Globalization & Global Governance Research Paper Starter

Globalization & Global Governance

(Research Starters)

The goal of global governance is to uncover international and cooperative solutions to problems and conflicts that transcend nation states. In a decentralized world, international politics knows no world-government or single power to steer the agenda of global politics. The League of Nations was hoped to serve as a forum for the peaceful settlement of international conflict. Equipped with its own power to execute security politics, the United Nations can, in theory, actively promote security and conflict resolution. Today, multinational corporations and Global NGOs enter into formal and informal structures that transcend state government levels and negotiate legal and procedural regimes that are case-specific amongst one another.

Keywords Assemblages; Biological Citizenship; Biopolitics; Consumerism; Governmentality; Non-Gevernmental Organization (NGO); Political-Industrial-Military Complex; United Nations

Global Stratification: Globalization


Governing the world is not necessarily a centralized affair. Idealist scholars once thought of a single institution that could function as a world-government. The first of these, the League of Nations, was founded after the First World War and instituted in the wake of the Treaty of Versailles in 1920. It had 58 members in 1934.

It was hoped that the promotion of world security would lead to a disarmament movement in the face of the horrors of the World War's trench-line battles and use of chemical weapons. It was also hoped that the League would serve as a forum for the peaceful settlement of international conflict. Eventually the Fascist Governments Actions in occupying neighboring countries laid open the ineffectiveness of a political institution that had no executive authority over the nations that comprised its members. The Allied Powers agreed in 1943 that a new institution had to follow once the war was over, and the United Nations (UN) was born while the Second World War was still raging. The League of Nations was dissolved in 1946 and many of its committees and organizations were transferred or affiliated with the UN. Despite its failings and eventual dissolution, the League represented a milestone in international development and the dawn of global governance.

The idea for the UN was initiated by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and US President Franklin Roosevelt in 1942. The UN was founded in 1945 in San Francisco with 50 members and several "non-governmental organizations" (NGO) participating. The United Nations is a different animal in various respects. It can pass legitimate international law, has its own Forces and can enforce sanctions. Its members include basically every independent nation-state that is mutually recognized as such, making up its 192 member states.

The peacekeeping and security functions that the UN is assigned are backed up by a limited power to actually intervene with force, which distinguishes it largely from its predecessor, a "tiger without teeth." Even if recent bickering in the Security Council has displayed that the administrative set-up is not yet perfect. It should be understood that the United Nations is not a world government and was never designed to be; nor is this organization equipped to handle such a task.

3 Global Developments

It has been argued that we are currently facing three diverging developments.

1). The myth of the powers of the state. It has been argued that in the face of increased competition for creating and attracting jobs in emerging industries, a renewed importance of the nation-state and increased isolationism will be guiding international politics. Therefore states with the power to create the local conditions (taxes, education and training of labor-force, traffic systems for resource distribution, and energy) for multinational corporations will regain a powerful role in the 21st century (Strange, 1996).

2). The retreat of the state. However, it has also been argued that the same developments will render state-governments powerless and the same will happen with the international institutions they use to confer with one another. Multinational corporations and Global NGOs will enter into formal and informal structures that transcend state government levels and negotiate legal and procedural regimes that are case-specific amongst one another (Strange, 1996).

3). The myth of the retreat of the state. A third alternative has been recently suggested in the face of 2007/8 financial market breakdowns. In the recent crises, national governments have been called upon to accomplish two tasks: to bailout the markets locally, despite the global interdependencies, and to re-introduce regulations to re-enable markets to function.

The prior two alternatives depend on continued market-development without interruption. But the local crisis in the financial sector is no longer local, because the web of dependencies in the global economy has become so dense that the ripples of crises reach the entire world. Once a crisis has emerged to a level at which corporations are no longer in control, the last entities that are big enough to offer relief are national state governments (Soerensen 2004).

Further Insights


Both the League of Nations and the United Nations were actually founded on ideas first elucidated by Immanuel Kant in his writings on history and in his work, "Perpetual Peace." These ideas have been repeatedly criticized throughout history by conservatives as too-far reaching and romantically ideal, and by leftist critics as not going far enough. Many liberal and democratic supporters of ideas of world democracy as well as some of their staunchest critics like Robert Kagan (2003) and David Jones (2005) have, however, actually gravely misconstrued Kant, who never promoted world government of the sort that is imagined by some idealistic scholars. Kant distrusted the idea of democracy while promoting a strong republicanism. The German philosopher Juergen Habermas is one of the strongest proponents of the idea of world democracy. He is as often criticized and misunderstood as Kant himself, although Habermas is not free from equating democracy with Republicanism.

Democracy is the rule of the demos (the people). Republicanism, for Kant, is the rule of law. Kant deeply distrusted the people to be able to support the rule of law. H argued that the execution of legislation requires a high level of education and emotional restraint that masses of people do not display, as the masses can be emotionally swayed to promote irrational causes.

Habermas, on the other hand, thinks that only through education can people be enabled to participate rationally in public discourse and only through public discourse can law attain legitimacy. Law must above all enable participation and subsequently, the education of the people towards participation. In this circular conception lies Habermas' equation of Republicanism and Democracy which Kant would not have supported.

Still, his interpretation of Kant is nonetheless very insightful. Kant, Habermas asserts, formulates but an ideal or a goal towards which we should be striving: This goal is the abolition of war: "The desire for such a peace, is founded for Kant in the cruelties of all kinds from this breed of war, as led by the mercenary armies for the European Dukes in those times" (1995). Therefore Kant's definition of peace is to limit war in itself, respectively the kind of war that was actually led in his times.

Habermas includes present problems in his deliberations, arguing for reforming international institutions such as the United Nations in order to create the means of developing strategies to cope with the problems of our era. In 1995 he clearly stated those to be "dangers arising from ecological imbalances, asymmetries in welfare and economic power, High-Tech, arms-trade, in particular the proliferation of WMDs, thru terrorism, drug-related crimes, etc. seem to be obvious" (Habermas, 1995).


Kant developed a clear distinction between Völkerbund and Völkerstaat. Völkerstaat would constitute a true World-state, which Kant had considered to be impractical and impossible to realize. Völkerbund is a contractual Federation of independent and sovereign states, that would simply agree to mutual dismantling of the means of war in their dealings amongst one another. However, as both Kagan...

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