Global Governance: Political


The United Nations


  • Established in 1945 in response to the global suffering of WW2
  • Therefore its purpose was to encourage greater co-operation between states to establish a system of global security that could resolve crisises

UN Charter 

  • to save succeeding generatiobs from the scourge of war by encouraging the collective resolution of conflicts 
  • to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small
  • to ensure respect for international law 
  • to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom
  • 1948 = UN Declaration of Human Rights

Liberal institution of global governance - yet it is undermined by the role of state egoism and sovereignty

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The United Nations


SECURITY COUNCIL = enforce global peace and security; 15 nations sit in New York but only 5 with permanement veto members and the other 10 are elected for 2 year terms - pass binding resolutions 

  • Veto powers of 5 permanent members shows clarity over leadership
  • small membership means ease of convening in an international crisis 
  • unanimity for military action means the case must be convining (2003 - were unconvinced for Anglo-American action in Iraq) 
  • enlargement would make it more complecated 
  • unanimity means consenus on military action is rarely reached 
  • permanent members do not reflect todays balance of power = legitimact is questioned 
  • unable to deploy a body of standing troops = many lives have been lost by the time the 'blue helmet' peacekeepers have been donated by member states 
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The United Nations


  • Emerging powers such as Brazil, India, Japan and Germany could be represented on the SC in order to provide contemporary legitimacy 
  • enlarging membership of the SC would better represent global opinion 
  • voting within the SC should be a qualified majority - eliminating veto would make it quicker and easier to implement military action in a security emergency 
  • own rapid reaction force the SC would be able to intervence quicker in emergancies

GENERAL ASSEMBLY = all 193 members of the UN are in the GA, with each state having an equal vote and need 2/3 agreement yet findings are non-binding and lack for force so more deliberative than legislative 

  • only global forum for multi national debate of international issues - closest form of a 'parliament of nations'
  • based on the sovereign equality of all nation states - each state is equal meaning powerful states cannot dominate 
  • marginal powers can be heard - global response to climate change 
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The United Nations

  • often criticised for being a 'talk shop' which is irrelevant to pressing global issues 
  • equality of states means a consensus is hard to achieve 
  • resolutions are non binding and unenforcable which means its credibility is undermined 

INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE = also known as the World Court sits in the Hague with 15 judges elected by the SC and GA for 9 year terms - arbitrate cases by UN nations and deliver advisory opinions 

  • The 15 judges represent the main forms of civilisation and the principle of the legal systems of the world - most advanced judicial organ for the implementation of international law and a key organ of global governance 
  • carries significant moral authority as nation states do not wish to be criticised applying a more 'rules based' approach to conflict resolution 
  • liberal principles conflict with state egoism which promotes the neglect of ICJ rulings if not within a state's interests 
  • only 72/193 have agreed in adavance to rulings and then it even lacks coercive power to enforce
  • cannot initiate cases, only when requested and only result in adviory opinions 
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The United Nations

ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL (ECOSOC) = its 54 members are elected by the GA with its role coordinating social and economic work of UN agencies as well as co-ordinating actions of the IMF, World Bank and WTO (bretton woods institutions) 

  • Co-ordinates the work of various aid organisaions all in different areas 
  • advanced the principle of development to not just mean economic but also human 
  • has a growing number of agencies to address problems (Environment programme/ UNICEF/ UNHCR/UNHRC/UNDP) 
  • given development greater global significance by establishing and publicising gloabal targets such as the Millenium Development Goals (2000-2015) and the Sustaianable Development Goals (2015-30)
  • bureaucratic, cumbersome - very little sense of strategic planning 
  • accused of being fragmented with different agencies trying to fufil the same role and competing for the same resources 
  • jurisdiction of agencies overlap meaning accountability is blurred 
  • role are less about merit and more about state equality 
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The United Nations


  • Peace keeping success - 1991 Iraqi safe havens, East Timor and Cote d'Ivoire 
  • YET - permanent 5 often put own strategic interests first and so consenus is unlikely - Rwandan genocide in 1994 or intervention in the Syrian Civil War since 2011
  • Peacekeeping has often been under resourced and lacked a robust mandate - Bosnian Civil War (1991-95); Democratic republic of Congo and Dafur


  • WHO, UNICEF, UNDP, IMF = these agencies coordinate efforts under the ECOSOC
  • UN MDGs and SDGs = provided important targets in reduction of global poverty and how it needs to be addressed not just economically 
  • YET - World systems theory suggests that the IMF and World Bank actually reinforce structural inequalities 
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The United Nations


  • 1948 UN Declaration of Human Rights estbalished moral goals that nations should aspire to 
  • UN tribuanal have prosecuted war crimes and the creation of the ICC in 2002 
  • 2005 'responsibility to protect' = inaguarated responsibility of intervention in preventable loss of life 
  • YET - limted by state egoism, sovereignty and realism 
  • UN declaration is only soft power and non-binding 
  • ICC requires consent from nation states to be effective - the largest members refuse to accept its jurisdictions (russia, china and us) 
  • Responsibility is often ignored (syria) because of conflict with westphalian principles of state sovereignty (realists - vital for stability)


  • UN intergovernmental panels and summits (kyoto 1997; copenhagen 2009; paris 2015 and katowice 2018) 
  • yet the UN lacks enforceable power 
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North Atlantic Treaty Organisation


  • estbalished in 1949 to protect the west from soviet agression - principle of collective secrurity (article 5) - combined response would deter soviet expansion 
  • COLD WAR = NATO provided western europe with military protection and was defensive in nature 
  • YET - its nece ssity was question with the fall of the USSR in 1991 
  • 'out of area ot out of existance' 


  • 1995 Bosnian Civil War - bombed bosnian serb positions - subsequent sighing of the Dayton Peace Accords (1995) 
  • 1999 NATO bombed Serbia to stopped act on Kosovo 
  • Bosnia and Kosoce - nation played a role in nation building once fighting had stopped 
  • 2001 - 2014 International Security Assistance Force played a role in supporting Afghan forces and then 2015 Operation Resolute support took over 
  • 2011 - Libya meant Gaddafi regime was overthrown 
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North Atlantic Treaty Organisation

  • 2009 - 2016 Operation Ocean Shield to end piracy in the Indian Ocean


  • NATO has expanded far into Eastern Europe (Baltic states and Poland) - conscious of the importance of collective security over their independance 
  • Under Putin, Russia has become more assertive - 2018 attacks on Georgia and 2014 annexation of Crimea - shows vunrability of russia's non-nato neighbours 
  • Failure to bring stability to Afgahanistan and Libya reinforces the idea that NATO has done too much and return to original purpose 


  • Maintain strong military leadership between US and Western Europe - less likely for the US to become isolationist, which could undermine European sovereignty 
  • Expansian reduces the risk of Russia's divide and conquer strategy
  • Defensive realists (kenneth waltz) say that NATO encourages peace by providing incentives for Russia to not threaten the West 
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North Atlantic Treaty Organisation

  • Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) is extremly flexible and adaptable 
  • Threats to the West are multi-directional ans they must present a united front 


  • Not all member states feel equally prepared to give or recieve collectice security if Russia threatens the more vunerable neighbours 
  • US complains that they are being freeloaded off within NATO as only 4 members spend more than 2% of their GDP and yet still claim benefits 
  • advances in cyber technology may be the agression of the future - regards to article 5 is uncertain
  • NATO's primary role could also be diluted by Jean-Claude Juncker's plans for European army 
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