Center for Governance and Sustainability

at the University of Massachusetts Boston

Direct Interaction

pg. 31:. . . 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. At the same time, by opening our international institutions to more direct interaction with citizens and their elected representatives, while cultivating a greater sense of personal and professional responsibility among them for the health of the international system, we can enlarge the political constituency for international cooperation around the globe. 

Readers Guide Comment on “when the expansion of universal norms and legal obligations is not politically feasible”

It is not just the rogue countries that block the expansion of universal norms and legal obligations, and it is not just the newly empowered southern regional states. Major MNCs and powerful governments do block agreements on new norms and standards when they perceive a challenge to the semi-autonomous space of the international market or an opportunity to narrow commercial self-interests (e.g. the exclusion of multinational environmental standards 1  from the outcome of the original 1992 Rio Conference).

However, the proposal ‘for transformational changes’ presented here is so vague in its practical implementation that it seems its primary purpose is to weaken efforts to provide greater clarity of international norms and inter-governmentally binding obligations. The vagueness of the call to expand the ‘cooperative geometry’ sounds not too different from earlier corporate calls for voluntary ‘self-regulated’ global governance system.          

Related Ideas: Three Special Mechanisms; Step One

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.

  • 1. ^ Harris Gleckman, “Transnational Corporations’s Strategic Responses to ‘Sustainable Development’ in Gree Globe Yearbook of International Co-operation and Environment and Development, 1995, Helge Ole Bergesen and Georg Parmann, editors, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1995
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