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Global Governance and the Elements Associated With It

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New Dimensions on Global Governance

The concept of global governance crystallises and complicates one’s understanding of the global political economy as transparency and ambiguity reign over the global political economy. (Rosenau 1995) quotes that “to anticipate the prospects of global governance … is to discern powerful tensions, profound contradictions, and perplexing paradoxes. It is to search for order in disorder, for coherence in contradiction and for continuity in change… (in) authorities that are obscure, boundaries that are in flux and systems of rule that are emergent.” The concept of governance is also a very problematized term since traditionally it was never truly inclusive since its orientation is centred on the U.S. and the developed countries. The Council of Rome defines governance as the command mechanism of a social system …to provide security, prosperity, coherence, order and continuity to the system. In broadest application, it includes not only national and international systems, but also encompasses local and regional social structures with a focus on issues of sectoral development such as education, health, military, business and family (Rosenau 1995).

Global governance has been employed in wide and variable contexts which cast many ambiguities over the term as it relates to the global political economy. Global governance as used by several academics and international professionals denotes “a complex set of structures both public and private, while more popular writers tend to use it synonymously with government” (Weiss 2000). As a consequence, the unskilled application of the concept blurs any clear definition of it, making it hopelessly vague (Bernstein 2010). (Overbeek 2005) concurs, observing that the often used concept of global governance is seldom clear, obscuring the very character of governance. In addition, Lawrence Finkelstein confirms the fuzzy and deceptive confusion asserting that “we say governance because we don’t really know what to call what is going on” (Finkelstein 1995, Kumar 2010). Another confounding element of global governance is that concept usage divorced from historicity usually leads to further misunderstanding. Marx affirms that most abstract concepts although valid are derived from a series of historic relations and are most effective and understood when rightly contextualised (Overbeek 2005)

In addition to the innate nebulosity of global governance, the multidisciplinary interlinkages and interdependencies have heavily complicated the concept. The plurality, heterogeneity and intricate networks of postmodernity obfuscate the term to include so many elements. As (Kumar 2011) comments, “there is no single organising principle on which global governance rests… no emergent order around which communities and nations are likely to converge…it is the sum of myriad control mechanisms driven by different histories, goals structures and processes having multiple dimensions.”

Even the field of global political economy or IPE which traditionally and initially encompassed six aspects: international trade, international finance, North-South relations, Multinational corporations (MNCs), hegemony and globalisation now embraces innumerable interests and concerns. Furthermore, the optimal mode of analysis of the IPE problématique is to follow a complex approach: multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary point of view (Veseth 2002). Resulting from the dynamics of globalisation, the spiralling of knowledge patterns, movement of goods and services and the proliferation of non-governmental organisations and lobby groups have all generated a cumulative and inextricable interdependence. Through cooperation (collective and linked activity based on shared identity and goals), global governance is so multifaceted as to embody both formal institutions and informal, ad-hoc arrangements and civil society groupings, several laws and best practice guidelines and conventions, with both state and non-state focus. At the same time, the implications of this all-inclusiveness in the realm of global governance are targeted towards greater legitimacy, accountability, transparency, efficiency and democracy. Aiming to wealth re-distribution, power sharing and institutional reform, global governance is being continuously reconfigured in conformity with the changing times. Indeed “the concept of global governance focuses on the complex interlinkages between different societal actors and governmental institutions” (Dingwerth 2006) therefore novel patterns of global governance needed to emerge for progress and continuity to be maintained for a constantly evolving reality (Dingwerth 2006; Ciceo 2010)

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