How to Govern the World

Folgender Beitrag entstand während des Global Economic Symposiums, das am 4. und 5. Oktober 2011 in Kiel stattfand. Alle Artikel sind auf zu finden.

“Norms for a Global Governance” was probably the most enlighting (and last) panel I took part. How should governments interact with each other on a global level? Which values should prevail and influence actions? The talk was on the one hand philosophical, using by using Locke, Hobbs, and Bentham for argumentations, but also practical by specific proposals and recommondations for politics. With participants from Asia, the United States and from a Eurozone country, two of them living on two continents and with their jobs ranging from government, private sector to NGOs, there was a good mixture of views on the world.

The talk was in the nicest room with two walls being windows to the coast. The five persons on the stage jumped from one topic to the other, led by an entertaining moderator. Nobody talked to long, but long enough to make their points. The people in the audience were in a good mood and asked good questions (Or were even dragged into the debate by the moderator – at least the one person, who was probably the most powerful at that moment in the room).

Following ideas for norms and governance were addressed:

On How to Manage Global Governance

International organizations like the UN, WTO, IMF and so on seem to be kind of powerless. Finding mechanisms for the globalized world of the 21st century is therefore crucial. “The institutions today werde designed for yesterday.” But: Before we can create new and innovative ones, it is important to define “what are the ultimative core values of our societies”.

In contrast to the commonplace that in times of globalization borders don’t matter anymore, the panelists said, that they do matter indeed. It was described how Japan had to change its value for the language Japanese being not a core part of its identity anymore.

In the last part of the panel a person from the audience draw the line from the way the internet is organized, basically decentralized and as a network, to the current crisis of international institutions. Would be a multistakeholder-model be a possible way?

(Even though the moderator had the objection that “multistakeholder-model”, just like “civil society”, is a very broad term, that can stand for a number of things.)

How Economy Shapes Values

In the past there have always been different balances in the wthere are doubts if the EU is able to speak with one voice.ay societies organize themselves. Basically there have been two poles: one the one hand cooperation, that emphasizes the community values, and on the other hand the competition, where the individual rights and values have more weight. Well-functioning civilizations have always a balanced view towards these poles. Evidence shows, that societies that had not been in the industrial revolution, e.g. in Asia, are prioritizing cooperation. I guess this is going to change right now, due to the fact that for instance in China materialism and consumption have been increasing for 20 years. Or, as a panelist put it: “Anything goes right now in China, because it is about survival.”

Because two of the speakers have Asian origin, the moderator directed the talk to the so-called “Asian values”. “There is no such thing as an Asien value”, clarified one participant, since there are 47 different countries on the continent. Nevertheless there are differences in values between continents and nations: “He have to be more honest about what we agree and about what we don’t agree on.”

Foreign Policy in a Interconnected World

One participant used the metaphora of ships to describe the situation of foreign policy today (even though he himself copied the comparion): In the past every country was a ship and the aim was to avoid collisions. Today, however,  all nations are one ship, that has 190 cabins, one for every countries, but there is no captain and no crew. And maybe not even a course. The consequence: “There is no need of 190 specific foreign policies anymore.”

But this does not avoid the question: How to organize global governance in the future? One panelist opted for an informal G3 with three members: USA, China and the European Union. This was critizised for two reasons. First, the G3 would not have worldwide legitimacy, because of the easy reason, that it would speak only for three out of nearly 200 countries on the planet. “In that sense, the UN, WTO and so on are still the most legitimate organizations.” Second, doubts are emerging, if the EU is able to speak with one voice.

The West as a Role Model

The panel was reminding the west to be a role-model for developing and emerging countries, which are looking for guidance “A failure for the western system would have a tremendous impact worldwide.”

One panelist shared an observation from China: When business partners from China and a foreign western country couldn’t agree on something in the early days of economic liberalization, the Americans or Europeans just had to say: “But this is international standard!” After failures in the west like the financial crisis such tactics does not work anymore.

In contrast to the bail-outs in the West, that did not create jobs, the stimulus China has a positive long-term impact. The money was spent in infrastructure, that creates a value for the future.

Further Information:

Dani Rodrick’s paper “Feasible Globalization” was cited during the discussion. According to one of the speakers the essence of the paper is that “things often look impossible unless we give up some things.”

Participants in the panel:

Victor L. L. Chu, Chairman, First Eastern, Investment Group

Sean Cleary, Chairman, Strategic Concepts, South Africa; Executive Vice Chair, Future World Foundation, Switzerland

Kunio Mikuriya, Secretary General, World Customs Organization

Wolfgang Schüssel, Former Federal Chancellor, Austria


Stephan Richter, President, The Globalist Research Center

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