The world is facing constant changes of all kinds and, as a system, we humans are part of it. There are some issues in our globe that go beyond national borders and must be solved or cared by everyone, therefore it is imperative the cooperation of every country, and willingness to do something. That’s the reason why global governance came to existence.
Global governance wants to tackle global problems by making norms (outlooks of what is supposed to be habitual or ordinary), laws (a set of mandatory rules) and rules (instructions of how something must be done) through international institutions like the UN. It may seem something easy to do and coordinate, but the reality is different because of the interrelation of the global systems.
The United Nations (UN) was founded in 1945 to save future generations from conflicts like WWI and WWII. Representatives of 50 countries gathered in San Francisco to establish the organisation and write the UN Charter. Eventually more countries became members of the UN, especially in the second half of the 20th century. At the present time there are 193 members.
The UN has five main organs: General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council, International Court of Justice and Secretariat. In the General Assembly each country has a representative who is a key player in the decision making. There are other specialized agencies, funds and programmes known as UN family helping the organisation with specific topics like UNICEF, FAO, IMF and WHO (just to mention a few).
But, what exactly do the United Nations do? They try to maintain international peace and security, protect human rights, deliver humanitarian aid, promote sustainable development and defend international law. These are common problems that need to be resolved. How do they try to solve them? Through international agreements, policies, treaties and strategies.
In the year 2000, the United Nations Millennium Development Goals attempted to reduce or eliminate eight global problems -like hunger or diseases- by the year 2015. In 2015, they realised that further progress was needed so the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda appeared with 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This new agenda promotes the economic growth and strategies to solve social issues in a way that we could also improve our actual environmental problems by the year 2030.
This is not something easy to achieve because each country is different with difficulties that need to be attended by their governments (local, regional and national). What does this mean? The UN agenda has set the goals and the details of how to make them possible, along with policies and strategies. So, it is the job of national governments to capture the idea of the agenda and find the way to align it with their plans or -if necessary- restructure their policies; it doesn’t make sense if all the efforts to write this agenda and studies of the actual issues in our globe ended up in nothing. That’s is why at beginning of the article it was said that cooperation is fundamental.
Here’s an example of a developing country. The Philippines is an active country in the UN, especially in the Security council and human rights council. However, they have gone through very hard times after their dictatorship and even though the economy of the country improved in the beginning of the 21st century they still have social, political and economic problems, and hard competition with emerging economies in Asia such as China and India. These problems have led to the migration of its citizens to other countries like Malta, Middle East or the US. It is important to ameliorate their laws and economic and social issues to accomplish the goals in the UN agenda.
There is a specific case in the Philippines in which we can see how the global governance work. Laguna Lake is the largest lake in the country which has been seriously polluted because of rapid development, sewage, industry and overfishing. This environmental problem affects the health and quality of life of the people around, and important activities like fishing. In this case the UN Environment has studied the place and the lake to give policy recommendations to the government to take immediate action due to the condition of this natural body. The government has created some agencies to -specifically- assist this situation; they have made a master plan to restore the lake including the education of the inhabitants around it to teach them the importance of it.
As globalisation increases, global governance must find the way to keep up the pace of the processes involved and the systems. The UN is not the only example of global governance, the World Trade Organisation is also part of this in the economic matter which sometimes might create inequalities among developing and least developed countries due to unfair agreements.
At this point you might be wondering whether the global governance is more important than national governments. Is the power of national government’s shrinking? Cooperation among nations it is constantly forgotten by everyone because of self-interests and self-benefits. We tend to see everything as a competition and not as a path to accomplish common goals to improve the quality of our lives and the quality of our environment. The purpose of global governance is to tackle shared problems of the world and to do so, it needs to work hand by hand with national governments, as national governments need regional and local ones to accomplish the country’s plans, and -of course- the cooperation of their people.