Center for Governance and Sustainability

at the University of Massachusetts Boston

Limitations of Universal Frameworks

pg. 18: This [the wider focus and the application of multiple tools] is both because a larger cast of politically influential states makes it harder to attain multilateral agreement on universal frameworks, and because private and other civil society resources are needed to match the scale of many global challenges. While new international laws and institutions are often desirable – and indeed many have been proposed as part of this process – they are not always essential for major progress to be made. 

Readers' Guide Comment on “because a larger cast of politically influential states”

GRI’s Step One explains the difficulty of creating new international standards by citing the diversity of nation-state power, particularly the diversification of power to Southern governments. The assumption here is that the breakdown of consensus on new international standards is not from rigid, old power positions of OECD countries or that a strong MNC community prefers that there are not rules and regulations that might impact its management of globalization. 

GRI needs a strong rationale for explaining inaction on universal standards by nation-states in order to make its case for a "new geography of cooperation." Only if the inaction on universal frameworks is seen as out of reach by the international system, can WEF effectively make the claim that some new combination of governing Actors is necessary to make significant improvements on universal concerns?

At its core, WEF is advocating against the organization of international affairs based on the progressive development of universally recognized frameworks. In short, its position might be summarized as:

Universal frameworks out, ad hoc private sector and NGO frameworks in;

Inter-governmentally adopted standards out, self-selection of international standards in;

Effective implementation by international organizations and governments out, corporate opt-in/opt-out implementation systems in; and

Progress on international conventions out, self-enforcing systems in.

Readers' Guide Comment on “While new international laws and institutions are often desirable – and indeed many have been proposed as part of this process”

This is not a factually accurate statement. In the 450 pages of recommendations, the number of new international laws recommended is less than a dozen; the number of new IGOs recommended is one (for an ocean Interpol). What GRI mostly proposes are ad hoc multi-stakeholder governance arrangements without legally binding frameworks. 

Related Ideas: Step One and Two; Opt-in-Opt-Outism; multi-stakeholder governance; Readers Guide: concluding observations

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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