Center for Governance and Sustainability

at the University of Massachusetts Boston

Five Steps

The five steps are each different in character. The first focuses on a conceptual transformation in thinking about global governance; the second defines the relative importance of the state and non-state Actors in international governance; the third and fourth steps are programmatic actions which demonstrate that the proposed new system would work better than the current system; and the fifth is an appeal for a new morality in business.  The editors of Everyone’s Business consider that “these five steps constitute a blueprint for renovating and rejuvenating international cooperation in an era of increasingly complex interdependence.” 1

Step One is to “redefine the international system as constituting a wider, multifaceted system of global cooperation in which intergovernmental legal frameworks and institutions are embedded as a core, but not the sole and sometimes not the most crucial, component.”

The bedrock of the current intergovernmental system of governance is a series of treaties, conventions, and agreements. Through their national governance processes, nation-states negotiate, sign, and adopt legally binding agreements with other nation-states. 2  These agreements provide the basis for the rule of law in international relations. Other specialized agreements provide the legal authority to establish international organizations. WEF proposes to redefine the international system such that the outcome of ‘multifaceted system[s] of global cooperation’ can be more ‘binding’ than formally adopted treaties and conventions. It is for this reason that they are appealing for a conceptual redefinition of international relations that enhances the role of ‘non-state’ actors and the leadership of the G20 in the arena of global governance.

Step Two  is to “strengthen the state-based part of the system where its rules and capacities are inadequate, while expanding the geometry of cooperation to capitalize on the wider availability of non-state expertise and resources.” This step has two distinct elements. The initial phrase focuses on the existing nation-state based intergovernmental system and calls for its 'strengthening.' The second element, the ‘new geometry of cooperation’, seeks to incorporate the strengths of non-state actors into the formal state-centric governance system and therefore fundamentally change the character of current inter-governmental system.

Step Two claims that international governance should no longer be conceived of as restricted to a two-dimensional structure involving states and international organizations. The multidimensionality of the existing global system needs to be fully recognized and incorporated as the basis for the future understanding of a global governance system. The two traditional institutions of international relations – nation-states and international organizations – should be understood to be complemented by firms, civil society organizations, media groups, religious bodies, global cultural institutions, and other stakeholder forces.

 

Step One - Related Ideas: Redefinition; Limitations on universal frameworks; G20 – top down; Direct Interaction; Early harvest; Joint Review; Legitimacy; New Tools; Repositioning

Step Two – Related Ideas: Strengthen UN rule making and capacities; Strengthen UN with non-state resources

The Readers' Guide welcomes commentary – critical or otherwise – of the above interpretation of GRI’s perspective and the issues involved.

  • 1. ^ GRI, introduction, pg 12
  • 2. ^ Or regional economic organizations (e.g. European Union).

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