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 8: Global governance and the challenges of diversity

Colleen Carroll and Emilie Bécault

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


‘Global governance’ is an imposing term. It wraps together two huge concepts that are interpreted and defined in various lights, and connects these words to the wider study of an even more daunting concept: globalization. As demonstrated in the preceding chapters, the weight of the phrase ‘global governance’ looms over environmental, economic, human rights and security studies. But as Krahmann (2003, 340) duly notes, in the study of global governance there is a ‘conceptual confusion within and across levels of analysis’. Sifting through literature on the topic, three overarching categories of analysis emerge: the first explores global governance as a heuristic or rhetorical device; the second category hones in on specific characteristics of global governance; and the third set of analyses frames issues in light of a particular global governance system. A vast amount of energy is dedicated to defining ‘global’, ‘governance’ and the phrase ‘global governance’. Efforts in this realm are many, ranging from Finkelstein’s (1995) five-page definition, to Rhodes’s (1996) six-category depiction of governance, to Weiss’s (2000) detailed breakdown of global governance as understood by various international organizations. Scholars making progress with this task identify the surplus of definitions of global governance, often connecting the concept to earlier notions of government, hierarchical government structures and state power. Treib et al. (2007) describe a tendency towards defining (global) governance in terms of politics, polity or policy dimensions, and identify authors promoting and adhering to these definitions.

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