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Dossiers and Documents : Discussion Papers : Non-state Actors and World Governance

Non-state Actors and World Governance

The concept of governance regimes adapted to the different types of goods and services

Non-state Actors and World Governance


Pierre Calame ¤ 2 June 2008 ¤
Translations: français (original) . Español . 中文 .

Evoking the evolution of the theory of governance, I have already underlined the necessity to analyze public goods as the result of the associative co-production of the different parties involved. But it is also necessary to add that the nature of this co-production varies depending on the type of goods or public services: heavy infrastructures, health, Internet, education, protection of the seas and development of sustainable production outsourcing correspond to different models of co-operation. It is what Bertrand de la Chapelle rightly calls the different regimes of governance. In the coming years, the challenge is to learn how to build, on a global scale, multi-actor regulations adapted for each problem.

The example of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) is interesting in this respect. As we have seen, the development of Internet was mainly implemented by non-state actors, although many states would like to reclaim control. Certain states find it unacceptable that domain names continue to be assigned by a private organization, whereas Internet has become, in a few years, as an essential world public good. Other states, in particular the authoritarian regimes, see the Internet as a subversive element, and wish to control its access and contents. As for enterprises, they would love to introduce Internet in the commercial sphere, while many non-state actors continue to be true to the libertarian and mutualist spirit which presided the origins of the Internet. A new space was created so that the three parties involved can negotiate. It has already pushed a solution during the WSIS for the thorny and theoretically unsolvable question of the representativity of non-state actors.

In the construction of these different regimes of governance, non-state actors play an essential role, as we have seen regarding inhabitants, peasants or fishermen so that population sectors directly concerned by the negotiation, but usually left out of official negotiations, can have a voice in the chapter. Whatever may be the ambiguities of the theory on “participation of the population”, it is undeniable that non-state actors have played an important role in the organization of society, particularly of women and peasants, in order to have a voice in the chapter.

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