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  • Writer's pictureHerve Azoulay

Global Governance in Transition: Towards a Multipolar Governance

The United Nation's global regulatory system is no longer commensurate with the challenges of humanity. UN institutions no longer convince because the scope of their interventions lacks efficiency and coordination. Meanwhile, the rapidity of technological advancements has often surpassed the capability of existing global governance mechanisms to keep pace. Hence, it is crucial to adjust existing governance mechanisms and ensure they are up to the challenges of our time. In my latest book, Global Governance in Transition: Towards Multipolar Cooperation, I challenge the hegemony of Western globalism in an attempt to start a fresh conversation on alternative models of global governance.

The reasons for this transition: the lack of effective organizations

After World War II, delegations from the victorious allied countries came together to establish new institutions to replace the failing League of Nations and prevent the economic crisis that marked the interwar period. From these negotiations, most of which took place in the United States, emerged the multilateral institutions that would shape economic and political relations: the United Nations (UN), with its Security Council. The UN has become a compass pointing south and an uncontrollable nebula. This aging institution comprises 193 states and sometimes passes resolutions that are downright aberrant. Today, we know perfectly well that the challenges we face are substantial and that the current organization of the UN, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Health Organisation (WHO), and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) will not be able to address them.

The UN is an international organization that brings together most of the world's countries and aims to promote international cooperation, peace, security, and sustainable development. However, these bodies are forums for deliberation and decision-making where member states participate and act according to their national interests. Therefore, the UN is fundamentally an intergovernmental organization and does not possess the characteristics of a world government with supranational executive or legislative powers. While it plays a significant role in global affairs, it is generally considered that the UN does not constitute a complete global governance.

UN institutions no longer convince because the scope of their interventions lacks efficiency and coordination. The Syrian crisis serves as a reminder of this, as does the failure of recent climate conferences. These institutions are asked to perform functions that are beyond their mandate. They were created at a time when the focus was on promoting growth and prosperity through increased trade, in other words, ensuring peace through economic interdependence. Believing in the UN's responsibility for peace and justice is a farce because among the numerous human rights committees are Venezuela, Pakistan, Iran... even the executive committee includes the Islamic Republic of Iran, in charge of gender equality! Almost every year and systematically, Israel has been the most condemned country by the UN, despite the wars in Syria, Yemen, and Sudan. Inequality is evident in the differential treatment based on a country's power status; it's grotesque, but that's how it is, and once again, the UN loses credibility. The current imbalanced modes of regulation, favouring the most powerful actors, do not confer real legitimacy to this governance. That's why the rules will have to be changed. None of this is surprising because, in general, all large bureaucratic and pyramidal organizations are like this: incompetent, corruptive, cumbersome, and inefficient.

The UN and its Satellites: A Heavy Bureaucracy

Civil wars persist in lawless regions such as Central and Eastern Africa and the Middle East. While the number of traditional conflicts between states has significantly decreased in recent years, current conflicts remain violent and increasingly impact civilian populations and the most vulnerable regions. These areas remain deeply entrenched in perpetual crises, hindered by authoritarian regimes leading their populations into miserable conditions. The wars and conflicts we face have diverse causes: economic inequalities, social conflicts, religious sectarianism, territorial disputes, control over fundamental resources such as water and natural resources. In all cases, they illustrate a profound crisis within the UN and its satellites, including the IMF, the World Bank, and the WHO.

When a war breaks out somewhere in the world, the UN tries to end it, primarily through discussion. However, often this leads to failure, and the UN may decide to prohibit any relationship with the aggressor country (this is an embargo) or authorize military intervention. It can also deploy soldiers, known as Blue Helmets, to enforce a ceasefire. Our elders had learned from the failure of the League of Nations to establish the UN. The United Nations system and its economic pillars lasted three-quarters of a century, and it is evident that it reflects a world that is now outdated. The UN's global regulatory system is no longer commensurate with the challenges of humanity, and the gap is widening day by day between the peoples of the world. Despite the severity of the situation, and despite international conferences and speeches, no effective regulatory mechanism, up to the challenges and stakes, has emerged.

The Progress of Science: A Revolution Among Nations

And yet, the lightning-fast progress of science and technology since the 1990s has undeniably played a crucial role in the evolution and orientation of the governance of multinational corporations, and to a much lesser extent, in global institutions. These technological advances have created a constantly evolving global landscape, presenting unique challenges and opportunities that profoundly influence how we manage our societies and affairs on a global scale. The impact of these technological advancements is vast and multifaceted. On one hand, they have facilitated communication and cooperation among nations, creating opportunities for more efficient cross-border collaboration. On the other hand, they have raised crucial questions regarding privacy, security, ethics, and fairness, necessitating continuous review and adaptation of governance structures.

However, the rapidity of technological advancements has often surpassed the capability of existing global governance mechanisms to keep pace. These mechanisms are often characterized by slow bureaucratic processes, diverging national interests, and reluctances to modify established structures. Information and communication technologies, for instance, have given rise to challenges such as widespread misinformation, cyberattacks, and public opinion polarization. These challenges transcend national borders and require coordinated global responses. However, the establishment of effective global regulations and standards proves difficult due to ideological, political, and economic differences among nations.

It is therefore imperative for global governance mechanisms to evolve and adapt to meet the needs of our rapidly changing technological era. This includes a revision of standards and regulations, enhancing international cooperation, and increasing transparency. Moreover, it is essential to encourage active participation of stakeholders, including civil society, the private sector, and non-governmental organizations, in decision-making and the implementation of global policies. Hence, it is crucial to adjust existing governance mechanisms, promote increased international cooperation, and ensure that global governance structures are up to the challenges of our time.

A New Global Governance: A New Book Addressing This Change

In a constantly changing world, where political, economic, and social upheavals occur at a frenetic pace, the quest for fair and peaceful global governance becomes a major concern. In this new book, Global Governance in Transition: Towards Multipolar Cooperation, we embark on an intellectual journey to explore the crucial issues arising from the current polarization of Western democracies. For decades, the West positioned itself as the main driver of globalization, proudly upholding the banner of democratic values and human rights. However, over time, this apparent unity gradually eroded, giving way to profound ideological divergences within Western societies. The rise of nationalism, individualism, and identity fractures increasingly threatened this unified worldview.

In the early chapters of this book, we meticulously examine the forces that led to the fragmentation of the globalist West and the emergence of opposing currents, such as the anti-globalist West and the identity-focused West. We analyse the tensions and challenges that ensue, highlighting their impact on stability and cohesion at both the national and international levels. Furthermore, we delve into major international institutions such as the UN, the IMF, and the World Bank, created in the aftermath of World War II by the West, with the ambition of forging unified global governance. However, despite their noble goals, we study the reasons for their relative ineffectiveness and how they have sometimes been perceived as tools of domination rather than cooperation.

In the interest of fairness, we explore the advantages and disadvantages of the Western model in terms of democracy and human rights. We acknowledge the considerable progress made by Western democracies in terms of freedom and advancement, but we also address their limits and imperfections, which have garnered criticism and questioning worldwide. Faced with these complex developments, we take a comparative approach by examining the Chinese model, an emerging alternative to Western globalization. We delve into its unique political organization and ancient culture, which have contributed to China's rise on the world stage, offering a new paradigm for global governance.

As a response to Western hegemony, we study the formation of the BRICS, an alliance of emerging countries including China, India, and other nations. These emerging powers have come together to challenge the established world order, emphasizing the need for enhanced collaboration among nations to create a more equitable and harmonious world. Finally, we propose a bold and innovative vision of a global governance of nations. Through geopolitics and systems thinking, we divide the world into five geographic zones, thus decentralizing power. Each zone will have a major power representing it and participating in the overall management of international affairs. A central, lightweight, and functional network will harmoniously coordinate these zones while respecting their autonomy and diversity. This work aspires to open new perspectives for a fairer and more peaceful world by challenging the hegemony of Western globalism and exploring alternative models of global governance. It is an invitation to deep reflection on current challenges and the search for creative solutions to shape a future where universal values of cooperation and mutual respect will guide our collective actions.

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