2. Global Governance
3. The United Nations Organization
These days Globalization is on everyone’s lips. Technical progress and international trade connect humanity in a way it was never connected before. We enjoy the convenience of being able to purchase foreign goods in domestic supermarkets; access voices from around the world on the Internet and even travel relatively cheaply to faraway regions ourselves. But on the other hand, we are concerned about domestic companies outsourcing to foreign countries (in order to take advantage of foreign law and labor) and decisions that are made abroad, because we know about the; as Kofi Annan, former General-Secretary of the United Nations, put it in his Nobel Prize speech; “Butterfly Effect of human activity” [nobelprize.org].
The inevitable transnationalization of troubles we face today (such as environmental issues like the Global Warming that affect every single inhabitant of the planet, the Global Financial Crisis of 2008, international organized crime groups whose actions cut across national borders and many more) can logically be handled best from a transnational or respectively supranational position. The keyword is Global Governance.
Within this paper I will examine the importance of the United Nations Organization (also referred to as “United Nations”, “UNO” and “UN”) in regard to Global Governance (also called “GG” later on). In order to do so, I will first have a closer look on the concept and structure of Global Governance and leave the analysis of the United Nations to the main part of the essay. There I will take a look at the UN’s mission and position in the global community based on concrete examples. And finally I will formulate a conclusion which includes the answer of the lead-question.
“Who rules the world?” cannot be answered as easily as the question on official leadership of a certain country, because there simply is no such thing as a world state and a world government, but that does not mean that it cannot be answered at all, since “government is not synonymous with governance” [Magone, 2009: 23] and the predominant problem in International Relations today is concerned with finding the most efficient and legitimate way to govern “beyond the state” [Conzelmann, 2006:17] in order to deal with the global issues of our time.
The actors of International Relations are generally defined as legal entities that are able to affect international conditions. The most prominent of them are traditionally the (legal representatives of) sovereign states, followed by international governmental organizations (IGOs) and completed by the increasingly important (international) non-governmental organizations ((I)NGOs) that represent the political interests of commercial- (transnational/multinational corporations (TNCs/MNCs), “global players”, such as Nestle or Siemens) and non-profit (transnational organizations (TNOs), such as Greenpeace or Oxfam) groups [Zangl; Zürn, 2003: 60f].
Over time, there have been established numerous international (inter-state) and transnational (inter-society) institutions that are dedicated to GG. These can be distinguished into four types according to their main characteristics:
First of all, there are the ‘principles of order’ (#1) that set basic, quasi-constitutional norms for international politics, such as the ‘sovereignty of states’, ‘pacta sunt servanda’ (international) and ‘tolerance of cultures’ (transnational). Second institution type is the networks (#2), such as the G8 on the international and the Climate Action Network on the transnational level, which have procedural norms and rules that obligate their participants to exchange information concerning their -freely chosen- policies on arbitrary topics. The third type are ‘regimes’ (#3), such as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, that are characterized as institutions that are based on procedural rules and standards and specialized in a certain field of activity. And finally there are the ‘organizations’ (#4), such as the United Nations Organization, the European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the World Trade Organization (international), the World Wildlife Fund, Transparency International (transnational) and many more, that are not necessarily dedicated to one field and that are based on laws that, in contrast to all other types of institutions, empower these organizations to execute by themselves [ibid: 158f; Zürn, 1998: 176].