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EDITH DRIESKENS: My name is Edith Drieskens.I'm a professor of international relations at Leuven Universityin Belgium.How would I define global governance?I would stress that global governanceis a very prominent concept in the worldof international relations and organizations.
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: It's very visible and also highly popular,both among scholars and practitioners.It has been used for the past 20, 25 yearsto describe the complex way in which common affairs aremanaged, organized in today's world.I would also stress that global governance should notbe confused with global government on the one hand
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: and with good governance on the other handbecause it's much more complex than global government.If we talk about global governance,we talk about a web of actions and actors,formal, informal, public, private, even mixed,that are basically trying to manage today's world.So it's much more complex than having one single worldgovernment.
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: It's also very different from having a systemof good governance worldwide.Like every system, global governancehas winners and losers.So you have people on the winning side and peopleon the losing side.It's not about having one global system of good governance.I think what I would also like to stress,if I have to introduce the notion of global governance,
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: is that it is a notion which has many associations.It has become very popular but has also been a little bita victim of its own success.So basically you have people who link the notionto a norm, a concept, a theory.That's a lot.It's basically much more complex than youwould think at first sight.There's a lot of complexity hiding
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: behind the combination of two simple words, between globaland governance.Global governance can be seen really as a child of the time,as a child at the time of complexity.So global governance is about complex governance.
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: And today's world is seen as a rather complex world,at least much more complex than it was during the Cold War.So the notion popped up at the end of the ColdWar in the early '90s, basically both in academiaand within the policy world because peoplestarted thinking on how the changes that they were seeingat that moment in time, systemic changes like globalization, how
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: that they would affect international cooperation.And then you have two landmark publications.On the one hand within academia, youhad the publication by Rosenau and Czempiel,who basically made an edited collectionon global governance.It was titled Governance without Government, theoretical essayson how to deal with the new world and the new world order.
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: And on the other hand, almost in parallel,you had people starting to think within the world of policyalso on how to deal with this new world.There was a commission on global governance.And they coined the term global governance,basically thinking mainly on how to reform the United Nations.And they published a report in 1995,Our Global Neighborhood, in which they defined governance
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: as, let's say, the sum of activities,both of individuals and of institutions,activities that were undertaken to manage today's world.And if you translate it into global governance,it's the sum of activities that both individualsand institutions take to manage common affairsat the global level in today's world.
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: I would disagree with the statementthat nonstate actors are more important than stateactors in global governance.Global governance, it's about the ideathat world affairs are governed through some kind of webof actors and actions.And I think it really depends on the sphere you'retalking about, as well as on the decision-making states,
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: whether or not a nonstate actor is more important than a stateactor.Not all the states are equally powerful.And the same goes for nonstate actors.OK, you can say that, for instance, the Gates Foundationis very important within the sphere of health.But not all nonstate actors are resemblingthe Gates Foundation, its powers, its finances,and so on.
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: So my answer would be no.It would be like it depends.It depends on the sphere.It depends on the decision-making states.It depends on a lot of things.So states are still key actors within global governance,also because they are the only actors that enjoy sovereignty.
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: The norms that are dominant in global governanceare mainly norms that are Westernbased or Western oriented.That's at least what some people would argue.If you talk about global governance,you immediately think, or most of usimmediately think, about democracy rule of law, respectfor human rights, but also good governance, sustainable
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: development, and so on.Maybe it is interesting to say a little bit moreabout one of the newest norms thathas popped up within the world of global governance.That's the norm of responsibility to protect.This popped up in 2005.At least, it was agreed upon within the WorldSummit in 2005, so at the level of the United Nations.
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: And it's very interesting to see howthis norm has developed over a time period of about 10 years.It has been done in a very typical UN way.First you have a crisis.Then you have an idea.They start thinking, developing the idea.You have a document.Then it goes to a summit or something.They take a decision.And then you have to implement the norm.
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: And then it's where the problems really start.So it was conceived by Kofi Annanin the aftermath of the 1999 Kosovo crisiswith NATO's intervention.There was a debate on how to deal with intervention,how to organize intervention.You had a commission, basically, focusing on interventionand state sovereignty.That came with a report, a rather detailed report.
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: And then, basically, what you can see at the World Summitis that they summarized the report into two paragraphsin a much larger document.So it's a rather typical process of howthe international community starts developing a new norm,so to say.What you can also see is, if you lookat the norm of responsibility to protect,
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: is the gap between conceptualizationand operationalization.Global governance actors, international organizationsare really good when it comes to conceptualization,having new ideas, having some consensus on new ideas.But it's much more difficult when wego to the implementation stage.So if you talk about enforcement of norms,
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: we still really depend that the [INAUDIBLE] statesdo enforce a norm-like responsibility to protect.If you're really talking about peace and security,this is where the Security Council comes inbecause the Security Council has the primary responsibilityfor international peace and security.So it's the body that defines what the situation is aboutbut also which steps should be taken to remedy the situation.
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: And the Security Council, you have 15 countriessitting around a table.So in terms of enforcement, it's basically,within the context of intergovernmentalorganizations, the governments sitting around a table.And this also explains why, indeed,international organizations, global governance actorsare good in conceptualization because that's
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: the relatively easy part.But when it comes to implementation,this is where the national interestsand national governments are basicallytaking decisions in, I'd say, majority of the bodiesthat we have.I think global governance, if you approach it
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: as a conceptual lens, is useful for understandingalmost all international problems and issues that we seetoday because there aren't that many issues anymorethat solely dealt with by states, so to say.Often you have a complex web of actors,actions, formally, informally, public, and privatewho are dealing with specific dimensions of specific stages
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: of certain problems.That being said, I think where you see global governanceactors most prominently taking a stand, so other actorsthan the state, is within the environmental spherebecause there you have more like the ideaof a regime, various actors coming together to focusupon a certain problem.
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: So it is fear of environmental politicsbut also development politics.There you see global governance actors very prominently.You see the diversity of the actors.But the diversity is also present in moretraditional spheres, like peace and security.If you talk about security governance,again, you have the idea of a web of actors who are basically
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: involved during this world.I find it really difficult to name the single most importantthreat.I think what's threatening is the way that we as human beingsapproach our environment.
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: And this can be our natural environment but alsoour political environment.If we talk about the natural environment,it's how we proceed in terms of how we deal with oil, gas,wood, water, and so on.How do we approach these products?Do we have a long-term perspective?Do we think about sustainable development?And so on.Most of us don't.
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: So it is, for me, a very important threatbecause it also has implications for other fields,that there is an impact on migration and so on.So the way we approach natural resources,our natural environment, that willbe the most important threat for me.What I also see in recent years isthat the way that we approach our direct environment,
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: our political environment, has also been challenging.You see that quite some countriesare returning to a very traditional ideaof sovereignty, basically stressing territory, borders,national interests, and so on.And this, of course, complicates international cooperation.And also it's really difficult to put together, to combine,
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: with the idea of global governance.So it's challenging.It's threatening.But the way that we focus on our approach to the environment,directly or indirectly.I think what's really important isthe stress that global governance is nota magic formula.
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: It's not a magic tool that suddenly solves everythingand makes everybody happy.It's a system of organization.It's a complex system of organizationthat comes with pros and cons, thatcomes with winners and losers.And I think if we look at so many years of global governanceand so many years of international organizations,
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: we are really good at short-term things.We're not that good at long-term engagements.If you want to change the mindset, sofrom long-term to short-term perspectives,I think governments play a very important rolebecause they have ultimately the tools to makethis swap between short-term and long-term engagements
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: in global governance.They have the financial means.They have the operational means, for instance military means,peace-keeping forces, and so on.So I think you would have to convince governments,basically, that they have to think by takinga more long-term perspective.This is, of course, not that easyspecifically in the context of economic crisis.
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: There's not that much money available for global governanceprojects.And you can really see it that thishas an influence on how organizationsare dealing with, let say, a refugee crisis, a food crisis,and so on.Another way of approaching it would be maybeto have a look at international organizations.The number of international organizations
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: has grown over the years.There's also a lot of duplicationbetween organizations, overlap.So maybe there could be some reflectionon spending money in a more efficient wayin order to get a more long-term perspective on spendingso that you have money for long-term projects,long-term commitments, instead of the moreshort-term earmarked projects that are very common in most
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: organizations.In my opinion, global governance is not a theory but rathera conceptual lens, a conceptual lens thatallows you to get a grip on the complexity thatcharacterizes today's world.
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: I would argue that it would be useful to integrateclassical IR theories, classical IR theories,but also more modern theories in order to basically detectactors within the complex web of global governance,also relations between the actors and so on.And what I really like are those thinkersthat are willing to think outside of the box.
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: So I think I have evolved more in the direction of peoplewho take a more pragmatic stance on theory,on methodology, and so on, who are basically seeing itas a tool that helps them to organizethe research, to conduct research, and so on,rather than a dogma that you reallyhave to prove that realism is the one and only theory.So if you ask for names, that's always tricky,
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: especially when it's on tape.I would really advise students to readthe work of people like Barry Buzan,Peter Katzenstein, Robert Keohane, definitely also,if you're interested in sovereignty,the work of Andy Brown.And, of course, I doubt that anybodycan understand global governance and the state of the art
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: without reading what Thomas Weiss hasbeen writing on this topic, alone or with a coupleof co-authors.And there is a special journal basically focusingon global governance.It's named Global Governance.And there you can really see the various flavors in whichglobal governance comes and the rich tradition that
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: has been established, let's say, within the past 20 years.When you look at research on global governance,I think that there are three themes or topics of debate.The first one is global governance in itself.
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: We've mentioned before that it's not about global government.We have also said that there is a lot of confusion on what itreally is.There are many associations with the notionof global governance.So it has become a container concept.It's everything and nothing at the same time.And you see scholars who are basicallytrying to explore what global governance is about.So this is the first thing-- the idea of global governance
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: and how should we see it, but also how should we improve it.And I would call it the second big item or thing.What is the study of global governance?Global governance is not about havinga global reality of good governance for everybody.So quite some scholars are focusingon how to improve the system of global governance.And then you have the traditional questions
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: of legitimacy, representativeness,accountability, and so on.And here we see, of course, debateamong scholars on how to approach the reform question.If you look at the Security Council and the reformof the membership, there are so many ideas on how to reform it.So basically, people are convinced
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: that the system of global governance should be adapted.But there is lots of debate on how to do it specifically.And then another important, let's call it cluster or set,another important topic of debateis basically the role of specific actorswithin the complex work of global governance.
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: Because we talk about state actors, nonstate actors, NGOs,even companies, it's like a labyrinthof actors that are basically tryingto shape global governance.There is debate among scholars on who is importantand who is not.And, of course, one of the big debatesis on the role of the state.
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: And I think those would be the three main debates.Like global governance, what is it about?And you have quite some scholars who are basicallysaying we have to define this in order to take the next step.Now, you have quite some debate on howto reform the system of global governance.How should we reform?How should be adapt specific organizations,
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: specific settings, to a world that hasbecome much more multi-polar?And then the third cluster would belike scholars exploring the specific role,but also contesting the specific role, of specific actorsand then, very prominent today, the roleof the state within the system of global governance.
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: How important is methodology?I would argue that both theory and methodology areof utmost importance when you tryto get a grip on a complex topic like global governance.Both theory and methodology can be seen as, I would say,essential parts of what is a flight plan.And every researcher needs a good flight plan
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: in order to get a grip on the topic that you're researching.I think methodology can help you to organize your research,to define your research, but also to conduct your research.I'm a strong advocate of form follows function.So I think you have to select your methodology basedon the research question that you have,
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: based on the ambitions that you have with your research.That being said, I'm a strong believer alsoin the interaction between theory and practice.So I'm really trying to convince my studentsto do expert interviews or even to donon-participatory observation.I was very privileged to have been
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: able to have been part of the Security Councilwhen I was doing my research on the EU at the Security Council.And I always like to compare it to beingAlice in security wonderlandBecause when you enter the Security Council like I did,I had read almost everything that was published on the EUat the UN and the EU and the Security Council.But I still remember that I was there the first week thinking,
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: like, this is not right.But, of course, reality is never wrong.It was what was published on the EUat the Security Council that was wrong.But maybe wrong is a little bit too harsh.It was, let's say, partially defined by experiencesbut also partially defined by ideas that people had
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: about how the Security Council was working.So I would really advise people to go into the fieldbecause then you experience reallythe complexity behind global governance, all the dimensions,all the nuances, that you should take into account whenyou talk about governance in today's world.
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: So most of the time I have been doing qualitative research.And most recently, I've also taken a careful turntowards quantification.And what we're trying to do in current research is basicallycomparing the regionalization of regionswithin the context of the UN, raising the question,can we measure this.And this is something that has been inspiring more and more
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: scholars, the idea of quantification.So most scholars, I would say, are a bit moredealing with qualitative methods.But we see a careful turn, a very careful turn,towards quantification.What I find very fascinating about researching
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: global governance in recent yearsis what scholars have been doing on the regional dimensionof global governance.So we have quite some scholars focusingon the EU in various international contexts.But we see also scholars who are willing to comparethe EU with other regional actors, like the African Union,but also the OAS, and so on.
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: Because this way we can basicallysee if the EU is right.The EU is always saying we are unique.We are the example.We are the best practices of regional organization.And what I really like is that scholars are nowbasically trying to delve into these claims,trying to investigate these claims,no longer seeing the EU as one case and as one example.
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: So basically, the combination of regionalization,multilateralization, this is somethingthat I find highly fascinating.And it's in a growing group of scholarswho are basically jumping on this wagonand trying to get a grip on this.
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: What is the future of global governance?I find it's a very difficult question because Idon't have a crystal ball.I'm quite sure that we will face new and important challengesin the future.But I also hope that we have the willingness and the persistenceto think about solutions that can basicallytackle the problems that we have been facing today.
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: And I'm really looking forward to the ideasthat both scholars and practitionersand hopefully, when working together,the ideas that scholars and practitionerswill formulate in reaction to how specific countries havebeen focusing on sovereignty.So sovereignty is something that's
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: highly popular, both in the academic worldat this moment in time, also in the policy world.You see states like China, Russia,but also a set of emerging countriesthat are focusing in a very traditional wayon sovereignty-- territory, borders, and so on.You see new actors popping up, like the Islamic State,
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: very challenging for our idea on sovereignty.So I'm wondering what we will think in 10 yearstime about this time period and whatwould be our conceptual answer, at least,on how to deal with these challenges.So how do I see the future?I see new challenges, but hopefully also solutions,
EDITH DRIESKENS [continued]: because this has been the thing that wehave been seeing in the past.Even at times of crisis, like during the world wars,people started thinking again aboutinternational cooperation, international organization.And I hope that we will be able to continuethis part of progress.
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Professor Edith Drieskens discusses the ins and outs of global governance. Her explanations include what it is, what it isn't, and what it will likely become in the future.
Professor Edith Drieskens discusses the ins and outs of global governance. Her explanations include what it is, what it isn't, and what it will likely become in the future.