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Global governance working group - Copenhagen

  • Date(s)
    28 May 2004
  • Location

The working group on global governance held its third meeting - Global Governance: Institutional reforms or changing philosophy? - on 28th and 29th of May in Copenhagen (Denmark), co-organised with Poul Nyrup Rasmussen and the Global Progressive Forum.

After having discussed and identified over the last four months the key challenges progressives have to deal with at a global level, the group now concentrated on a number of specific questions that progressives should confront during the reform process.

The first session of this meeting focused on the reform of the Bretton Woods institutions. A discussion paper, produced by Kemal Derviş (former Vice-President of the World Bank and Co-Chair of Policy Network’s global governance working group) – of which a shorter version is published in Policy Network’s latest journal Progressive Politics - offered a diagnosis of the problems these institutions face, and made some concrete proposals for their reform.

Kemal Derviş stressed that the question of legitimacy is at the heart of the ‘international system’ and that renewing and reinforcing multilateralism in a system of multi-level governance should be at the top of the political agenda. The strong proposal of creating a UN Economic and Social Council has been explored further and made more precise, accurately describing a balanced representation with a system of weighted votes and constituencies as well as its functioning and mission.

Participants highlighted that a renewed United Nations system should be the broad legitimising umbrella for both the political/security sphere and the economic/social sphere, embedding all specified agencies and institutions such as the IMF, World Bank and the WTO. Furthermore, particular attention should be paid to the lack of political will which constitutes a serious obstacle to reform international institutions. Another major challenge has therefore to be tackled: how to gather support and create momentum for the implementation of the existing proposals.

The second session addressed whether we need a new more urgent approach to the global problems we face. Jean-François Rischard (Vice-President for Europe at the World Bank) outlined the 20 most pressing global issues for the world community and presented new methods and concepts of the global problem-solving process.

With other alternative approaches, for example ‘G20-type Groupings’ or ‘New Diplomacy and Expanded Aid Concepts’, the idea of ‘Global Issues Networks’ (GINs) aims to disseminate new ways of thinking in global governance: Permanent GINs, for example, would ideally be created for each global issue, launched by a multilateral as facilitator and organised in a tripartite form (public, private and civil society). They would not legislate but put the necessary pressure on countries to enact conforming international legislation.

The global governance working group has taken this discussion forward and debated how networks, clubs, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society could play a more central role at the global level. Although international organisations, such as the UN, WTO and so on, remain the only legitimate and therefore decisive institutions for improving norms and international legislation, alternative approaches are complementary to the current international set-up and need to be developed further.

The working group will continue its work at its fourth meeting, which will take place in Istanbul, and concentrate on questions of the wider security debate. More information on this forthcoming session will be available on this website shortly. For enquiries about Policy Network’s work on global governance please write to info@policy-network.net.

The meeting in Copenhagen was attended by:

Matt Browne (Director of Policy Network)
Indrajit Coomaraswamy (Director, Economic Affairs Division, Commonwealth Secretariat)
Olaf Cramme (Researcher at Policy Network)
Kemal Derviş (Member of the Turkish Parliament and former Vice-President of the World Bank)
Stephany Griffith-Jones (Professorial Fellow at Sussex University’s Institute of Development Studies)
Reinhard Hesse (Speechwriter to Gerhard Schröder and adviser to the political planning unit)
Eric Joyce (Member of Parliament, UK, and PPS at the Foreign Office)
Johannes Kindler (Deputy Director General of the German Chancellery)
François Lafond (Deputy Director of Policy Network)
Flemming Larsen (Director of the IMF’s three European offices)
Philippe Legrain (Chief economist at Britain in Europe)
Poul Nyrup Rasmussen (President of the Party of European Socialists and former Prime Minister of Denmark)
Jean-François Rischard (World Bank's first Vice-President for Europe)
Maria João Rodrigues (President of the EC’s social science advisory board and Member of the EC advisory group on economic analysis)
Anders Sjöberg (Deputy Director at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Department for Global Development, Sweden)
Bernard Soulage (French Socialist Party, specialist economic affairs)
Michiel van Hulten (Vice-Chair of Policy Network)

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