (the recommendation that global boards need to be regionally balanced), on too-big-too-fail financial institutions (the recommendations from the Financial Stability Board), and on demilitarizing international relations (the recommendation on the work of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute).

Everybody’s Business also glosses over the de-funding of nation-state bodies by corporate tax avoidance strategies. These practices significantly cut tax payments to national authorities and serve to limit the financial resources available for Official Development Assistance (ODA) and to the multilateral system. In this sense, international corporate tax avoidance practices greatly add to the inability of the international system to provide appropriate social service programs in developing countries and to perceptions that the IGOs are not delivering the necessary support in various part of the world. 

Related Ideas: Steps Three and Four; UN and private, non-state world; public-private UN; Tool Two

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