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2021 Debate Insights

Is This the End of Global Governance?

Author: Sciences Po student Wong Jing Syuan summarizes the debate session of the fourth edition of the Paris Peace Forum

Date: 13 November 2021


Is This the End of Global Governance?

US-China rivalry, climate deterioration, and Covid nationalism… the end of global governance seems to be on the horizon. But there might be other potential global governance opportunities to be explored to offer truly global solutions for the collective self.

The current international order is governed by a system that was created in 1945, after the Second World War. The session thus raised the question of whether this system
can continue to offer global solutions to the global issues that we are all facing. While UN Security Council seems to prioritize power politics over global governance, regionalism, bilateral agreements, and multi-polar global order (including non-state actors) were proposed by the panelists as the better alternatives to be explored.

The first panelist, Dr. Dino Patti Djalal, former Indonesian Ambassador to the United States and Founder of Foreign Policy Community of Indonesia (FPCI), pinpoints the heart of the global governance demise, which is the fall of the rule-based global order by double standards. In his own words, while “countries like Indonesia, and many countries in the Global South, believe that there must be a rule-based global order,” many feel that “the rule-based orders…are full of inconsistencies and… double standards.” Concretely, the current global order is characterized by instances of “countries that call for it…when it is inconvenient for them to apply it… [yet when it] is against their interests, then they look the other way, or they don’t apply it. And it is the source of frustration for many countries.”

Dr. Dino Patti Djalal continued to explain that due to this lack of global “means to get things done,…regionalism and bilateralism delivers more at the moment than multilateralism.”

Building on Dr. Dino Patti Djalal’s points, Celso Amorim, the former Brazilian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Defense, argues that “having a strong regional cooperation” is important, but it does not discount the importance of “having a strong global cooperation.” He further emphasized the crucial complementarity of global plans and local action, articulating the Amazon, the Arctic, and the possession of nuclear weapons as both local and global problems at the same time, that should be addressed by a truly multipolar world order, instead of one that serves the interests of some powers. While “having a new San Francisco meeting might be exaggerating, we definitely need some inputs and efforts in order to reorganize our institutions” to address “all these problems that need to be dealt with adequately within these structures.”

The moderator, Dr. Anne Marie Slaughter, responded to this call by praising the Paris Peace Forum as a first step to reach the goal of a genuinely democratic global governance by “building structures alongside and indeed on top of the current structure that we have.”
To push the goals further, Igor Yurgens, the Chairman of the Institute for Contemporary Development in Russia, reminds us of the crucial roles of the youth that have been born in an interconnected world. To characterize the Russian youth, Mr. Yurgens quoted French President Emmanuel Macron, stating “nationalism is the betrayal of patriotism,” and argued that the youth in Russia express patriotism in a much more cosmopolitan and global manner than previous generations.

According to Mr. Yurgens, “Russia is a philosophical motherland of anarchism.” In this context, Mr. Yurgens defines anarchy as decentralized power, expressed by regionalism and municipal governance. A trend that is further enhanced by technological development. Mr. Yurgens sums up his analysis by arguing that while “the states would still play important roles in equalizing the chances between the rich and the poor,… with technical breakthroughs,…young generations, if well-educated, would manage much better than we without NATO or Warsaw Pact.”

Last but not least, Mabel Miao, the co-founder and Secretary General of the Center for
China and Globalization in China, argues that contrary to many speculations, “US and China are trying to turn their bilateral relation into a multilateral one.” She referenced the African continent and the global infrastructural programs of both China and the US, the One-Belt-One-Road Initiative, and Build-Back-Batter Initiative respectively.

To conclude, the current system of global governance is challenged by power politics, nationalist discourses, and the blame-game. But climate change and Covid-19, as other instances, have repeatedly reminded us of the importance and urgency of implementing global solutions. To repair the paralyzed global governance, panelists refer to regionalism, multipolar rule-based global order, the youth and technology.


Contribution by Wong Jing Syuan

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