By Julia Tiemens

We consider Global Governance to be a complex ecosystem of diverse institutions. It is the art of combining informal and formal ideas, helping actors to address transboundary issues and to coordinate their collective action at the global level. At its core, lies the provision of crucial public goods like peace and security. The term governance traditionally refers to purposive systems of rules and the regularities emerging from self-interested actors in a state of anarchy. This implies that we have a line of parties looking for obligations to fulfill. The governance of these actors can take different shapes, while on a global scale a form of multilevel government is increasingly common. This includes all scales, normative institutions and a stable pattern of behavior, making well-balanced relationships and equal participation essential. Although there are natural limits, we can say that multi-sector partnerships are the new way to govern the world. However, in our constantly changing world, we face new challenges to which global governance is attempting to find solutions (eg. the rapid technological revolution or the net of relationships within actors). Still, the change also brought increased communication to the actors, contributing a larger number of players to the international system. While political dynamics are changed, countless benefits and challenges are being opened. We assume that today’s global governance is characterized by the decreased salience of states and the increased involvement of non-state actors in norm- setting processes and compliance monitoring.

Today the actors of global governance are as diverse as the formats they appear in. The world is becoming increasingly interconnected in every field, which leaves us with a peculiar situation: never seen before actors are emerging and often finding new ways to become influential. While states used to be the undoubted primary actors, international organizations are now in possession of strong powers. Recent main actors include nation-states, intergovernmental organizations and non-state actors. Their overly complex interactions, permit and foster a network structure of global connections with various types of partners.

In our horizontal community, states serve as fundamental, basic subjects with a high amount of legal personality. They have always been primary actors, as well as the only ones with full sovereignty. All states are equal to each other in the governance process, even if they differ in other areas. However, states are no longer considered the only protagonist in the world’s governance. As states do not have homogenous national interests, they do not satisfy conflict resolution by themselves, as much influence as they still have in law-making and delegating. Just as important as the states themselves, are the intergovernmental institutions (IGO) they make up. These operate with the consent and deliberation of the states, who decide personally on their powers and functions. The largest IGO is the United Nations, which made peace-keeping and conflict resolution in the world their mission. Other important IGOs include the European Union, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

However, the rapid change in this world and the incapability on many levels to find good conflict resolutions gave non-state actors a chance to emerge and gain power. The rising influence is spreading to an international level, where they can act as rule-makers or takers. The recent growth shows how intergovernmental organizations have attained their natural limits as they are based on states, while non-governmental organizations increased without limits. At this point, even the UN, which remains the leading institution worldwide, opens to many new actors and grants them observer status (eg. international committee of the red cross). The main reason for the grand emergence is the looser organizational structures which allow more efficiency due to less bureaucracy. The risk hidden behind is the formal oversight of constraints of international law which can have a disproportionate influence on the outcomes of certain decisions.

One relevant non-state actor is the Non-profit non-governmental organizations (NGO). These organizations are protected and have a legal background, sometimes in the form of incorporation as an association under the country’s national law. Their main tasks are conflict resolution mechanisms, serving the official interstate relationships. The most important examples of NGOs nowadays, include the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, Amnesty International and Greenpeace. They all have one thing in common which is that they are independent charitable organizations or other non-profit bodies that focus on areas that affect international relationships positively (mostly humanitarian or environmental areas).

Along with NGOs, other emerging actors are multinational and transnational enterprises (MNCs and TNCs). These are private global-scale businesses that operate with big budgets in a blind consumer culture and have increased power in today’s economy. Their interests all over the world, connect them to a certain ability to directly influence the evolutions of law and policies of states. Private actors are increasingly involved in authoritative decision-making, while they were previously just prerogatives of national governments. However, this influence is less official and more practical. Crucial examples of MNCs are huge oil or manufacturing companies. More specifically globalized enterprises, like Apple, Amazon and Volkswagen. Connected to TNCs we have basic transnational actors (TNAs) which solely label the pursuance of goals somewhat independently of governmental consideration. Examples are the Catholic Church and the International Committee of the Red Cross. Actors like these are determined by strong relations across borders, called transnational networks. Such networks make up a central steering mechanism in today’s global environmental governance.

Concluding we can say that the fast change, attributed to globalization, highlights many holes in today’s world governance. These holes call for new actors, which are fully comprehensible of the importance of correlation and cooperation. We live in a world where singular actors cannot have the sole power anymore and where other components, like monetary value, play high roles. In a society, as interconnected as ours, networks and diversity are crucial mechanisms that I believe to be essential for the system to work. Without a doubt, states will lose increased relevance and even more actors will enter the world’s stage, possibly giving emergence to new governance forms.


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