An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come. Victor Hugo Whenever you are in doubt, recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man. Gandhi Two dangers constantly threaten the world: order and disorder. Paul Valéry The world is for the public good, such is the Great Way. Confucius *

Dossiers and Documents : Discussion Papers : Rethinking Global Governance

Rethinking Global Governance

Introduction: From international equilibrium to global governance

Rethinking Global Governance


Arnaud Blin, Gustavo Marin ¤ 2 January 2008 ¤
Translations: Español (original) . français .

The fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, more than the shock of September 11, 2001, marked the end of a very long period in international history, that of the “balance of powers”. Since this historical event, the planet has been in a phase of geostrategic rupture. The model of “national security”, for example, even though it is still in use by the majority of governments, is being gradually replaced by an emerging collective conscience that leaves behind this overly restrictive framework.

For some – including ourselves – the future of global architecture will come into existence only through a system of global governance. Whereas before it was essentially a matter of regulating, or limiting, the individual power of states in order to avoid disequilibrium and maintain the status quo, today the equation becomes considerably more complicated. It is, hereafter, imperative to collectively shape the world’s destiny by establishing a regulatory system for the numerous interactions that bypass the State action. On the contrary, the political homogenization of the planet, brought about thanks to the arrival of so-called liberal democracy, and which comes together in many forms, would seem to facilitate the installation of a system of global governance that by-passes the “laissez-faire” attitude extolled by the liberals and the democratic peace elaborated by Emmanuel Kant.

From the 18th to the 19th century, the chief issue is one of power and equilibrium. Starting in the 19th century, nationalism emerges as the engine of international relations and it, combined with revolutionary, or reactionary, ideologies, provokes strings of war and genocide. The 19th century sees the emergence of freedom as the philosophical superstructure that nourishes both the revolutionary ideology and the development of democracy, both of which express themselves with varied outcomes in the 20th century. The 21st century is not setting out to be a religious one (even though religion has progressed as a political force) – as per the famous prophecy of André Malraux – but rather as one of equality, at least as one of equal rights — both of the states and of the people (equality making up the second philosophical chapter, with freedom, inherited from the Age of Enlightenment).

The will for equality, and the egalitarian ideology that sometimes accompanies it, simultaneously overturn the geopolitical situation — because it is the “powerful” that always determine the world’s collective destiny, and reassess globalization. In fact, globalization redistributes the cards, in a fundamentally non-egalitarian manner, to a planet for which economic growth henceforth occupies the role that previously belonged to that of political power — in other words, the primary objective that all governments want to achieve. How to reconcile this legitimate desire for equality with a reality that nips it in the bud? This is one of the questions to which we must one day find an answer.

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