Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Divided Nations: Why Global Governance Is Failing, and What We Can Do about It: Books

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Divided Nations: Why Global Governance Is Failing, and What We Can Do about It: Books

Article excerpt

Divided Nations: Why Global Governance Is Failing, and What We Can Do about It. By Ian Goldin.Oxford University Press.224pp, Pounds 12.99.ISBN 9780199693900.Published 14 March 2013

By focusing on the financial crisis, climate change, cybersecurity, pandemics and migration, Divided Nations provides a state-of-the-art view of contemporary issues in global cooperation. Ian Goldin's basic message is that today's global institutions are not fit for 21st-century purpose. For this well-documented and insightful essay, the author brings to bear much of his experience as a former practitioner in international institutions and in the South African government. He offers both a diagnosis and a regimen for better global governance.

Big multilateral organisations such as the United Nations and the World Bank are often too slow and bureaucratic for this rapidly changing world. Bodies such as the International Monetary Fund and the G8 lack the legitimacy and inclusiveness to speak for all. Moreover, institutions dominated by the most powerful states tend to leave the latter off the hook when they build up major problems: the IMF-US and IMF-China relationships are cases in point. Policy domains such as environment and migration, moreover, lack a central and effective institutional home. In the meantime, global trade and climate talks seem deadlocked. The mismatch between global interconnectivity and global governance allows cybercriminals to operate from those countries with the weakest regulation. National sovereignty, economic-liberal orthodoxy and inequality between nations often stand in the way of cooperation.

The author presents interesting arguments about what individuals and their networks can achieve in today's hyper-connected world, for good and for bad. Ordinary people can hold mighty governments and companies to account in spectacular ways, and even unleash revolutions. Information, communication and transport technologies have multiplied citizens' capabilities to act. The flip side, of course, is the harm individuals can do, for example by developing computer viruses, or pathogens to be used as biological weapons. This democratisation will be a key element in solving global issues by unleashing creative potential or building pressure. …

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