Institutions of Global governance

Global governance

Students are expected to consider:

The Nature of global governance – multiple, multilevel and multi-actor process of global decision making that incorporates formal and informal processes as well as public and private bodies;

the growth of international organisation since 1945;

differences between global governance and world government (humankind united under one common authority, monopoly of legitimate use of force; ‘hard’ law; often linked to idea of world federation, etc);

the contrast between intergovernmentalism and supranationalism (advantages and disadvantages of each), etc.

The prospects for global governance – realist stance (states still dominant; states achieve goals in and through international organisations; influence of great powers); liberal view (interdependence fosters international cooperation; collective security more effective than self-help, etc).

The Main Institutions

The United Nations


The European Union

The International Monetary Fund

The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development

The World Trade Organisation

In this section we will deal only with the United Nations and NATO. The other Institutions (The EU and the INstitutions of global Economic Governance are dealt with in a separate section).

Before we proceed however it is worth also considering:

The Arab League, The African Union, the OSCE & the Organisation of American States.

We might also consider the role of TNCs (Apple, Google, Nike, McDonalds etc) and NGOs (Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Medicin San Frontiers etc) and even protest groups like Greenpeace, Anti Globalisation Protesters and even Wikileaks.

We could also consider the importance of terrorist groups such as Al Quada.

Finally we shpould consider the importance of other institutions of global economic governance and  consider the importance of NAFTA, Mercusor, ASEAN and the G8 and G20. All of these institutions, associations, corporations and campaigning groups have an influence of global governance to a greater or lesser extent.

Let us first take a look 2 PREZIS one dealing with The State and Foreign Policy and the other dealing with Power and 21st Century World Order

Let us now deal with the United Nations.

The United Nations

The main specification requirements are as follows:

Background to the UN – history and development of the UN; composition of UN and its component elements (role and composition of Security Council, General Assembly, Economic and Social Council, International Court of Justice, etc).

Performance of UN – UN’s role and performance in maintaining peace and security (peacekeeping; intervention within states, etc); UN’s economic and social role and performance (human rights, development and poverty-reduction, environment, etc);

Reforming the UN (criticisms of the UN; proposed reforms (reforming the Security Council, etc);

Advantages and disadvantages of reform), etc.

The following PREZI will examine all of these in close detail:

UN Security Council

UN Impasse over Syria

United Nations Past Paper


Explain the significance of the way in which membership of the United Nations Security Council is determined.

A thorough consideration of the question with an emphasis on the arguments about the composition of the Security Council (SC). The Permanent 5 were those major powers that existed at the end of WWII.

Arguably the power distribution has changed greatly since then and reforms need to be made which reflect the power and status of Japan and Germany, or that the EU should replace the UK and France as permanent member. Similarly India has legitimate claims for a permanent seat given its population and growing economy, and South Africa or Nigeria could be granted a permanent seat to represent Africa. But Japan’s quest for a permanent seat has caused great concern in China and S Korea.

The veto enjoyed by the P5 further complicates matters. The veto hinders the workings of the SC. Perhaps the nature of the veto itself needs to be addressed, to require 2 Permanent members to block a resolution, for example?

UNSC consensus is already difficult to achieve and extending permanent membership to India, Japan, S Africa, Brazil etc would make consensus even more problematic.

AO1: Comprehensive and detailed knowledge and understanding of the membership of the UNSC and understanding shown of the logic behind the P5 and the veto. Knowledge of plans to expand permanent status to more states and of the moves by some of the P5 to resist change. Knowledge also is illustrated of the non-permanent membership of the UNSC.

AO2: Sophisticated analysis of the significance of UNSC membership, with particular emphasis on the permanent members and their reaction to those nation states that are determined to gain permanent membership.

Why have there been calls for the reform of the UN Security Council?

Calls for the reform of the UN Security Council have been made on a number of grounds, including the following:

The fact that the fifteen-member Security Council is composed of five permanent members (the USA, the UK, France, China and Russia) and ten non- permanent members violates the principle of equality among states and therefore helps to perpetuate the great-power system.

The veto powers enjoyed by the permanent members of the Security Council has been subject to criticism because it concentrates power in the hands of just five countries, giving them a broad range of control over the rest of the UN system.

The composition of the permanent members is widely criticised as being out- dated, reflecting the great-power system of 1945 rather than the distribution of global power in the twenty-first century.

While the inclusion of the UK and France in particular has been controversial, calls have been made for the inclusion of new permanent members, such as Brazil, South Africa, Nigeria and so on.

‘The history of UN peacekeeping has been a history of failure.’ Discuss.

UN peacekeeping has had a controversial history, especially due to its resurgence from the 1990s onwards.

Critics have drawn attention to dramatic peacekeeping failures, such as those in Bosnia and Rwanda where the UN stood by and failed to prevent mass slaughter and genocide.

Other UN peacekeeping operations have been weak or ineffective because of inadequate resources, poor training and, often, confused or ill-defined missions.

The problems in this respect have included an unwillingness by the Security Council to provide clear guidance for UN intervention and the often highly complex nature of the post-conflict situations that the UN seeks to deal with.

On the other hand, a significant number of UN-led peacekeeping operations have succeeded in keeping the peace and even, sometimes, in promoting democracy.

This particularly applies because of the advent of multi-dimensional peacekeeping, or peace-building, which recognises that peacekeeping is not merely a military operation but has important political, social and economic dimensions, aimed, ultimately, at state-building.

At an operational level, the UN is clearly more appropriate than any other body in carrying out small-scale peacekeeping, the provision of humanitarian aid and the monitoring of elections.

 The UN is now an outdated body.’ Discuss.

The United Nations (UN) was set up at the end of World War II to maintain peace and security amongst states, the successor to the League of Nations.

However, the UN has attracted a great deal of criticism, often based on the belief that it is an outdated body. Such criticisms fail to take account of how the UN has adapted and developed since 1945.

There have been various allegations that the UN is outdated.

Considerable criticism has focused on the make-up of the Security Council, which continues to reflect the great power politics of 1945, with the USA, Russia, China, the UK and France being permanent members with veto powers.

Pressure to reform the Security Council has grown considerably, with suggestions that new permanent members should include either major economic powers and significant UN contributors such as Japan and Germany, or rising states that can represent a broader range of continents such as Brazil and South Africa.

The UN has also been criticised because its budgetary position has historically been based on the ability to pay, creating tensions within and between the global North and the global South.

Considerable resentment has grown up in the USA, the largest contributor to all the UN’s budgets, as it is confronted by a General Assembly in which all states have equal voting rights.

On the other hand, this budgetary imbalance has led to allegations that economically developed states are more favourably dealt with by the UN.

A further line of criticism is that the UN largely operates as an intergovernmental body, which has very few means of enforcing its decisions and bringing transgressors into line. In that sense, the UN was formed by great powers that did not want it to develop the kind of authority which might limit their freedom of manoeuvre in the future.

In an interconnected world in which challenges increasingly have a transnational if not global dimension, such weak intergovernmentalism may no longer be appropriate. This has been illustrated by the Rwandan genocide of 1994 and by difficulties in the UN carrying out its peacekeeping role.

On the other hand, the UN can also be defended.

In relation to peacekeeping, its primary limitations are not so much internal as ones that stem from the politics of great power rivalry.

Nevertheless, after the end of the Cold War the UN supported the trend towards humanitarian intervention, responding to the rise of interdependence and underlining the importance of human rights in global politics.

Indeed, the UN has remained remarkably up-to-date in its willingness to expand its agenda and broaden its concerns, especially in relation to economic and social questions.

This can be seen in global conferences that have been arranged to address pressing problems such as the environment and development (Rio, 1992), human rights (Vienna, 1993), population (Cairo, 1994), women’s issues (Beijing, 1995) and so on.

The UN makes a major contribution to facilitating co- operation on development issues, by, for examples, its Human Development Reports and, since 2000, by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

In these ways, the UN, despite limited resources, has responded to a growing sense of interdependence and the globalisation of human concerns.

To what extent is the UN effective in ensuring peace and security?

The maintenance of international peace and security is the central aim of the United Nations, with responsibility being placed in the hands of the Security Council.

The UN can be seen to be effective in promoting peace and security for a number of reasons, including the following:

The decisions of the Security Council are binding on all member states. Through the Security Council, the UN can define and respond to security threats and enforce its decisions through mandatory directives to UN members.

Peacekeeping, involving the establishment of a UN force under UN command in post- ceasefire circumstances, has been used since 1956 in places such as Suez, Cyprus and the Golan Heights.

During the 1990s there was a rapid expansion in UN peacekeeping operations, with the development of classical peacekeeping into multidimensional peacekeeping, sometimes called peacebuilding or peace enforcement.

This was in line with the report, An Agenda for Peace (1992) and reflected an increase in humanitarian intervention.

However, the UN’s performance in these areas has also been criticised for a number of reasons. These include the following:

The UN Security Council has often been paralysed as a result of great power disagreement.

Concerted action to ensure peace and international security have therefore been the exception rather than the rule.

This particularly applied during the Cold War period when the Security Council was paralysed by US-Soviet hostility. However, great power rivalry has somewhat reduced since the end of the Cold War.

UN peacekeeping operations have widely been criticised. In some cases, the UN has effectively stood by as massacres and genocide have occurred.

In other cases, peacekeeping forces have been ill-equipped and under-resourced to deal complex situations shaped by ethnic strife and breakdown of civil order.

Peacekeeping mandates have also been unclear. The proliferation in peacekeeping operations is not, therefore, necessarily evidence of their success.

NATO: The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation

The specification requires that you develop a knowledge and understanding of the following:

Traditional role of NATO (creature of Cold War, etc);

The changing role and significance of NATO (implications of end of Cold War; peacekeeping and humanitarian intervention;

NATO beyond Europe (Afghanistan);

NATO’s expansion into eastern Europe (implications for relations between Russia and the West), etc.

Once again the following Prezi will deal with all of these matters in detail

UNIT THREE REVISION BY TOPIC: Conflict, War and Power Questions.

War, Conflict, Hard Power, Soft Power and NATO Questions

Short Answer Questions

Why do realists believe that global politics is characterised by conflict? (15 Marks)

Realists argue that global politics is biased in favour of conflict both because of the nature of states (or other global actors) and because of the implications of the international system.

For realists, states are the principal actors in international or world politics, and, being sovereign, they act as autonomous entities.

The primary motive driving state action is the pursuit of power and self-interest, usually explained by reference to human nature (human beings are viewed as selfish, greedy and power- seeking creatures).

International relations are therefore inevitably characterised by power politics, with power usually understood in terms of military capacity or force, the ability to impose their will on others or to resist aggression of fellow states.

Realists believe that all states are motivated by such power-seeking tendencies, regardless of their constitutional character.

A tendency towards conflict also stems from the dynamics of the international system itself. Anarchy reigns in the international system because there is no authority higher than the sovereign state.

However, anarchy forces states to adopt a strategy of self-help. As no other body or actor can ensure their security, states are forced to ensure their own security. The international system is therefore characterised by suspicion, fear and insecurity, creating an irresistible tendency towards conflict and competition.

This is made worse by the security dilemma, in which a defensive military build-up by one state is depicted as potentially or actually aggressive by another state, leading to an arms race, growing hostility and the likelihood of war.

What is ‘soft’ power, and why has it become more important in recent years? (15 Marks)

Soft power is the ability to influence other actors by persuading them to follow or agree to norms and aspirations that produce the desired behaviour. It contrasts with ‘hard’ power, in which power is exercised through threats or rewards, typically involving the use of military ‘sticks’ or economic ‘carrots’.

Soft power operates through intangible factors such as the popularity of a state’s values and institutions and its moral standing in the world.

Although there is debate about the relative significance of ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ power, it is often argued that soft power has generally become more important in the modern world.

This is seen as a consequence of the growth of global interdependence and freer flows of communication and information.

Interdependence encourages states to achieve goals by working together, ‘soft’ power being particularly effective in facilitating co-operation.

‘Soft’ power is most often associated with the rise of globalisation and the establishment of ‘complex interdependence’.

Why do liberals believe that global politics tends towards cooperation rather than conflict? (15 Marks)

Liberals believe that global politics is biased in favour cooperation for a number of reasons, including the following:

Liberals believe that the principle of balance applies to international affairs, and that it is reflected in the overlapping interests of states.

Cooperation amongst states is encouraged by economic interdependences, particularly in the form of international trade, which also helps to promote general prosperity.

The trend towards democracy also promotes cooperation and reduces the incidence of war because democratic states share the same culture and values.

The trend towards global governance supports cooperation among states by establishing norms and increased trust, helping to facilitate rule-governed behaviour.

What is the balance of power, and how effective is it in preventing war? (15 Marks)

The balance of power can be defined in a variety of different ways, including the following:

An even distribution of power between rival power blocs.

The existing distribution of power, which may be even or uneven. A policy designed to achieve an even or more even balance of power.

An inherent tendency in international politics to produce an even distribution of power.

Views about the capacity of the balance of power to prevent war diverge, however:

Realists argue that the balance of power is the surest, and perhaps only, guarantee that war can be avoided.

Its value is that an even distribution of power, whether brought about naturally or as a consequence of statecraft, prevents the triumph of dominant powers.

Powers will be deterred from attacking others only if they have reason to believe they will be unsuccessful.

Liberals, on the other hand, believe that the balance of power merely legitimises state egoism and fosters the growth of military power.

In this view, the balance of power is a cause of intensifying tension and possibly war, based upon a mind-set of competition, rivalry and distrust.

How do realists explain the tendency within the international system towards war? (15 marks)

Realists explain the tendency within the international system towards war in a number of ways.

Classical realists believe that war is, sooner or later, inevitable both because of non-rational and often aggressive drives that are intrinsic to human nature and because if states pursue the national interest they will inevitably come into conflict with one another.

Neorealists argue that the tendency towards war can largely be explained by imbalances in the international system that encourage states to believe that they can prosper by taking military action against other states, because there is little prospect of their being defeated or humiliated.

This is particularly argued by offensive realists who believe that states are motivated by the desire to maximise power, and not merely security, implying that war amongst great powers in particular is unavoidable.

Explain how the role of NATO has changed since the end of the Cold War. (15 marks)

NATO’s initial purpose was to act as a deterrent against the threat posed by the Soviet Union and its Eastern bloc satellite states, whose collective military alliance was the Warsaw Pact.

The end of the Cold War has, however, forced NATO to find a new role. This has involved establishing itself as a force for European and global peacemaking and crisis management, as has applied, for example, in former- Yugoslavia.

This has also seen NATO expand its involvement beyond the North Atlantic area, particularly through its association with the ‘war on terror’ and its command of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

Finally, NATO has been involved in redefining relations between the USA and its western allies and post-communist Russia, partly through extending NATO membership to former-communist states and through the idea of missile defence.

Distinguish, using examples, between ‘hard’ power and ‘soft’ power.

Hard power is the ability of one actor to influence another through the use of threats or rewards, typically involving military ‘sticks’ or economic ‘carrots’.

This is power as compulsion or as inducement. Soft power, by contrast, is power as attraction or identification.

It is the ability to influence other actors by persuading them to follow or agree to norms and aspirations that produce the desired behaviour.

Soft power operates largely through culture, political ideals and foreign policies.

The examples of hard and soft power should be accurate and help to explain or illustrate the differences between the two.

Essay Questions

‘Military power is now largely obsolete in global politics.’ Discuss. (45 marks)

Military power has traditionally been viewed as the chief currency of international politics. However, some argue that it has become redundant for a variety of reasons, these include the following:

Military power is redundant because large-scale high-intensity conflict has disappeared in many parts of the world, linked to the expansion of democratic ‘zones of peace’.

There has been a general shift from war to trade, as globalisation has increased economic interdependence and encouraged states to advance national prosperity through strategies of increased competitiveness.

Many wars appear to be unwinnable because of the wider use of strategies of terrorism, insurrection and guerrilla warfare, meaning that economically-dominant powers can no longer easily get their way through military might.

On the other hand, military power has been viewed as of enduring significance, for reasons including the following:

War is endless, as realist theorists argue, implying that military power remains the only sure guarantee of a state’s survival and security.

The irresolvable security dilemma means that fear and uncertainty will always persist in international affairs.

New security challenges have emerged, notably terrorism, that cannot be contained by non-military means alone.

Military power has increasingly been used for ethical purposes, notably to facilitate humanitarian intervention and to support peacekeeping and peacebuilding initiatives.

The intellectual skills that are relevant to this question are as follows:

The ability to analyse and explain how and why military power is used.

The ability to evaluate the significance of military power in modern global politics.

Are war and international conflict inevitable features of global politics? (45 Marks)

The question about the inevitability of conflict and war in global politics has long been a matter of theoretical debate and discussion.

It is perhaps the key issue that has divided realism from liberalism or idealism.

Realist theorists have argued that conflict and war are permanent characteristics of international or global politics.

Most basically, people are viewed as narrowly selfish and ethically flawed, intent on achieving self-advantage regardless of others. A lust for power and a desire to dominate others is an ineradicable feature of human nature.

This implies that international politics boils down to a struggle for power, in Hobbes’s words, ‘a war of all against all’.

The primary objective of every state is to promote its national interests, trying to achieve relative gains in the international system.

International politics is thus, inevitably, a form of power politics, with war being used as an instrument of state policy.

This tendency is strengthened by the anarchical character of the global system, in which, with no power standing above the sovereign state, states being forced to rely on self-help to achieve security in a context of mutual fear, suspicion and hostility.

The dynamics of this anarchical system make long-term stability and international co-operation difficult, and perhaps impossible, to achieve.

However, stability and peace can be achieved for temporary periods through the maintenance of a balance of power.

Liberal theorists, on the other hand, believe that global politics can be characterised by harmony and co-operation, meaning that conflict and war occur for very specific reasons and are not inevitable.

At the core of liberalism is a belief in reason and the possibility of progress.

As individuals are moral creatures and not merely power-seeking ones, liberals believe that international and global politics can conform to ethical principles rather than merely power politics.

They believe that conflict and war can be contained in at least three ways.

First, free trade helps to establish economic interdependence between and amongst states, making war perhaps unthinkable and building international understanding between trading partners.

International institutions can also be forged to ensure an international rule of law, helping to replace unstable balance-of-power politics with a system of collective security.

Democratic government also reduces the tendency towards war, particularly as democratic states are accustomed to using compromise and negotiation to resolve disputes.

Conflict and war may nevertheless occur, but they are usually associated with factors such as the rise of economic nationalism or the existence of authoritarian rule or imperial structures.

The limits of ‘hard’ power are evident in the ’war on terror’, in which an emphasis on military force and unilateralism weakened the USA’s ‘soft’ power in terms of its ability to build a wider coalition of support within and beyond the Moslem world.


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