Henceforth, our country should be the universe. Flora Tristan True peace is not merely the absence of tension, it is the presence of justice. Martin Luther King, Jr. . . . for with freedom come responsibilities. Nelson Mandela Two dangers constantly threaten the world: order and disorder. Paul Valéry *

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

Non-state Actors and World Governance

Finding better articulations among scales of governance, from the local to the global

Non-state Actors and World Governance


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

No modern world problem can be addressed on only one scale. Energy problems go from individual behavior to international negotiations. Healthcare issues go from eating habits to the international fight against AIDS or the main infectious diseases. Education pertains to the behavior of families regarding young children as it does to the International Organisation of Higher Education. Non-state actors, as previously explained on expertise, enjoy a considerable advantage in this respect as they can provoke “short-circuits” between local and global scales. Public systems are hindered by a traditional conception of governance which associates each problem to the “right scale” of governance to manage it: which affects local communities, states, transnational levels such as the EU, all the way up to a global scale. This division of governance in circles has become counterproductive. The principle of active subsidiarity defines the rules of articulation between scales of governance. The rules are thus based upon an intensive exchange of experiences and upon the construction of the obligation of results reflecting the lessons learned from this exchange. This principle will become, after the years, a major reference of public governance. But it is necessary to affirm that we are not there yet and that only the non-state actors have sufficient independence to break through the circles of competences. If we take the example of health, the WHO is not prepared to organize real exchanges of experiences between base actors because the International Organisation would enter in conflict with state competences. Non-state actors do not have this type of constraint. This comparative advantage is still not sufficiently used. This is one of the great future perspectives to develop in the coming years.

In conclusion, there are undeniably some limited domains, where the states dispose of a regulation monopoly although non-state actors generally work in equal terms with states in order to conceive and implement world governance, inspired in the general principles of governance. Despite the undeniable progress, non-state actors have not exploited all their responsibilities.

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