One of the most respected perspectives on the meaning of global governance is that of the Centre for the Study of Global Governance at the LSE, which understands global governance "not as government but as a minimum framework of principles, rules and laws necessary to tackle global problems, which are upheld by a diverse set of institutions, including both international organizations and national governments." Thus, it follows that given the absence of a global government —which would set the principles, rules and laws necessary to tackle a global problem— global governance needs to be the product of cooperation between international organizations.
But theory is always easier than practice. For instance, how would one deal with terrorism? Terrorism poses a global problem. Given current interdependence a terrorist attack in one state produces globally felt consequences. Additionally, terrorism undermines one of the principles which define the state: sovereignty. An act of terrorism infringes upon a state’s right to claim a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence within its borders. What makes terrorism a truly global problem is its internationalism: terrorist organizations have no specific headquarters and they normally retain a decentralized structure distributed over many countries, which makes it hard for any single government to combat it. It is in this context that global governance is required to define a common framework to combat terrorism, which would be the outcome of mutual cooperation between different state governments and international organizations.
So where does the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) fit into this scheme? NATO could provide the best example of how to put into effect the principles of global governance and combat the global problem of terrorism.
- First, NATO possesses the most comprehensive military experience in resolving armed conflicts. It has successfully implemented the paradigms of security and stability provision in post-conflict situations, which directly contribute to the smooth operation of humanitarian relief and reconstruction efforts.
- Second, NATO is made up of twenty six countries and enjoys bilateral agreements to another fifty states. This alliance bestows a sense of global legitimacy to its interventions, which is further strengthened by a close cooperation with international organizations like the United Nations (UN), European Union (EU) and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
- Third, NATO's redefinition of its security role and the adoption of a civil-military approach to security at the Riga Summit in 2006, demonstrates an ability to adapt to the changing topography of conflict and the new threats to global security in the 21st century.
This would mean that NATO —in cooperation with its partner countries and the aforementioned international organizations— must shoulder the responsibility of coordinating a common framework to combat terrorism. This initiative should take place as soon as possible, given the increase in the number of terrorist attacks and their geographical spread around the world. NATO has the capacity to muster all the necessary support needed to successfully apply the principles of global governance in combating terrorism before the year 2020. A redefinition of the Alliance's security role should not only relate to its originally conceived goal as a regional defense alliance, but rather it should seek to portray NATO as a global leader, in possession of the necessary legitimacy and assets, capable of fulfilling the ultimate mission of combating terrorism.
Yasser Abumuailek is completing his BA degree in Politics and Society at the University of Bonn.
This article has been shortlisted for the Atlantic Community's "Global Governance in 2020" student competition.