After years of crisis, in the face of genuine global problems the climate seems to be changing in favor of global governance. Warnings that, historically, shifts in the balance of global power have often led to conflict, or even war, should, in a situation marked by relatively good relations between the central actors of global politics, be read as a clear indication of how favorable the opportunity presently is to reach a cooperative balance of interests.
In fact, a more positive attitude toward global governance appears to be emerging in key global players. All in all, the global climate would seem favorable for a reform of the existing multilateral structures, perhaps even for efforts to expand and reshape global governance. The central actors have yet to reach agreement on the shape a reformed governance architecture might be given.
In order to overcome the crisis besetting the world's multilateral structures, the Europeans in particular would do well to pursue a set of more realistic concepts. While Beijing and Washington may, in the future, be somewhat more kindly disposed toward the idea of a global regulatory framework, they will, in the medium term, be unwilling to make any major concessions as far as their national sovereignty is concerned. What is first needed to be able to effectively tackle global problems like climate change, epidemics, state failure, and nuclear proliferation is a resolution of the representation crisis. Only in the spirit of fair compromise will it be possible to overcome the present state of polarization and to lay the foundation for political compro-mise on specific substantive issues.
Marc Saxer works for the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation in Berlin. He is Co-Coordinator of the Dialogue on Globalization Program and head of desk for Global Security at the Department for Global Policy and Development. His work focuses on global and regional governance mechanisms.