Handbook on Multi-level Governance
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Handbook on Multi-level Governance

Edited by Henrik Enderlein, Sonja Wälti and Michael Zürn

Scholarship of multi-level governance has developed into one of the most innovative themes of research in political science and public policy. This accessible Handbook presents a thorough review of the wide-ranging literature, encompassing various theoretical and conceptual approaches to multi-level governance and their application to policy-making in domestic, regional and global contexts.
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Chapter 21: The Changing Role of the United Nations: Lessons for Multi-level Governance

Inge Kaul


Inge Kaul 21.1 INTRODUCTION Unlike the end of World War II, the Cold War’s end in 1990 did not generate a ‘San Francisco moment’ – there was no rebirth of the United Nations (UN) (Weiss 2009). This has come as a surprise to many. The end of the international community’s divide into East and West gave rise to hopes that in this new political era, long-avoided global challenges like world poverty, weapons proliferation, climate change, the creation of a multilateral free trade regime or the control of communicable diseases would finally be addressed in a decisive and effective manner – with the UN at the center of such a new, reinvigorated multilateralism. Yet, just the opposite is happening. Despite the growing importance of global challenges and a growing realization on the part of states, including the most powerful ones, that global challenges require global, multilateral policy responses, the top management of today’s UN struggles to prove the organization’s continuing relevance and retain the support of member states. The present chapter explores the reasons behind the non-occurrence of a ‘San Francisco Moment’ in the post-1990 era and asks what lessons about multi-level governance beyond the state can be drawn from this experience. For the purposes of this chapter the UN’s history is divided into a pre-1990 period and a post-1990 period. These two periods are examined in Sections 21.2 and 21.3, respectively. Section 21.4 distills the insights on multi-level governance gained from the discussion in the previous sections. The concluding section applies these...

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