Center for Governance and Sustainability

at the University of Massachusetts Boston

Key Third Building Block

It is the Third Building Block that is significant. It calls for “plurilateral, often multi-stakeholder, coalitions of the willing and able” as a means to getting an agenda item moving. This Building Block implies that diverse institutional arrangements for dealing with a specific global problem, irrespective of formal organizational arrangements and mandates, ought to be a regular part of the global system and recognized as a regular part of the international system. WEF is arguing that one can and should  get legitimate international results from a loose coalition of governments, self-interested MNCs, CSOs, and, if necessary, an international organization.

Under the Third Building Block, a non-state group of organizations or nation-states, some of which may directly benefit from the selection of the solution to a particular problem, can choose which grouping of governments, MNCs, CSOs, and UN agencies it thinks is best for ‘its’ issue. In the best of circumstances, by self-selecting the right “willing and able partners,” dominant players in international relations may well advance an ‘international agreement.’

In short, WEF argues that sometimes the best way forward is to work around the existing international system, not through it. It also argues that sometimes the best way to get something done is to have a central role for non-state partners and to exclude governments. Of course, this is what happens now with issues that are important to major governments or corporations. What WEF is proposing is that this behind-the-scenes methodology should be formally recognized and legitimized as part of normal global governance.

What is curious about the wording of Building Block Three is the use of the expression, “coalition of the willing and able.” The most famous use of the phrase “coalition of the willing and able” in international affairs was made by President George Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair to describe the international force that entered Iraq without a clear mandate from the Security Council.

 

Related ideas - Multidimensionality; Nuclear fuel; Plurilateral; Repositioning; Results-oriented coalitions

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

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