Rethinking global governance

Discussion Paper

Peace, Security & Defence

It is a dangerous paradox: multilateralism is in retreat just when collective action is most desperately needed to tackle complex and interconnected global challenges, including the climate crisis.

The many challenges facing traditional global governance institutions, including the World Trade Organization (WTO), are certainly cause for concern. Multilateral rules and codes of conduct, agreed upon over the years, have inspired international cooperation and helped nations to live in relative peace – and become more prosperous.

Times have changed, however. Supranational bodies set up in the aftermath of the Second World War – and largely reflecting the need to keep peace between Western powers – are under pressure to become more inclusive.

US President Donald Trump’s ‘America First’ policies, including a retreat from international initiatives such as the Paris Climate Accord, have strained global governance structures.

Emerging nations are demanding more attention and a stronger voice in the running of global affairs. Demands from China, India and Brazil for a stronger international rule-making role have therefore added to the drive for global governance reform.

Also significant is the fact that while global concerns continue to focus on security and trade, new areas demanding collective action now include hybrid threats, connectivity, information-sharing, human rights and cyber security.

However, institutional reform and change are easier said than done: this time around, governments cannot do it on their own. Stakeholders from beyond politics will need to be consulted and brought on board.

This publication is about just such voices. It includes perspectives and recommendations from ‘unusual suspects’ including think tankers, academics, activists, journalists and representatives of the private sector.

We asked our contributors for original ideas, creative thinking and bold recommendations. We also asked them just how, where and why the European Union and its Asian partners could play a role in reviving global governance.

Based on their various insights, Friends of Europe has drawn out several common threads to identify overarching recommendations to make a new rules-based order which works for everyone.

We hope this publication, a part of Friends of Europe’s Asia Programme, provides food for thought as global leaders look for solutions to the world’s many complex challenges.

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