of Handling Global Issues
Aren't Up to the Job
The complexity of many global issues and their lack of boundaries don't sit well with the territorial and hierarchical institutions that are supposed to solve them: the nation-states. 1 Nation-states know this, and historically their reaction has been to try to respond through treaties and conventions. But they have moved beyond this and created three more contraptions: big intergovernmental conferences, G7-type groupings, and an array of forty or so international institutions that I call "global multilaterals." The international problem-solving setup thus has four parts. Yet none of the parts quite hacks it when it comes to seriously and proactively tackling inherently global issues, and doing it fast.
Treaties and conventions can work well for bilateral or regional matters but have a very mixed record for global ones. What's more, the ritualistic methods and glacial pace of global treaty making and ratification are not in tune with today's burning global issues, and many of these issues haven't been suitable for treaty making at all.