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Non-state Actors and World Governance

¤ Summary
¤ Non-state actors have always played an essential role in global regulation, but their role will grow considerably in this, the beginning of the twenty-first century.
Non-state actors have always been important in world governance

¤ The theory of governance places growing importance on the role of non-state actors at every level of regulation
¤ In the modern-day world, non-state actors face ever-increasing opportunities, which are often difficult for them to take up
¤ Non-state actors, due to their vocation, size, flexibility, methods of organization and action, interact with states on a level playing field
¤ Non-state actors play a key role in governance in different domains
¤ For a better understanding and development of the role of non-state actors, the latter should be studied in conjunction with the general principles of governance.
A legitimacy based on objectives, values, and methods

¤ Elements of democracy and of world citizenship
¤ The ability to design better institutional schemes
¤ The concept of governance regimes adapted to the different types of goods and services
¤ Finding better articulations among scales of governance, from the local to the global


A- Non-state actors have always played an essential role in global regulation, but their role will grow considerably in this, the beginning of the twenty-first century.

1) Non-state actors have always been important in world governance.

2) Developments in the theory of governance places growing importance on the role of non-state actors at every level of regulation.

3) In the modern-day world, non-state actors face ever-increasing opportunities, which are often difficult for them to assume.

4) Non-state actors, due to their vocation, size, flexibility, methods of organization and action, interact with states in an equal manner; however this does not mean that their action is better adapted.
- 4.1. Some non-state actors have an international vocation.
- 4.2 The size of non-state actors is similar to that of many states.
- 4.3 Non-state actors have more flexibility than states.
- 4.4 Non-state actors’ organization is better suited for the realities of the world.
- 4.5 They have a better command of the Internet.
- 4.6 Non-state actors are in a good situation to be influential.

B- Non-state actors play a key role in world governance in different domains

1) Security and defense
2) International cooperation
3) Economy
4) Commerce
5) The Information society
6) Health
7) Environment

C- To get a better understanding of the role of non-state actors and develop it, it should be studied in conjunction with the general principles of governance.

1) Legitimacy based on objectives, values, and methods.

2) The elements of democracy and of world citizenship.

3) The ability to design better institutional arrangements.
- 3.1. A more global approach to governance.
- 3.2. Contribution to the emergence of a world community.
- 3.3. The combination of different regulatory modes.
- 3.4. The ability to get all the different parties around the table.
- 3.5. An efficient evaluation system.

4) The conception of regimes of governance adapted to the different types of goods and services.

5) The possibility of better articulating scales of governance, from local to global.


Non-state actors have always played an essential role in global regulation, but their role will grow considerably in this, the beginning of the twenty-first century.
Non-state actors have always been important in world governance

The issue of the role of non-state actors in international regulation is not new, but with growing interdependency it takes on a new dimension. Throughout history, states have been far from being the drivers, and even less so the sole promoters of new international regulation. We could even go as far as to say that the conception of international action is determined and limited by the conception of the state itself.

The model that emerged in Europe after the Renaissance, whose main characteristics were established by the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, was solely based on national interest. Any foray across national borders has always been driven by national interest: whether it be to conquer new territories, to defend existing borders or to acquire new territories to control their natural resources imperialistically. This means that not only do states not have the monopoly on international action and the implementation of the transnational regulations necessary to manage interdependencies, but moreover from the moment they engage in international regulation, they meet a major political and philosophical obstacle.

The genetic characteristics of the Westphalian State, although historically defined to serve more or less absolute monarchies, have been reinforced rather than weakened by the quasi-generalized spread of democratic regimes: To the state’s genetic nature we must add the nature of the governed: citizens are concerned by local and national interests; in electing their leaders they find their interests are taken beyond national borders and where this is the case they prefer to act through non-state, not for profit organizations.

The fundamental Nation-State model is based on international agreements with clearly defined objectives of common interest, and not on abandoning sovereignty for the benefit of entities which transcend national interests.

The European Union, whose evolution no doubt benefited from the trauma of the Second World War and the acknowledgment that categorical defense of national interests lead to collective suicide, is at present the only existing historic model that validates the possibility of surpassing sovereignty.

Historically, it is the non-state actors that have doggedly crossed national boundaries: This is true in an economic context, for example the West Indies Companies of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and colonial undertakings of the nineteenth century; it is also true for movements like the Red Cross, the anti-torture movements, the abolition of slavery, or even the promotion of international institutions such as the League of Nations, the UN or even the construction of Europe. (For example, if we think about the role of the Congress of The Hague, celebrating its 60th anniversary this year).

The role of non-governmental organizations in the United Nations’ current activities is so important, whether in lobbying, research, political analysis or in contributions to ideas and new information, that Richard Jolly and his colleagues do not hesitate to talk about “United Nations no 3”. This United Nations is made up of non-governmental organizations, while The General Assembly is the “United Nations No. 1” and the agencies secretariat are “The United Nations No. 2”. [1]

To think again in historical terms about our societies’ capacity to widen their horizons, we must consider both the development of commercial exchanges and the spread of ideas and convictions. Entrepreneurs and traders generally built the first bridges between civilizations: with the route to the Indies and the creation of trading posts. Religions, in particular the Christian religions and Islam were the first international institutions, each bearing an ideology on the world and on humanity according to its structure: The hierarchy of the Catholic Church and the decentralization of the Protestant Churches and the different Muslim communities.

The model of the Greek city-state expanded following Alexander the Great’s conquests during the development of the Ancient Greek civilization across vast territories. In Europe, traveling doctors and architects from the Middle Ages and philosophers from the Age of Enlightenment promoted the exchange of ideas beyond national borders.

The relationship between state and non-state institutions is always complex. Colonial commercial companies have little benefit from national protection. The relationship between worldly and spiritual powers in Islam and Christian religions has often been very close. It is the combination of the Age of Enlightenment and the conquests of Napoleon and then, in the nineteenth century the combination of military conquests and the spread of new ideas and ideologies which interwove international relations.

Closer to our time, the role of large American foundations has always been significant. From the beginning of the twentieth century when Andrew Carnegie and John Rockefeller created the first modern foundations they have had a large impact on the American and international political stages. In the specific case of the context of the United States, relationships between foundations and politics have always been very close, so much so that in 1969 the United States Congress enacted a law restricting the political activities of private foundations. These political activities were in part replaced by think-tanks. In one way or another, American foundations have played an important part in spreading the American model, be it in a positive light particularly during the Cold War or more conflictively as is the case today. Having understood the limits of state action, certain foundations have become more independent and now hold their own international agenda.

From this first point we should retain that the role of non-state actors in the development of international regulation is as old as civilization and surpasses the role of the state. Cross-border relationships have always been the result of a combination of non-state actors together with state intervention.


[1Annual Report of the Foundation Center, 2005

The theory of governance places growing importance on the role of non-state actors at every level of regulation

In analyzing regulation implemented by societies to ensure their survival and long-term development – which is the basis of the general definition of governance – is it impossible to isolate what is happening on the world stage from what is happening at other levels. Their development derives from the same changes in social realities and ideologies.

Therefore, no matter what the level of governance, a new vision has gradually come into being in the last fifty years: coproduction of public goods. Moreover, it is this evolution that has largely lead to the use, albeit controversial, of the term “governance”

In many countries, especially those adhering to Protestantism, state intervention has always been considered subsidiary to other forms of intervention. Family responsibility, community commitment and local administration are prioritized before public intervention, the very meaning of the word subsidiary. The latter should only be called upon when other levels of intervention have proved powerless. This is the definition of the confederation model, inspired by Germanic societies, in which the confederation level is theoretically a temporary delegation of power to a superior sphere for functions such as defense or international relations which cannot be addressed at a lower scale. At least… theoretically, similar to permanent taxation, born in Western civilization from temporary taxes linked to war efforts, and afterwards made permanent.

In monarchies and Catholic countries, mainly of Roman influence, public goods were provided by the King or Church and it was from this monopoly that the areas in which families and local communities could act were defined. The French Revolution did not change the fundamental aspects of this concept of governance. The people replaced the King and the state replaced the Church but in each case, the monopoly of power was maintained. From an absolutist point of view, the implication of non-state actors in public goods has always been seen as subordinate or with suspicion. It is not surprising in these countries to see taxation over voluntary contributions and associative movements being financially dependent on the state or territorial entities. Foundations are considered with suspicion as they may present a competitive threat (a private entity which claims to provide public goods and who, on top of this claims fiscal benefits!) This easily explains the difference in the number of foundations in Protestant and Catholic countries. China, as is demonstrated by its growing number of non governmental associations, is quite close to the French model. The Chinese Government is encouraging development of the tertiary sector to take on functions that neither the State nor the Communist Party can or are willing to assume. These are primarily social functions, but the development of associations is very strictly organized and each association is under the control of a Ministry; in the same way as in France for example, the foundations that are so called ‘for the public good’.

Over time these contrasting models, one that we could label as confederation and the other as centralized, have become more alike than discourse would have us think. As no problem can be addressed at one single level of governance confederate and federal states have therefore seen their central administration strengthened. At the same time, the majority of centralized regimes have undergone policies of decentralization. The co production of public goods using different actors is becoming increasingly favored and clearly cooperation between different actors is essential to this objective. This model based on the co production of public goods has substituted the dualist model of a public sector in charge of public goods and a private sector interested only in its own profit.

This is particularly valid when the state is seeking a presence in the international arena. For example, the United States think tanks, officially private organisations, hold an important role in the international diffusion of political doctrines and tend to feel a sense of patriotism to defend American interests. International cooperation cannot be reduced simply to the actions of Ministries of Foreign Affairs who liase only with their counterparts in other countries; Foundations, in particular, the big American foundations and the associative networks, the European international charitable NGOs have played a major role in the conception and implementation of policies.

Awareness regarding the provision of common goods has evolved in roundabout way. The more sophisticated a society becomes, the more the quality of its public services (transport, health and education) impacts on its economic efficiency and its social cohesion, the more the conditions of economic efficiency themselves require a cooperation between public and private actors and between public and private management systems. It is interesting to note therefore that the Lisbon Treaty promotes entirely the idea of Services of General Interest (SGI) within the EU. The EU recognizes that all needs cannot be met by commercial trade but does not consider either that there should be a monopoly of state actors providing public services.

There is no reason why global governance should not also apply this theory.


In the modern-day world, non-state actors face ever-increasing opportunities, which are often difficult for them to take up

Theories and institutions develop more slowly than economic, social and cultural realities. The implication of non-state actors such as companies, churches, associations and foundations, in the area of international regulations, is also forged from the diachrony between the evolution of ideas and institutions on the one hand, and the evolution of economic, cultural, social and ecological realities on the other. Our mind-set, in particular concerning politics and economics, is still based on certain intellectual frameworks and debates which have been held for centuries and which are very distant from the challenges of the twenty-first century.

In the case of institutions, they remain, on paper at least, as they were conceived between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. The result is that humanity now must address new kinds of interdependencies that exist between societies themselves and the biosphere, and must do so with mind-sets and institutions that are truly adapted to these challenges.

This situation creates for the non-state actor an historical challenge for which they are sadly ill-prepared. They are, perhaps, more supple in their mentality and institutional frameworks than the state, but will they be able to implement change as quickly as is needed in order to meet the challenges required?

The main historical issue at hand is how to manage these interdependencies without the existence of a world political power. It is when this void exists that conflicts, plundering of natural resources, power plays between countries with oil reserves and those without, dumping, flags of convenience, tax havens, mafias, international terrorism, and all sorts of trafficking become possible. In this scenario, the priority of non-state actors should be to contribute to the emergence of a world community consciousness, as it is preliminary for the rest. The non-state actor’s role is to shed light on the major agenda topics of our societies, in an etymological sense, stating what should be done and to propose a strategy or strategies capable of meeting such challenges. We cannot hide the fact that, although there are some exceptions, we are still very far away from meeting this objective.

When studying enterprises, we can see that they are legally an association of share-holders, who are therefore the owners of the enterprise. Directors therefore, must, in theory, only submit themselves to the will of the owners. The personal ethics of directors, workers and shareholders together with the objective of the enterprise, which is required for its effectiveness, along with the enterprise’s good reputation, which can be distorted in case non-governmental players report its actions, can push enterprises to be socially and environmentally responsible. Although company practices, which are subject to the pressure of international competitors and the market value of shares are analyzed based on the influence of the three elements of economic efficiency, social responsibility and environmental responsibility, it is only the first one, that of economic efficiency, which is really implemented. It is understood that social and environmental responsibilities play less important roles. These two elements fall into the category of what is referred to as “sustainable growth”. This concept is really an oxymoron: an association of the two contradictory terms of “sustainable” and “growth”, although we consider that this contradiction has been solved. In reality, among the need to assure social cohesion through indefinite growth, the need to profoundly transform the model of economic development with the way societies function to protect the Biosphere, it is by far and away the issue of “growth” which wins the upper hand on a national and international scale.

As for foundations, they have been inspired by such traditions as Greek Evergetism, the Protestant tradition of what one owes to society and the Buddhist tradition of duty once success is acquired and then turning oneself to the true essential, which means spirituality.

A certain number of foundations have engaged in international activities: big foundations such as the Ford or Rockefeller Foundations or the smaller ones, such as ours, the Charles Léopold Mayer Foundation for the Progress of Humankind. However, this cannot be extended to all foundations. Foundations are above all associations, which carry out certain actions for the local public good. This is not in itself illegitimate that is the idea of giving back to society some of the prosperity one has received. However, this idea of maintaining economic efficiency, gives the majority of foundations a narrow field of movement in the field of philanthropy, which does not prepare foundations to take on the great challenges of the modern world. Notwithstanding, American foundations, based on the 2006 Foundation Centre Report, have significantly increased the funds allocated to international programs to a total of 4.2 billion dollars, of which 22% of the funds go to foreign allocations. Are foundations more innovative and efficient than state action? Is private generosity, by nature, nobler than tax redistribution? Foundations usually try to give us that idea. However, this is not clear. Foundations usually present themselves as the promoters of social innovation. Yet, studies show that this is rarely true, as foundations hardly ever study their own governance. As for the juxtaposition of separate actions implemented by foundations, this trait is not so favorable in regards to a coherent construction of public goods.

Non-governmental organizations, in the same way as foundations, are focused almost exclusively on local or national activities. Only large organizations emerge onto the international scene, and which have had from the beginning an international vocation in the fields of solidarity, human rights and the environment. These well-known organizations are Oxfam, Greenpeace, Amnesty International, Handicap International, Caritas, etc. Their vocation is often very specific and their form of action when addressing international regulations is basically that of lobbying rather than trying to establish a new world order. Nevertheless, the advantages of the non-governmental organization are still decisive. Now we are experiencing the arrival of new foundations linked to the computer revolution, such as The Bill Gates and The Hewlett Packard Foundations, and of those of the large, emerging nations, such as India and China, in particular, which are still typically modeled on the great old foundations, but which may adopt original positions in the international scene, due to the pressures arising from the wide range of challenges inherent to their countries.


Non-state actors, due to their vocation, size, flexibility, methods of organization and action, interact with states on a level playing field

Some non-state actors have an international vocation

It is unrealistic to suggest that states have become, at international scale, entities without importance. Their strategies of power or defense, their capacity to build stable international agreements, their role in regulation enactment by adopting international norms, their capacity to invest in infrastructures and research, make them first-rate international players. However, in my opinion, it would be a mistake to consider non-state actors as second-rate players due to their size or influence.

First of all, non-state actors, in contrast to states, are first-rate players on an international scale. The first examples are the enterprises which are not only multinational or international but really transnational. This complicates the idea of economic patriotism. This was seen during the fusion of Mittal and Arcelor. The fact that Mr. Mittal is Indian did not impede him from taking over the jewel of French industry by his Indian Enterprise. The social seed of Mittal, if I remember well, is in England. And as for the French jewel Arcelor, its social seed was in Luxembourg.

A very interesting sign of the biggest enterprises’ transnational resolve concerns training of workers and executives. We have examined which were the institutions that have developed intercultural dialogue seminars. Enterprises have implemented training courses before states have, although we may have thought that states having embassies in different countries throughout the world would have established real dialogue between interlocutors. None of this has been done: diplomats are trained to understand other societies through the prism of their own. Diplomats are not trained to listen to other societies, while transnational enterprises, to be successful, need to have excellent relations with a great number of public administrations, any intercultural mistake would mean billions in economic losses! Therefore, it is more a necessity than philanthropy to listen, but it is revealing to see that their field of action is fundamentally international.

Enterprises are not the best entities to use in analyzing the global economic reality of the 21st Century. Their legal delimitations, as well as legal and accountancy manipulations, which lead to false parameters, do not give us an exact picture of the globalisation of these entities in the world economy. The real parameter of analysis is production: cars, electronics, software, chemicals, agriculture, aeronautic industry, etc...
It is the same for a certain number of philanthropic actors and other associative entities (in the widest sense of the term). Some of associations such as Greenpeace, Amnesty International, Oxfam, Caritas or the Bill Gates Foundation have international action as their social objective.

The size of non-state actors is similar to those of many states

Size is the second parameter of importance and influence. As we know, business output figures or even the consolidated added value of the biggest enterprises can make them comparable, in terms of billions of euros, to the biggest states on the planet. In December 2000 Sarah Andersen and John Cavanagh of the Washington Institute for Policy Studies published a report that has gone around the world: “51 of the biggest economies in the world belong to enterprises and 49 to states”. These figures are contested for comparing enterprises’ consolidated business data with the GDP of states, though the order of importance is still true. The same is true of NGOs. Oxfam, with six hundred people working for them, is a real multinational of solidarity. Oxfam works on equal terms with public agencies. The new or big old-time foundations represent a strong force superior to the majority of ministries of foreign affairs or UN agencies. Each of the ten biggest American foundations allocate more than 300 million dollars per year, of which the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which distributed 1.4 billion dollars in 2005 (2), is the biggest donor. In the financial field, the big retirement trust funds can do and undo financial markets as much as states or big banks. The international importance of sovereign funds was revealed during the subprime crisis, which began in autumn 2007. These are funds comparable to pension trust funds. They have had an important long-term role in the Middle East and in Asia in maintaining international financial equilibriums, although they have generally been involved in the American financial market by buying American Treasury Bonds (especially China and Japan) or confiding their management to Western institutions (recycling petrodollars from the Gulf). In the field of research, the Welcome Trust in the United Kingdom is as important as state subsidised research, as is true in other fields. If it were necessary to establish a hierarchy by financial importance of the players on the international scene, non-state actors would be as important as state actors.

Recently, the March/April 2008 edition of OECD’s “Financing Development” compared the international solidarity action of the big NGOs with state action: the most important NGOs compete in equal terms with the European states.

Comparing selected NGO and official donor budgets in 2006 (US$ bn)

Non-state actors have more flexibility than states

The third reason for their importance and influence has to do with their flexibility. I remember a conversation with the President of the Development Bank of Chile. We compared our budgets. The comparison was 1 to 10,000. But if we compared the margin of manoeuvre of our capacity to redeploy funds, the Development Bank had grossly 1% annual margin and our foundation 100%. Comparing the capacity of action of the two institutions, the difference was not 1 to 10,000 but 1 to 100! The same can be said of state action at an international scale. States are also very restrained in their forms of action, as in their capacity to reallocate funds. In their forms of action, states are hampered by the fact that they can only interact with representatives of other states, which singularly limit the nature of action and interlocutors. States are also restrained by the exercise of parliamentary control, which is normal in democratic countries, based on public accountancy. In international institutions controls not only make decisions, but also the management of personnel, more complicated: the concern of balance between states prevails over the professional quality in the election of their leaders.

I frequently bring up the matter of the responsibility of non-state actors. The possibility of a foundation, for example, acting in the long-term and freely choosing its interlocutors, its means of action and its scales of action must contrast, with its having an acute awareness of its responsibilities towards the whole of the planet. However, to recapture the beautiful concept of La Boëtie, the number of those institutions placed in a state of voluntary servitude: being scared of their own degree of freedom and of the responsibility resulting from that freedom, they hasten to invent artificial rules in order to reduce both.

Non-state actors’ organization is better suited for the new realities of the world

The way non-state actors are organized is the fourth reason for their importance and influence. Where states and international institutions are prisoners of a model of hierarchy, non-state actors are more capable of adopting systems of organization applicable to the diversity of situations, to the complexity of problems and to the opportunities offered by the revolution of information technologies.

First of all, the example of cities: in 2005, the founding congress of the UCLG, United Cities and Local Government, association took place. Its creation resulted from the fusion of the previously existing city networks. The history of the UCLG is particularly interesting. The UCLG was founded in the beginning to become a leading player in the international scene, and claimed a seat in different entities such as the United Nations Human Settlements Program. But, as soon as the organization was founded, this objective became secondary and the UCLG turned into an international forum for co-operation among cities. In fact, in a global economy which has become an economy of partner and competitor cities and regions, the big cities take part in the international scenario, more so than the bureaucratic states. Hence, even if this movement is in its preliminaries, the city network proposes a different model of international regulations, as they have a different link between local and global scenarios. The distance between local and global is not measured in degrees and filtered, especially by state filters which claim monopoly over international relations (this was the case in France, less than 20 years ago), but through short cuts between local and global.

Another significant player is the phenomenon of immigration: Chinese immigrants throughout the world, Latin-Americans in the United States or Sub-Saharan Africans, North Africans and Turks in Europe. Migrants are, by definition, actors on an international scale. They play, as we know, a fundamental economic role with their transfers of funds, their know-how and their models of organization. There is an anecdote which explains this latter: I was in China 3 or 4 years ago and I was surprised by the scarce presence of freeware. They answered me with a smile: “in China, all software is free”, explaining that, through their network of students and professionals living in the United States, they had access to new technological developments very soon after they first appeared.

Even members of the mafia and terrorists have shown they have superior and more flexible organization systems, combining archaic methods such as oral commitments, that do not leave traces and cannot be betrayed, and the most modern electronic means.

Enterprises and NGOs offer different models of organization which are geometrically variable and forms of alliances that are necessary to act in this complex world. I remember a conversation I had with professor Schwab, the founder of the Davos Forum. I asked him about the insights that led him and Raymond Borne to create the World Economic Forum. He made the following observation: 50 or 100 years ago dialogue between a national economy and another entity was carried out by professional chambers or by states. Now, due to the size and concentration of economic power, dialogue is taken on directly by partners with the same size but different natures, such as a ministry of finance and a large enterprise.

Another example is Oxfam, a huge non-governmental organization of British origin, which plays a very important role in the debates of the World Trade Organisation on agriculture. Oxfam has revealed the negative impacts of North American and European agriculture subsidies, something of which not even the states themselves were aware. This capacity emerges from the short cuts that this Organisation can take between on-the-ground contacts, peasants and village communities, and the international scene. Systems based on hierarchy are not capable of implementing these short cuts due to mediations and censorships (voluntary or unconscious); therefore what comes through international circuits usually becomes insipid.

They have a better command of the Internet

In the usage of new technologies, an important development was made at the end of the 90s by the successful campaign of “Social Movements” as they were called, against the Multilateral Agreement on Investment. What was this about? Backed by the OECD, the developed countries were finishing, very discreetly in their circles of experts, the terms for an international agreement that would offer reasonable guarantees for international investors. They wanted to have an agreement on foreseeable control over the proceeds of their investments and they wished to have a guarantee that in the years to come, after an investment in a foreign country, that the national regulations, especially environmental ones, would not change in a certain manner making the investment non-profitable. The objective of the negotiations was legitimate, to a certain extent, and the methods of negotiation were traditional. If I remember correctly, an e-mail from a Canadian mail-server to a mail list, alerting people to the scandalous form and contents of the Agreement, and reporting the lack of democracy, all this created a movement of opinion strong enough to make the OECD stop the negotiations. I shall not dwell on the final effects of this citizen campaign, which was rather perverse: the Agreement was substituted by bilateral agreements which benefited dictatorships. But as for the methodology, the action was collective and rather efficient.

The same can be said about global social forums. I shall not discuss their contents; I am only interested in their methods. Their huge gatherings have been accomplished with very few means following the method of new collective self-organization, mainly based on the Internet. Future displays of power, organized by billions of dollars, will be very important, but not necessarily more so than self-organization. The recent example of the film “The World According to Monsanto” is very interesting: a small number of people defy the company that controls 90% of genetically controlled plants, which tried in the past to use billions of dollars to convince national administrations of their ideas. The company was weakened by the various usages of videos, by Google, and by methods of network organization.

Non-state actors are in a good position to be influential

Another characteristic of non-state actors is that they do not take over power but rather, they influence it. This is the case with big non-governmental and international organizations in commercial negotiations: no one argues the fact that the agreements shall be implemented between states, but the big NGO’s expertise and capacity to mobilize people have had a strong influence on negotiations. This is due to the fact that the NGOs were able to feed the arguments of the poorer countries that compared to the richer countries, would have been victims of the dysfunctional access to information.

Another example is the America Neocons, at the other end of the political arena. Neocons have never wanted to take power; they simply try to influence it: “in strategic terms, their approach is indirect strategy”1. Neocons are inspired in the methodology used by Trotsky and his followers to impose their creed In this case, Neocons are trying to impose American style democracy on a global scale, by force if necessary. To achieve this goal, they use modern technologies, traditional media, the development of ideas by think tanks and the Internet. Private institutions, such as the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Hudson Institute and more recently the Project for the New American Century have played and will play a considerable role in influencing political events. As Arnaud Blin states: “the small size of the movement is precisely its strength. Neocons, as an intellectual organization or if you prefer ideology, are extremely coherent, incredibly well organized, undoubtedly efficient and of an extreme susceptibility.”

Finally, if we focus less on the functional character of governance - who signs and who decides the norms – than the reality of how regulations are established as treaties and norms are only the final result. Non-state actors, owing to their wide scope of organization and action, are a very decisive power. I mentioned the example of the neocons as per the important role that the United States plays in world regulations. Being the prime economic power and, most of all, a leader in creating cultural references, it is not possible to treat the United States on the same scale as other countries: their national politics and their interior debates are key elements in world governance and development.


Non-state actors play a key role in governance in different domains

There are relatively few areas where non-state actors do not play an important role in international regulations.

1) Security and Defense

At first glance, the fields of defense and security would not include non-state actors. Is this not a domain reserved for states? No, it is also a field for non-state actors; Al-Qaeda after September 11, despite their limited territorial sanctuaries, has imposed the terms for the new world defense policies. After the terrorist attacks in London 2005, the question of Muslim immigration in Europe has taken a new dimension. Al-Qaeda has perfect command of the asymmetric methods of combat. When we observe the enormous war effort made in Iraq and Afghanistan and we study the United States public debt, with its geostrategic consequences appearing every day. We can understand Al-Qaeda is using the same policy with the United States that President Reagan used on the Soviet Union with the Star Wars project: proving the unsustainable effects that military expenditure had on the Soviet Union’s economy.

International interventions in security do not only have to do with terrorism. Non-state actors have been able to arrive at the quasi-general prohibition of land mines. Another example is given by the Sant’Egidio Community, a Catholic organization founded in 1968 in Rome, which has played a significant role in the negotiation process which reached the 1992 peace accords in Mozambique or having mediated in Kosovo or Central Africa. At the beginning of 2008, this Organisation played a significant role in the cease fire between Uganda and the Lord Resistance Army, based in Southern Sudan, after 20 years of civil war. Michel Rocard explaining the concept of “soft power” which represents Europe, has underlined that in today’s world, few conflicts can be solved with the sole use of force.

These examples show that for better of for worse, for peace or for war, non-state actors are sometimes better equipped than the states, to facilitate mediations, to ignite or calm spirits, to build conditions for long lasting organic violence or durable peace.

2) International Cooperation

The role of non-state actors is particularly present in international cooperation. This is important as underdevelopment is a result of among other things, inability to adapt, weakness, inefficiency or corrupt state organization. State international cooperation supposes that the problem is solved, since it’s mostly based on state structures, where quality is often the result of the development process in itself. International solidarity NGOs are the main promoters of issues such as the role of civil society, decentralization or even progressive moralization of enterprise behavior in occupied countries.

The role of non-state actors is particularly present in international cooperation. This is important as underdevelopement is a result of among other things, inadaptation, weakness, inefficiency or corrupt state administration. In this regard, state international cooperation supposes that the problem is solved as states work with national administrations in which part of the problem is the process in itself. Non governmental organisations dedicated to international solidarity which have promoted matters such as the role of social society, decentralisation or evolution of enterprise behaviour in dominated countries (third world countries).

3) The Economy

In economy, for reasons already mentioned having to do with the size and power of the big transnational enterprises, the essential element is the enterprise itself. In an open global market, enterprises are the only players capable of mediating between research and final market products. Policy making at a state or regional level in the United States or Europe are essential in regulations, but the process of enacting laws should studied closely. The degree of liberty which the big states have or consider they have in different economic areas, assuring country and continent prosperity are sometimes very limited. The example of genetic manipulation, disclosed in all its crudeness by the recent book, Le monde selon Monsato [1] shows the synchronization between enterprises and their interests and the Foods and Drugs Administration (FDA) and their duties on the other.

If we admit that the rules applied to enterprises are an essential dimension of international regulations; do states play an important role in the moralization of the economic field? It is doubtful. It is so common to see states competing among them to draw investments and they are very sensitive to blackmail when jobs are at stake. It is not enough to say that states dispose of legal tools to state they are powerful actors.

The facts are the following: the social campaign against Nestle, in which the promotion of artificial baby milk had serious health consequences in poor countries, has driven the Enterprise to thoroughly revise their strategies. More recently, the campaign on how sport equipment companies, Nike in particular, had subcontracted their production to local companies that did not respect human rights. This led to the fact that a big enterprise could not deny its obligation with the workers of these subcontracted companies even though there was only a commercial agreement with them. Therefore it was through a non governmental action that the concept of “responsibility of dominant actors in the production of goods” has taken shape.

The same can be said of the campaign against Total in Burma, where this enterprise was accused of accepting forced labor. This Campaign changed the behavior of the enterprise and led it to generously recompensing the communities which were victims. It is through non governmental organizations, that sooner or later, international law pertaining to enterprises shall be defined.

New private labels are essential in making production branches develop towards sustainable practices: sustainable forest exploitation at the moment and in the future sustainable fishing. Even the label “biological agriculture” is not a state label. This is of voluntary subscription.

For a big enterprise in the age of Internet, the greatest risk is not to be sanctioned by a state but to lose one’s good reputation due to a consumer campaign. The story of the Shell platform, some 15 years ago, is similar to the campaign taken on against the Multilateral Investment Accord (AMI). Shell had sunk in the Northern Sea an out-of-service oil platform. A citizen campaign was struck against the Enterprise. The data, in which the campaign was based on, was incorrect but nevertheless it significantly contributed to modifying the Enterprise’s policies.

A closer analysis suggests that the efficiency of citizen initiatives are so strong, because they find allies inside the enterprises: workers and executives, who are drawn between what they have to do professionally and what their conscience dictates them to do.

4) Trade

In the field of commerce, I have already mentioned the example of the big international solidarity NGOs in reference to agriculture negotiations. Another important field of debate has been opened: that of intellectual property. International NGOs were the first to pose the problem of the savage usage a property rights on biodiversity. These associations want to put an end to the plundering of genes in poor countries, without any compensation for local societies, which risk one day having to pay royalties for using the products from their own soil.

Non-governmental organizations have helped the big countries of the Southern Hemisphere to recognize the importance of generic medicines and demonstrate the radical immorality of the deaths of thousands of Aid victims through not having access to treatments because of to property rights. Strictly non-governmental initiatives were the players that developed file exchanges on the Internet, especially music files. This has led to the questioning of the economic model of culture industries, especially the music industry.

In domestic biodiversity, non-governmental organizations, such as the Réseau européen des semences paysannes, have questioned the monopoly of the big enterprises in seed selection. Finally, in software, non governmental organizations, following the example of Linux, have promoted freeware with such force that Microsoft, or at least its founder Bill Gates, is conscious of the fact that Windows control of the sector will not last forever.

5) The Information Society

Shall we talk about the Internet revolution? The Internet was created because of the Pentagon’s, and therefore the United States’, fears but the exchange protocol, which has permitted the development of the Internet, has been managed privately by the World Web Consortium. This entity, despite pressure from different states, is still a private organization which is dedicated to giving out domain names. The example of file-exchange protocols shows, as was the case with biological agriculture, which in a global economy policy making, an essential aspect of governance, is far from being a state monopoly.

6) Health

In the field of health, the essential question of generic medicines has already been raised. You only need to visit the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation web site to see that since its creation the Foundation has invested more than 9 billion dollars in health, of which 2.5 billion has been used to fight AIDS. Financing comes through several private and public circles. I had the opportunity twelve years ago to conduct an audit of the WHO (World Health Organisation) and I can say that private donations to these organizations have a lever effect on the orientation of programs. Therefore, the power of initiative, as in other fields, is now the non-state actors’ domain.

In addition to these actions, which appear spectacular due to the billions of dollars involved, there are other actions implemented by much smaller non-state actors that are very successful because they target mentalities. For example, food envisioned from the general view point of health. If this subject is now being promoted by public administrations, this concept was initiated, at least in Europe, by non-governmental organizations. The movement “Slow food”(8) and the network Alimenterra (9), for instance, play a significant role in implementing healthy food practices, where state administrations participate in sophisticated technical platforms and curative care. In particular, Alimenterra plays a big role in promoting new practices in public catering, especially in schools and hospitals.

7) Environment

Environmental protection is one of the favorite domains of NGOs. Together with human rights, this is one of the fields where independent observation structures have permitted the creation of real international regulatory systems. The environment has also been a domain where states had not been very motivated to take the initiative, as many of them were involved with economic lobbies.

A certain number of non-governmental actions have started from international accords: the gradual elimination of chloro-fluoro-carbons (Montreal Protocol 1987); the conservation of biodiversity (Rio Convention 1993 and the Cartagena Protocol). As for climate change, the Giecc IPCC (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) was officially created by the World Meteorological Organization and by the United Nations, but the initiative to commence was non state driven, with a strong involvement from physicians such as Gérard Megie. Afterwards international entities took the baton.

Another interesting case is the Wuppertal Institution. It is a private research institution, even though it collaborates with several German Länder, which began the first serious analysis of production outsourcing. The examples are too numerous to cite in full. To mention just one, however, The World Watch Institute, created by Lester Brown, has exercised a moral and intellectual magistracy to move consciences over the major imbalances appearing between human activities and the biosphere, taking the torch of the Club of Rome and the Meadows Report, published in 1972 pertaining to “the limits of growth”.

These examples demonstrate that in various domains non-state actors have initiated international regulations, have sometimes played a central role in their elaboration and have intervened in the implementation of these regulations.


[1Le monde selon Monsanto (The World According to Monsanto), Marie Monique Robin, Editions La découverte, 2008

For a better understanding and development of the role of non-state actors, the latter should be studied in conjunction with the general principles of governance.
A legitimacy based on objectives, values, and methods

The question of legitimacy of non-state actors in governance has come up many times and it refers to the fact that regulations are public in nature. I previously stated that this idea is very simplistic. There are a certain number of facts which are undeniable. They are essentially related to international economy: in what way can the big corporations sitting in the World Business Council and Sustainable Development (WBCSD) justify their dictating the directives of global well-being; because they are big and international? Why can enterprises decide what technological developments are favourable for Humanity? Because they have the technical means to develop them and the financial capacity to pay millions of dollars to bombard public opinion to convince them that these innovations are good; as was the case with genetically modified plants?

To avoid the two obstacles of dogmatism and simplemindedness, we should bring up the general principles of governance and examine the way these principles are applied to non-state actors’ actions and co-operations between them and with state actors.

Legitimacy based on objectives, values and methods

The traditional theory of governance confuses legitimacy and legality. On an international level, this confusion is due to the combination of two factors: democratic ideology and the principle of sovereignty.

What is legitimacy? It is peoples’ assurance that society is being administered by rules accepted and understood by all, that authority is being assumed by competent leaders devoted to the public good, that the obligations imposed on individuals in the name of this common good are justly dimensioned, which means they target the public good with the fewest possible obligations. Each citizen is willing to give up part of their liberty, if it is worthwhile.

In democratic regimes, we consider that leaders are legitimate if they have been elected by the people. Therefore legality, by definition a legal term, is confused with legitimacy, a subjective notion. However, experience proves that political leaders do not enjoy high moral or intellectual credibility from the citizens that have elected them. This has been proven by public opinion polls. Instead of establishing the philosophical principle that the free election of representatives should lead us to choose the best ones, we should address social and financial reality: governments are usually elected by a short margin; the importance of theatrics; the role of money in the elections; the difficulty that democracies have in addressing important political matters; political terms that are too short and make long-term matters unpopular.

On the international scene, the principle of sovereignty puts neighbour’s affairs out of bounds. De facto leaders quickly become legitimate leaders, especially when we wish to make allies or when we have helped them to claim power. The United Nations Charter begins with the nice idea of “the Peoples of the Earth” and finally becomes “the syndicate of governants”, repeating the acute expression used by Georges Berthoin. Democracies have always been divided between the desire to found a club of “presentable leaders”, meaning from free elections, and the concrete necessity to deal with the de facto leaders.

This is why, in the public’s eyes, based on opinion polls, non-governmental organisations have a better reputation than political leaders, including democratic leaders: they are considered more sincere, less selfish, and more competent, three criteria of legitimacy. Anyway, who has the legitimacy to represent people not subject to law, those who do not vote, future generations, animals and the biosphere?

When the Rockefeller Foundation carried out investigations into wheat in Mexico in the 40s, when they, together with the Ford Foundation, established the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines in the 60s, initiatives which were to take us to a green revolution, when the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has mobilised itself on AIDS or when our Foundation organises dialogue between Chinese and European societies, they do not have any mandate other than themselves. It is the approach and the results which give them their legitimacy and not any title of ownership over the public good.

Values come into play as another dimension.

The international community is confronted on this subject with a historical deadlock. The ethical pedestal, recognised by more or less everyone, with many restraints outside Western democracies, is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. After many years, the idea of political rights – equality before the law, freedom of opinion, freedom of speech, and right of association – has been expanded to economic, social, environmental and cultural rights. But constantly affirming rights is an aporia: for positive rights to be respected, such as economic and social rights, it is necessary to have the right conditions and have third parties responsible to bring about those conditions. Moreover, the unilateral declaration of rights gives an unbalanced definition of citizenship, as citizenship has always been equilibrium of rights and obligations. Here we see the importance of non-governmental work in promoting the idea of the third international pillar, next to the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a Charter of human responsibilities as the ethical foundation of the 21st Century. There cannot be a legitimate international regulation, that is, one accepted by everyone, if there is not a common ethical base. From this point of view, states and non-state actors, if I may say so, “are under the same pavilion”. This means sharing common ethical values that legitimate actions. The liberty of the enterprises is to undertake business necessarily contrasts, ethically and legally, with their social and environmental responsibilities: responsibility of the legal structure in itself and the personal responsibility of their executives. Other non-state actor such as NGOs can be legitimately questioned on the way they have exercised their own responsibilities, whereas they so often prefer to speak about the responsibility of other entities: enterprises and governments. In the same way, the question of ecological debt can also be brought up: like the states, as representatives of their respective peoples, can they be made responsible for the damages caused to the environment? There will not be legitimate world governance without reference to those principles of responsibility and equality.


Elements of democracy and of world citizenship

It is impossible to speak about democracy and citizenship on a purely national scale. Democracy and citizenship should be exercised at the scale of real interdependencies as today our “oïkos”, our living space, is the planet. The question of democracy takes us therefore to the idea of global democracy, of global citizenship. At this level, state actors cannot teach non-state actors any lessons. State actors owe their election to the voters within a small constituency of the planet: their own state. Democracy is in a shambles. It is in crisis due to its objectives, scales and methods.

Objectives: these are not being debated by citizens as the principle choices for the future, in particular scientific orientation and technologies are not being debated on a national scale. Scales: because even in the EU the most important political scene is still on a national scale. Methods: because representative democracy, inherited from past centuries, has ceased to be in tune with today’s actual society and the complexities of the subjects under debate.

Democracy, on a global scale, is seriously bargained by the fact that after the Second World War a choice was made – there was without doubt no other option at the time – to make the United Nations an assembly of states, with the same representation. One state, one voice? This sacralization of the state does not reflect the incredible heterogeneity of the states of the world, from Bhutan to China, and India to the United States; this can only be a parody of democracy.

Therefore, comparing state regulations, which are democratic as they have been enacted by states, with regulations carried out by non-state actors, which are not democratic, relies on an exercise of style. However, the different natures of the sources of their respective legitimacies between states and non-state actors, makes it impossible to imagine co-management where state and non-state actors have to be face to face.

The role of non-state actors and their networks is decisive in building public debate and consensus. Non-state actors represent themselves and their followers, as enterprises only represent their share-holders, and I may add that states only represent their electors. But we must remember that when a system is complex, democracy changes its nature. Moments of political tension are not adequate for making decisions. Moments of political tension are defined as those when political parties are confronting their view points. Searching for a satisfactory result requires studying alternative solutions. However, in the process of finding a satisfactory solution, NGOs, and especially non-state actors, have a decisive role to play in announcing issues, exploring alternatives, conveying expertise and embodying the interests and values of their members.

It is interesting to observe that the big non-state actors, the huge enterprises or NGOs, are spontaneously organised by world regions and not by states. We cannot put China and Burkina Faso on the same scale. I have had the conviction for a long time that there will only be real world governance when regional entities are constituted; about 20 entities around the world which would negotiate among them. Clearly, the spontaneous organisation of non-state actors forecasts this regional division.


The ability to design better institutional schemes

Some of the modes of action necessary for international governance such as the right to resort to force and taxation remain the monopoly of public power. In other cases, we must compare the efficiency and relevance of public and private regulation systems and agencies. These can be measured using a series of criteria: their ability to coordinate the means necessary for achieving set objectives, and therefore their ability to overcome the fragmented nature of both national and international institutions, the construction, where necessary, of social conditions favorable to the creation and acceptance of regulations, the capacity to bring together different means, such as judicial and administrative constraints with those whose behavior must be modified and those who have the ability to influence behavior, the implementation of effective tools of political evaluation and the differentiation of methods according to the very nature of the regulations that are to be implemented. I will provide brief illustrations of each of these points.

A more global approach to governance

Public systems, be they national or international, generally function through the segmentation of competencies. Thus, through the years, the objectives that the international community has assigned to itself have been multiplied, leading to a multiplication of structures, each one dedicated to one particular set of objectives. But real world challenges do not fit into such neat divisions. At the national level, this always raises the thorny issue of inter-ministerial coordination and at the international level, the problem of ‘incompatibility of norms’ and of inter-agency cooperation. In phases of rapid economic globalisation, international commerce is the domain where major contradictions are most visible. On the one hand World Trade Organisation (WTO) regulations put forward the principal of non-discrimination. Its (practically) sole aim is the liberalization of trade and the defence of intellectual property regulations. This permanently risks leading to ‘social and environmental dumping’ in countries thus placed in competition with each other. The WTO also pushes for integration in the commercial sector of goods and services. This promotes a different logic, for example that freedom of information. UNESCO and the WTO logically defend different positions, one is in favor of the freedom of information and knowledge exchange, the other supports intellectual property. The same is true of environmental protection, defended by the UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) and the protection of man’s labor rights defended by the ILO (International Labour Organisation) contradict the rules of commerce that see this concern for human and environmental rights as being like so many other non-tariff obstacles. It thus regularly falls to non-governmental organizations, themselves moreover often supported by one government or another, to be in the position to propose the global management outsourcing of production. The ‘banana branch,’ or the ‘forest branch,’ are interesting in this respect.

Coordination between institutions of the same level can only come “from above”, from one institution capable of calling them together, or ‘from below,’ from a third party who has no authority over either institution. In the case of the international system where a higher authority doesn’t exist, it’s often non-state actors who play the ‘third party”, role.

Contribution to the emergence of a world community

Let’s take the example of China and Europe. These are two essential trade partners and two major world players for the future. Thus they need to conduct negotiations across a wide range of fields: multi-lateral forums, bi-lateral relations, trade forums, etc. But above all, the way in which the two societies perceive each other is a determining factor in their long-term relations. The process through which they learn to know each other and even to solve misunderstandings are decisive. They are in many respects beyond the realm of public institutions. Thus, our Foundation has implemented a China – Europe Forum where the different socio-professional milieus learn to communicate on an equal footing, and to work together on common problems.

Another example can be given: that of “popular universities”, for example the UPAFA (African Farmers University) or the UPU – People’s Urban University created by the International Alliance of Inhabitants. Here the aim is to provide those social and economic players located the most distant from places of power and knowledge with the relevant expertise and mutual connections that allow them to place themselves in the contemporary context, to actively and competently participate in negotiations and to progress from competitive to cooperative relations.

Another interesting example is that of fishermen. Northern and Southern fishermen are in direct competition. State negotiations often lead to the selling out of the interests of one of the groups (for example the sale of African States’ fishing rights to the Europeans, in order to secure the money necessary to pay civil servants’ salaries to the detriment of local fishermen) or to the tooth and nail defense of the rights of their own fishermen. The World Forum for Fishermen and Sea-workers created a new forum through which fishermen from all nations could get to know each other and investigate ways in which to promote their common interests, as well as the sustainable management of fish stocks as opposed to competing for resources.

The combination of different regulatory modes

I have already mentioned the diversity of sources of regulation on several occasions. It hardly needs mentioning that the ISO standard, which has become the benchmark even for public contracts, is a ‘private’ standard that has been developed between companies. Traditional regulations combined the rule of law (that which is allowed and that which is authorized), taxation and financing (that which is taxed and that which is paid) and the public sector (that which is collectively undertaken, and that which is not). Today’s regulations are necessarily more subtle, using the carrot and stick, giving weight to market mechanisms, combining voluntary and compulsory commitments.

In this approach, non-governmental organizations play an important role of proposition, no longer restricting themselves to a role of demanding change or of protest. As we have seen on several earlier occasions, the role played by consumers is decisive. Recently, the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, introduced the idea of a taxation based on the “carbon content” of imported produce. In the short term this has given rise to a lifting of blockades, but it seems obvious that in the long term, the work of non-governmental think tanks such as the Wüpperthal Institute on MIPS (material input per unit of service) will found new ways of managing international commerce, in accordance with the need to fight climate change. In the same way, going back to ideas that came from non-governmental organizations, the British Secretary of State for the Environment has begun to float the idea of a ‘Carbon Currency,’ i.e. of carbon quotas that individuals could trade freely on the market.

The ability to get all the different parties around the table

States have not waited for the intervention of non-state actors to learn to practice cooperation between the parties involved. However, at the international level, no similar capacity to convoke these players exists. Initiatives are almost always mixed. As in the case of the updating of labels for sustainable forest exploitation, the ‘Progressive’ States, here Canada, and NGOs came together.

An efficient evaluation system

It is one thing to state the rules and another to ensure that they are respected. The African States are those who have ratified the greatest number of International Conventions, and perhaps we could suggest that this is because signing a convention costs nothing, if there are no means to ensure that it is properly implemented! More generally, for everything concerning economic and social rights or environmental protection, States rarely benefit from the necessary means of surveillance and control. They are also, even if we set aside the cases of flagrant corruption, placed in an ambiguous position between protection and the desire to maintain and develop economic activity. Finally, on the international scene, the sacrosanct principle of sovereignty places states in a difficult position when they are obliged to carry out official evaluations of other states. Only the citizen networks like Amnesty International, Reporters Sans Frontières, the International Prisons Observatory or Greenpeace are in a position to carry out decentralized, independent assessments, supported as they are, by large numbers of volunteers.


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

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.


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

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.