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 5: Democratic global (economic) governance and the emergence of the G20

Sven Van Kerckhoven and Christophe Crombez

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


Over the last decades, economic decision-making powers have slipped away from nation-states’ governments to many other actors. This has been the result of the accelerating economic globalization and the ever increasing interlinkages between economies. Globalization has hence put the traditional nation-state-based governance arrangements on shaky grounds, as individual countries’ ability to solitarily address issues has greatly diminished. Cooper (1968, 262), for example, concludes that, ‘[Globalization] is prompting significant shifts in sites of political authority, upwards to newly empowered supranational institutions, downwards to revitalized regions, provinces and municipalities, and laterally to private corporations and non-governmental organizations that acquire public responsibilities’ (cited in Lake 2006, 769). Consequently, Kindleberger (1969, 207) observes that, ‘the nation state is just about through as an economic unit’. The failure of nation-states to remain ‘the only game in town’ has important consequences for the study of (economic) governance, which traditionally focuses on decision-making within nation-states. Research now must deal with the wide variety of global governance arrangements that have emerged in order to address an ever broader spectrum of (economic) issues. Nonetheless, the study of (political) economics has so far fallen short in analysing and evaluating global governance and its democratic credentials (Van Kerckhoven 2012). This is problematic as many of the current global governance arrangements, such as international institutions, are often perceived to suffer from a democratic deficit (Dahl 1999; for a more critical perspective, see Crombez 2003). Rodrik (2011) provides one of the few economic analyses of democratic global governance.

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