Governance in World Affairs

Governance in World Affairs

Governance in World Affairs

Governance in World Affairs


In this book Oran Young extends and generalizes his earlier work on international environmental regimes to present a comprehensive account of the current status and future prospects of regime theory as a way of thinking about governance in world affairs.

Young organizes his assessment around two overarching issues. The first emphasizes the idea that regimes are dynamic systems. An understanding of regime formation is thus a springboard for inquiries into the effectiveness of these arrangements once they become operational and into the processes through which regimes change over time. The second stresses the importance of fostering a dialogue between scholars who espouse distinct ways of thinking about international institutions: the collective-action perspective arising from the fields of economics and public choice and the social-practice perspective associated with the fields of sociology and anthropology.

Within this framework, the book offers cutting-edge contributions regarding the tasksinstitutions perform, the effectiveness of regimes, institutional change, and linkages among distinct regimes.


The demand for governance in world affairs has never been greater. Broadly speaking, this development is a product of rising interdependencies among the members of international society and — to anticipate a phenomenon discussed later in this chapter — global civil society, which make it increasingly difficult for states or other autonomous actors to isolate themselves from events occurring in other parts of the world, however much they might wish to do so. The repercussions of upheavals such as the disintegration of the former Soviet Union and the bloody civil war in the former Yugoslavia are inescapable, even for those located at opposite ends of the Earth. The economic consequences of financial crises in East and Southeast Asia reverberate throughout the global economy. Greenhouse gases emitted anywhere in the world affect the global climate system. And these examples are merely illustrative of a broad range of developments that make it impossible for any state or other actor to isolate itself from the impacts of outside events in today's world.

The end of the cold war triggered a moment of euphoria during which it seemed that the emergence of a new world order was at hand and that the promise of the United Nations as an intergovernmental mechanism for solving problems of international governance would finally be realized. This bubble soon burst, however, giving way to mounting skepticism about the capacity of the United Nations to cope with an array of pressing problems. The failure of United Nations peacekeeping missions in Bosnia, Rwanda, and Somalia has raised profound questions about the ability of the organization to deal effectively with current threats to international peace and security. The pronounced tendency of the members of the group of seven leading industrial countries plus Russia (the G-8), the . . .

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