Research Handbooks on Globalisation and the Law series
Edited by Sabino Cassese
Chapter 23: Governing the world
The contemporary, now global Westphalian system – what colloquially is called the world community – has striven to curtail the anarchical nature of the world with an extensive network of international legal and organizational structures designed to foster open trade and a stable international financial system, establish accepted principles of resolving international disputes, and set limits on the conduct of wars when they do occur. This system of states now encompasses every culture and region. Its institutions have provided the neutral framework for the interactions of diverse societies – to a large extent independent of their respective values. The international economic system has become global, while the political structure of the world has remained based on the nation-state. [T]he nature of the state itself – the basic formal unit of international life – has been subjected to a multitude of pressures: attacked and dismantled by design, in some regions corroded from neglect, often submerged by the sheer rush of events. These three quotations from the latest book written by the political scientist and diplomat Henry Kissinger highlight the basic dilemma of the contemporary world: a process of globalization is developing, a process that is binding on national governments, but also one that is mainly economic; in the meantime, the old sovereigns – the States – are no longer in command. Thus arises a question: who runs the world – strong multinationals, States, or global regulators? Is there a world government, or there is governance without government? This examination will commence with some empirical evidence.
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