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The following is cross-posted from One Earth Future‘s blog, and is written by Roberta Spivak, the Managing Editor of the journal Global Governance: A Review of Multilateralism and International Organizations which is published  by Lynne Rienner Publishers in cooperation with ACUNS and One Earth Future. Subscriptions to Global Governance are obtained by becoming a member of ACUNS.

One year ago, OEF and the editorial team that we assembled were chosen by the Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS) and Lynne Rienner Publishers to guest host the journal, Global Governance from 2014-2018. We are very pleased to announce that our first issue is now available. Our intention is to promote conversations and cross-fertilization among academics and practitioners concerned with practical solutions to global problems. We hope to build on the success of the previous team to expand the journal’s global reach, and we encourage submissions from groups and scholars who have not yet been visible in the journal. The pieces in this first issue cover a broad range of topics including human rights, the responsibility to protect, and climate change but all have a common theme: How do we advance our understanding of collective action in support of real world problems?

Volume 20 Issue 1, image 1

Photo Credit: Flickr/Zack Lee

Our first issue starts out with an opinion piece by John Gerard Ruggie in the section we call “The Global Forum.” In Global Governance and “New Governance Theory”: Lessons from Business and Human Rights he applies lessons learned from his work developing the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to what he calls “New Governance Theory.” Although the General Principles do not quite constitute a “comprehensive and integrated global regime,” they do show that it is possible, “to achieve a significant degree of convergence of norms, policies, and practices even in a highly controversial issue area.” According to Ruggie, most “New Governance” scholars agree that the, “hierarchical old governance model has limited utility in dealing with many of today’s most significant global challenges. He cites the Kyoto Protocol as an example of this sort of comprehensive, legally-binding treaty that no longer works. Rather, the literature emphasizes, “responsive regulation, informal cooperation, public-private partnerships, and multistakeholder processes.”

We then move to an essay by Thomas G. Weiss and Rorden Wilkinson that was simultaneously published by Foro Internacional, a journal of El Colegio de México. According to the authors, it is meant to “provoke and promote.” In Global Governance to the Rescue: Saving International Relations? The authors build a case that that the international relations field “teeters on the edge of an abyss of irrelevance.” They admonish IR scholars for “failing as agents of change; that is, as purveyors of opinion and proposals about a better and fairer world.” They point a finger at what they believe are several key failings of IR:

  • the fragmentation into niche silos, each with its own jargon-laden language, which makes collaboration not only difficult but often undesirable
  • the inability to bridge the gap between quantitative and qualitative methodologies
  • a lack of a standardized curriculum to train the next generation
Volume 20 Issue 1, image 2

New York Times columnist, Nicolas Kristof would seem to agree. He writes: “In the late 1930s and early 1940s, one-fifth of articles in The American Political Science Review focused on policy prescriptions; at last count, the share was down to 0.3 percent.” Several academics have weighed in on this debate including our book review editor, Erica Chenoweth, who has an interesting entry point noting that it’s not just policymakers that need to be targeted. She writes, “So I agree with Kristof that we should spend more time getting the important bits of our research into the hands of people who matter. It’s just that the people who matter aren’t limited to those who write the laws of the land.”

Weiss and Wilkinson’s solution to the problem is to go back to the “table of grand disciplinary debate—by applying the not yet fully utilized concept of global governance.” Because the field of global governance is concerned with the major problems of today, the authors claim it can provide an opportunity for IR to re-focus on what really matters.

Continue reading the post at One Earth Future’s blog to learn about:

  1. Blanca Torres’ Mexico and Climate Change: Was the Country a Multilateral Leader? which explores Mexico’s self-described role, “to rebuild the capacity of the multilateral system to confront this problem” and to serve as a bridge between the entrenched positions of emerging and developing countries.
  2. Kirsten Haack’s  Breaking Barriers? Women’s Representation and Leadership at the United Nations which argues that although the UN is deeply concerned with women’s issues, it focuses on “the role of women as aid recipients or subjects in the attainment of UN goals, not as leaders in global governance.”