In 2020 global governance will be increasingly non-institutionally driven. The major actors will be local actors, enterprises, and civil society.This thesis is based on arguments of rational institutionalism. The term "governance" has its origins in economics and consequently the central question in governance theory is how efficient coordination between differing interests can be achieved. The growing complexity of coordination processes, because of further progression of globalisation and the growing differentiation of societies, will make efficient coordination through governance indispensable. Non-cooperation would lead to undesirable results for all actors.
These non-institutional processes of global governance will only be loosely connected with the United Nations. The main reason for this is that the United Nations defines governance more normatively. The UN Commission on Global Governance stated in the report "Our Global Neighbourhood" from 1995 that governance should not only lead to efficient coordination but also serve public welfare. However the United Nations lacks legitimacy and will not be able to establish this definition of governance worldwide in 2020.
To my mind this development is highly problematic, because pure bargaining processes that are non-institutionally driven cannot solve the major problems of our world. In trying to achieve efficient coordination most actors in governance processes will try to act for their own benefit. They will thus not be interested in discussing problems just for the sake of public welfare. This will intensify the already existing structural power imbalances in international relations.
Therefore I hold the opinion that we should base international relations on a normative term of global governance closely connected to the United Nations. We need a central organisation that is interested in public welfare and analyzes and controls processes of global governance concerning their power effects.
In my eyes two important measures in global decision-making processes would be necessary to bridge the gap between the developments that I foresee and the way our world should ideally be shaped.
First of all a far-reaching reform of the United Nations is indispensable. The UN's financial woes and the antiquated structure of the Security Council which reflects the global power structure of 1945 are major obstacles to strengthening the UN.
Furthermore, I propose that the United Nations sets minimum standards for non-institutionally driven global governance processes. When these standards are met by the actors, the United Nations should offer to finance these processes. Minu Hemmati gives a good example for possible criteria in her book "Multi-Stakeholder Processes for Governance and Sustainability." Multi-stakeholder processes (MSPs) are processes that aim to bring together all stakeholders in a new form of decision-finding on a particular issue. Following Hemmati the main criteria for good MSPs are equity and accountability in communication between stakeholders groups and their view. Furthermore, MSPs should be based on principles of transparency and participation.
Such minimum standards for global governance processes have two advantages. First of all, they oblidge actors in a governance process to limit power imbalances by establishing equity in communication through high transparency in information and the empowerment of weaker stakeholders, for example through capacity building projects. At the same time an independent financing of the process by a neutral organization like the United Nations would allow for an open and free dialogue.
Jörg Gundelfinger is a graduate student at the Free University of Berlin and the University of Potsdam.
This article has been shortlisted for atlantic-community.org's "Global Governance in 2020" student competition.