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Research Report

Global Governance 2025:: At a Critical Juncture

European Union Institute for Security Studies
Copyright Date: Sep. 1, 2010
Published by: Atlantic Council
Pages: 82
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-2)

    Global governance—the collective management of common problems at the international level—is at a critical juncture. Although global governance has been a relative success since its development after the Second World War, the growing number of issues on the international agenda, and their complexity, is outpacing the ability of international organizations and national governments to cope. Power shifts are also complicating global governance.

    Some progress has been made to adjust international institutions and regimes to meet the new demands and to create workarounds, if not new frameworks. Such efforts are unlikely to suffice, however. If global governance structures and...

  2. (pp. 3-8)

    With the emergence of rapid globalization, the risks to the international system have grown to the extent that formerly localized threats are no longer locally containable but are now potentially dangerous to global security and stability. At the beginning of the century, threats such as ethnic conflicts, infectious diseases, and terrorism as well as a new generation of global challenges including climate change, energy security, food and water scarcity, international migration flows, and new technologies—are increasingly taking center stage. Although some of the emerging issues have been debated in multilateral forums for over 20 years, such issues have taken...

  3. (pp. 9-16)

    The shift to a multipolar world is complicating the prospects for effective global governance over the next 10 years. In the second part of the last century, the United States shaped an international order that largely reflected its liberal worldview of free markets and democracy. The United States oversaw provision of global public goods such as monetary stability and open trade routes. In particular after the end of the Cold War, the EU has sought to export its model of regional integration and sovereignty-sharing and has devised a distinctive discourse on global governance and priorities.

    Today, the legitimacy and credibility...

  4. (pp. 17-28)

    Multilateral institutions have adapted to some degree as new issues have emerged, but the adaptations have not necessarily been intentional or substantial enough to keep up with growing demand. Rather, they have been spurred as much by outside forces as by the institutions themselves.

    While multilateral institutions have been struggling to adapt, innovative approaches to global governance have been coming to the fore. Three innovations are of particular interest as pointers for future developments: the emergence of informal groupings of leading countries, such as the G-20; the perspectives for further regional cooperation, notably in East Asia; and the multiple contributions...

  5. (pp. 29-38)

    We assess that the multiple and diverse frameworks, however flexible, probably are not going to be sufficient to keep pace with the looming number of transnational and global challenges absent extensive institutional reforms and innovations. The capacities of the current institutional patchwork—however much bolstered by increasing nonstate support and regional mechanisms—will be stretched by the type of challenges facing the global order over the next few decades. Several clusters of problems—weak and failing states and resources issues—appear particularly unlikely to be effectively tackled without major governance innovations because there is no overall framework to handle them....

  6. (pp. 39-40)

    Future Opportunities, but also Limits Global governance is not slated to approach “world government” because of widespread sovereignty concerns, divergent interests, and deep-seated worries about the effectiveness of current institutions. However, enhanced and more effective cooperation among a growing assortment of international, regional, and national in addition to nonstate actors is possible, achievable, and needed, particularly to grapple with the growing interconnectedness of future challenges. Within that set of parameters, we have outlined several scenarios, none of which ensures a “perfect” world. The first (barely staying afloat) and third (concert redux) would avoid the worst outcomes through preventive action and...