Global Governance and Democracy

Global Governance and Democracy

A Multidisciplinary Analysis

Leuven Global Governance series

Edited by Jan Wouters, Antoon Braekman, Matthias Lievens and Emilie Bécault

Globalization needs effective global governance. The important question of whether this governance can also become democratic is, however, the subject of a political and academic debate that began only recently. This multidisciplinary book aims to move this conversation forward by drawing insights from international relations, political theory, international law and international political economy. Focusing on global environmental, economic, security and human rights governance, it sheds new light on the democratic deficit of existing global governance structures, and proposes a number of tools to overcome it.

Chapter 1: Introduction. Global governance and democracy: invitation to a multidisciplinary dialogue

Emilie Bécault, Matthias Lievens, Jan Wouters and Antoon Braeckman

Subjects: economics and finance, political economy, law - academic, regulation and governance, politics and public policy, international politics, international relations, political economy, regulation and governance


Since it was first introduced two decades ago by the writings of James Rosenau and the ‘Commission for Global governance’ (Rosenau and Czempiel 1992; Commission on Global Governance 1995), global governance has become a central topic of inquiry for a myriad of political scientists, legal scholars, economists and political philosophers. Spurred by a number of key global developments including the end of the Cold War, the skills revolution, economic globalization and the growing awareness of the dangers posed by some transnational problems, the concept of global governance has emerged as a useful analytical and normative tool for making sense of profound shifts sweeping the international political landscape (Weiss 2000, 796; Barnett and Sikkink 2008, 78; Kersbergen and Waarden 2004, 143). Chief among these shifts is the notion that states should, and can, no longer be regarded as the sole source of regulation at the global level. Increasingly, a wide range of actors – from individuals to local communities, to businesses, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and international organizations – are engaged in numerous governing-related activities, structuring and directing the behaviour of interdependent actors and resulting in some relatively novel modes of governance such as public–private partnerships, coalitions of subnational governments, informal groups of like-minded government officials, and private regulatory schemes. But, notwithstanding two decades of vibrant scholarship that spread over numerous literatures and disciplines, one can still observe several unresolved issues with regard to the study of global governance and especially with respect to its implications for thinking about democratic legitimacy.