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date: 10 December 2023

Global Governancefree

Global Governancefree

  • Roberto DomínguezRoberto DomínguezDepartment of Government, Suffolk University
  •  and Rafael Velázquez FloresRafael Velázquez FloresFaculty of Economics and International Relations (FEyRI), University of Baja California


The goal of this article is to provide an overview of the literature on global governance, key elements for understanding its conceptualization, and a gateway to capture its multidimensionality. From this perspective, global governance is conceived as a framework of analysis or intellectual device to study the complexity of global processes involving multiple actors that interact at different levels of interest aggregation. The article is divided into four parts. The first section describes the origins, definitions, and characteristics of global governance. The second categorizes global governance based on different thematic areas where there is a confluence of governance practices, on the one hand, and the inclusion of a global level of interaction, on the other. The third discusses the different conceptual inquiries and innovations that have been developed around the term. Finally, the last part maps the different academic institutions that have focused their research on global governance and offer programs on this subject.


  • International Law
  • International Relations Theory

This article aims at explaining the development of the literature on global governance by providing a guide to understanding the evolution of its definitions, thematic applications, conceptual debates, and institutional developments. As the primary audience is scholars wishing to familiarize themselves with debates surrounding the topic, the article offers a gateway to capturing the multidimensionality of global governance. From this perspective and following its discussions, global governance is conceived as a framework of analysis or intellectual device for studying the complexity of global processes involving multiple actors that interact at different levels of interest aggregation.

The primary challenge of this article is to review a term that is amorphous (Zurn, 2012) and ubiquitous (Bevir, 2011). Global governance emerged as a practice and disciplinary field of inquiry as a product of the end of the Cold War, even though some early debates can be traced back to the late 1970s. The subsequent literature review is organized under the rationale that global governance is an analytical hub helping researchers and policymakers to explain and suggest new avenues of action in an increasingly interconnected world. A defining characteristic is that such interconnection blurs the distinction between public authority and private initiative, and steadily transforms the role of state and nonstate actors operating at different levels of analysis. Understanding global governance as an analytical hub allows grouping its extensive literature and interpreting the various adjectives that have been added to global governance over the years to adapt it to specific areas of human activity at the global level.

The unstructured and pervasive nature of global governance provides the potential for adopting a variety of forms to study it. This article begins with the identification of the main definitions and characteristics of global governance. The second section categorizes global governance based on different thematic areas where there is a confluence of governance practices, on the one hand, and the inclusion of a global level of interaction, on the other. The thematic criteria permit including an interdisciplinary perspective that enriches international relations in light of the evidence that governance practices at the global level operate in a wide range of areas. Later, the paper follows with the identification of some of the conceptual debates and innovations around global governance. The final section presents a survey of the institutions promoting the study of global governance.

Definitions and Characteristics: A New Framework For a Complex World

Globalization, technological change, and transformations in the international order have produced a puzzle that policymakers and scholars have been trying to disentangle since the end of the Cold War. While change is an inherent characteristic of the global system, each historical period experiences a particular articulation of dominant actors and prevailing environment. The arrival of global governance to the debates in international relations is not an exception. While global governance is associated with the transformations of the international system at the end of the 20th century, its roots are traced back to the gradual transformation that has taken place since the early 1970s, which includes the development of the consciousness about global environment, the increasing number of nonstate actors, and the enhancement of the UN system.

Some of the earliest scholarly references to global governance appeared in the mid-1970s. The journal Social Sciences Quarterly included several articles related to the scarcity of global resources and the creation of mechanisms to manage them in 1976. Nelson and Honnold (1976) studied the possibility of severe global resource scarcity. They argued that the aggregate individual sacrifice, long-term planning, and global governance are commonly the social responses, but they also require the systematic application of social sanctions to make them consistent with organizational regularities and reinforcement principles (Nelson & Honnold, 1976). By the end of the 1970s, Onuf (1979) made some references to the concept of global governance in his discussion of the absence of an international legal regime, noting the state of global anarchy while emphasizing the lack of scholarly explanation. In a semantic reflection on the nature of authority and order, and how it relates to sovereignty, Onuf asserted that such a dichotomy does not preclude the existence of some order in the global arena (Onuf, 1979).

During the 1980s and early 1990s, global governance was increasingly used to relate to a more complex international system, but it was not the central concept of analysis. Dator (1981, 2009) developed forecasting methods about alternative futures, archetypes, or images (continued growth, transformation, collapse, conserver/disciplined society) to help scholars and policymakers to explore the drivers, identify the emerging issues, and deconstruct/reconstruct models of development and power in global governance. Branscomb (1983) focused his research on the growing unregulated flow of data across borders and framed global governance as a mechanism which would contribute to regulating these data flows. After explaining the role of data in liberal societies, he provided some ideas about the role of global governance to develop regulatory data bodies. Senghaas (1993) also contributed to the analysis of global governance by exploring globalized problems such as climate conventions, responses to epidemics such as HIV/AIDS, and development regimes; his research lead him to explore the concept of a “world domestic policy” capable of addressing the global issues that the “sum of uncoordinated national policies” was no longer adequate to manage and ameliorate.

Incentivized by the uncertainties derived from the end of the Cold War, the theoretical mainstream in international relations gradually shifted away from the study of intergovernmental organizations, law, and world studies, which was seen as top-down and static, toward global governance (Weiss & Wilkinson, 2014). Alerted by the mismatch between new international challenges and lack of consistent responses from state and state oriented actors, James Rosenau and Ernst-Otto Czempiel sparked the debate on global governance after the publication of their theoretical collection of essays Governance without Government in 1992 (Rosenau & Czempiel, 1992). Global governance debates and studies experienced significant progress in 1995. The policy-oriented Commission on Global Governance, co-chaired by Swedish Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson and former Commonwealth Secretary-General Shridath Ramphal, published the report Our Global Neighborhood (Commission on Global Governance, 1995). Later, in the winter 1995–1996, the Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACNUS) and the United Nations University sponsored the launch of the journal Global Governance, which has pursued nonpartisan, intellectually challenging, and academically sound debates about global governance (Coate & Murphy, 1995).

The transformations of the international context sparked a vivid and active scholarly conversation about the definitions and characteristics of global governance. Like other complex phenomena, global governance has been defined in a variety of ways. Two of the definitions related in this article observe the role of international institutions. Thakur and Van Langenhove (2006) defined global governance as “The complex of formal and informal institutions, mechanisms, relationships, and processes between and among states, markets, citizens, and organizations—both intergovernmental and nongovernmental—through which collective interests are articulated, rights and obligations are established, and differences are mediated” (2006, p. 233). Rittberger (2002) presents a shorter definition stating that global governance “is the output of a nonhierarchical network of international and transnational institutions: not only IGOs and international regimes but also transnational regimes are regulating actors’ behavior” (2002, p. 2).

Definitions of global governance have also emphasized the role of collective goods. Risse defines governance as “the various institutionalized modes of social coordination to produce and implement collectively binding rules, or to provide collective goods” (Risse, 2012, p. 700), arguing that while the debate about global governance is focusing on governance without government and the rise of private authority in world politics, it is also based on the assumption that functioning states are capable of implementing and enforcing global norms and rules (Risse, 2011). Building on this, Zurn (2012) incorporates the element of regulations for transnational common goods. He states: “Global governance refers to the entirety of regulations [substantial norms, rules, and programs, the process by which they are adapted, monitored, and enforced, as well as the structures/institutions that house them] put forward with reference to solving specific denationalized and deregionalized problems or providing transnational common goods” (Zurn, 2012, p. 731).

Other definitions interoperate global governance as a mechanism for addressing and managing conflicts. Miller (2007) perceives global governance as “the resolution of conflicts over divergent interpretations of evidence constraining the exercise of power and authority” (2007, p. 327), while Castells (2005) briefly defines it as “the ability to manage the problems and issues of a world in turmoil” (2005, p. 12). From a different angle, Ikenberry’s definition considers the general orientation of global governance as a process: “It is the collective effort of people to facilitate the upside of openness and exchange in the global system, while working together to manage the downside. Thus global governance is, in effect, the management of liberal internationalism” (Ikenberry, 2014, p.18).

The previous definitions contribute to understanding the plasticity of the complex phenomenon that is global governance. Turning attention towards the characteristics, expressions, and elements of global governance provides a different perspective of analysis, which unpacks the essence of definitions. For the Commission on Global Security, Justice & Governance, the institutions of global governance are the “mechanisms for steering” states and societies toward the goals of global public policy, as expressed in the UN Charter and other key documents for global governance. These mechanisms of global governance encompass international, national, subnational and local actors, existing to provide public goods, which one can neither diminish availability to others through use, nor be excluded from using (Albright & Gambari, 2015).

Rittberger makes an important distinction between international and global governance. In his view, international governance is “the output of a non-hierarchical network of interlocking international (predominantly, but not exclusively, governmental) institutions which regulate the behavior of states and other international actors in different issue areas of world politics” (Rittberger, 2002, p. 2). In contrast to international governance, global governance is characterized by the decreased salience of states as well as the increased involvement of nonstate actors in the processes of establishing norms and rules, including compliance, monitoring, and contributing at multiple levels of policymaking (Rittberger, 2002). Weiss and Wilkinson (2014) have also identified some significant elements that describe global governance:


It refers to collective efforts to identify, understand, or address worldwide problems that transcend the capacities of individual states.


It reflects the capacity of the international system at any moment in time to provide government-like services in the absence of world government.


It encompasses a wide variety of cooperative problem-solving arrangements that are visible but informal (practices or guidelines) or were temporary formations (coalitions of the willing).


It also entails more formalized problem-solving arrangements and mechanisms, such as hard rules (laws and treaties) or institutions with administrative structures and established practices to manage collective affairs by a variety of actors—including state authorities, intergovernmental organizations, nongovernmental organizations, private sector entities, and other civil society actors (Weiss & Wilkinson, 2014).

Krahmann (2005) has expanded the explanations about the characteristics of global governance. She indicates that the shift from “government” to “governance” denotes the increasing fragmentation and reintegration of political authority among state and nonstate actors across levels of analysis along seven dimensions: geographical scope, functional scope, the distribution of resources, interests, norms, decision-making, and policy implementation (Krahmann, 2003). Particularly interesting is the reorientation characterized geographical fragmentation and integration away from the state as the central unit, which takes three forms: “downward” to local bodies, “upward” to international organizations, and “sideways” to private and voluntary actors.

As Krahmann (2005) indicates, one of the main characteristics of global governance is that it operates at different levels of political activity. Zurn (2012) specifically advances the understanding of global governance as a form of multilevel governance. Gary Marks initially characterized Multilevel Governance as the result of a “centrifugal process in which decision-making is spun away from member states in two directions,” namely, subnational and supranational (Marks, 1993, pp. 401–402). Reflecting on these different contexts within which the multilevel governance concept is discussed, Liesbet Hooghe and Gary Marks (2010) have proposed distinguishing different “types” of multilevel governance. The first type of governance conceives the dispersion of authority to jurisdictions at a limited number of levels (international, national, regional, meso, local). A second vision of governance is task-specific jurisdictions, intersecting memberships, and no limit to a number of jurisdictional levels (Hooghe & Marks, 2010).

Another perspective from which to observe different forms of global governance is based on a combination of unidirectional and multidirectional flows of authority, in conjunction with formal, informal, and mixed structures, as Kacowicz (2012) suggests. The combination of both axes produces six types of governance. Under the axis of unidirectional flows of authority, Kacowicz (2012) suggests top-down or hierarchical, in which institutions contract and outsource activities; bottom-up governance, where civil society and networks of advocacy develop positive incentives and bargaining; and market-type governance, which is a public-private network/partnership. Under the axis of multidirectional flow of governance, the other three types of governance are the following: network governance, which is hierarchical with governments/nation states at the top and NGOs and businesses at the bottom; side-by-side governance, with all levels working in tandem together; and finally web-network governance, which is a public-private network/partnership that is nonhierarchical and combines efforts from all parts of society, including the people (Kacowicz, 2012).

The variety of definitions provided above conveys some of the dimensions of global governance. To enrich its understanding, Weiss and Wilkinson (2014) have framed three different angles of the challenging nature of global governance by arguing that it (a) is ubiquitous and omnipresent; (b) is used and abused by academics and policymakers (3.1 million hits in a Google search at the end of 2012); and (c) remains notoriously slippery. While the broadness of global governance may produce a lack of conceptual rigor, it also offers a wide avenue to bring a diversity of disciplines interested in improving the current transformations of the global system through more pluralist and comprehensive approaches.

Thematic Areas of Global Governance

The explanation of global governance is a daunting task, because there are multiples structures of interaction among different actors and processes. The word “governance” appears in diverse disciplines, each one acting sometimes within its own rationale and barely connecting with other disciplines. How to make sense to the multiple forms of global governance? Bevir suggests a starting point when he argues that “governance refers to theories and issues of social coordination and the nature of all patterns of rule” (Bevir, 2011, p. 1). From the perspective of this article, global governance focuses on social coordination at the international level; in other words, global governance is based on different areas of human activity where there is a confluence of governance practices at the global level of interaction. This social coordination at the international level varies across the respective areas of human activity and hence sets different patterns of rule.

When attempting to systematically articulate and evaluate the concept of global governance, the mainstream thematic categorization for studying international relations offers a helpful starting point. Manuals and textbooks on international relations have been organized by either geographical or theoretical categories. The vast literature on international relations has produced several debates utilizing categories such as concepts, images, perspectives, understandings, and paradigms. From the theoretical perspective, images (realism, liberalism, economic structuralism, and English School) and interpretative understandings (constructivism, critical, postmodern, and gender studies) have shaped competing explanations about how the world works. However, the literature on global governance has emerged from several different areas, and hence a strict theoretical IR categorization would leave numerous contributions out of the analysis. From the thematic angle, however, the extensive literature in international relations is disaggregated in various topics such as politics (international law and organizations), security, international political economy, and more recently environment and civil society (Viotti & Kauppi, 2012). This approach allows broader inclusion of global governance contributions. Based on IR thematic traditions as well as the current literature on global governance, this section organizes the information in six main areas: politics, security, economic, environmental, civil society/human rights, and other emerging themes. The next section informs and completes the overview with a description of conceptual debates and global governance.

Global Governance and International Organizations

The United Nations has been one of the catalysts of global governance. While it has been subject to numerous criticisms due to the anachronism of the Security Council, the UN system is by far the most comprehensive global organization that has demonstrated the capacity to trigger and underpin mechanisms of cooperation on matters such as health, culture, refugees, and civil society, to name a few, for more than seven decades. Regardless of the positive or negative assessment of the performance of United Nations, the world after 1945 embarked on a journey of no return where global norms, laws, and customs matter more than in any other historical period. The contribution of global governance is indeed one of the multiple causes in the transformations of the behavior of international actors. Pierre (2013) has correctly argued that institutional changes in domestic governance over the past two decades are overwhelmingly driven by endogenous agents and changes related to international influences tend to be adaptations to globalization rather than globalization in itself.

The UN’s reform and performance have been at the center of the debates of global governance. Weiss and Thakur (2010) have identified five gaps between the nature of many current global challenges and the available inadequate solutions. The first is the knowledge gap, which contributes to developing a broad consensus on global problems such as climate change; the second is the normative gap, which can be defined as a pattern of behavior in international society; the third is the policy gap, which is the interlinked set of governing principles and goals in addition to the agreed programs of action to implement those principles and achieve those goals; the fourth is the institutional gap, including formal and informal institutions; the fifth and final is the compliance gap, which has three facets: implementation, monitoring, and enforcement. Another important dimension of global governance and international organizations is the regional level. While the global level of political aggregation is partially able to contribute to the amelioration of problems, it also requires the inclusion of regional organizations in order to galvanize the interest of regional actors in cooperating (Weiss & Thakur, 2010). All in all, the assumption is that regional organizations are more sensitive to cultural and political regional preferences and hence may contribute to implementing norms of good global governance (Rabe, 2007).

Global Security Governance

Explaining the mechanisms of provision of international security has been one of the essential driving forces in the discipline of international relations since the end of World War II and the rise of global governance following the Cold War. Concepts and debates produced within the umbrella of global security governance offer a variety of analytical schemes while revealing new avenues of research. The development of global security governance has been oriented to a large extent by the contributions, limitations, and performance of international and regional organizations as security providers, in addition to state and substate actors. As the number and scope of regional organizations have expanded since the end of the Cold War, the way regional organizations conceptualize security and practice their collective duties has become a focus of attention of scholars. The prolific literature on global governance and regional organizations has shed some light on the institutional mechanisms and autonomy (Acharya & Johnston, 2007; Tavares, 2010), the variety of security governance policies (Kirchner & Sperling, 2010; Kirchner & Dominguez, 2011), the conditions of becoming a significant actor in regional and global governance, and the capacity of member states to enable regional organizations to produce collective security goods, particularly in the cases of NATO and the EU.

While the research agenda of global security governance and regional organizations has produced significant contributions, some scholars, such as Christou and Croft (2011), rightly argue that it is still necessary to advance systematic comparisons and to strengthen the methodological foundations of security research in the analysis of security governance. Ceccorulli and Lucarelli (2014) have also argued that in order to make the concept of security governance more useful for assessing current security dynamics, four main challenges must be addressed. First, there is a need to expand the research agenda with regard to how security is understood and perceived by the actors involved in the governance system. Second, as the literature is divided into two main branches (one looking at governmental organizations and one dealing with nonstate actors), attempts should be made to impart a sense of coordination concerning efforts among different actors and layers of governance, even when focusing predominantly on one type of actor (e.g., regional state powers). Third, the literature (with notable exceptions) has predominantly focused on Europe and the transatlantic area, which is particularly limited in light of the emergence of new actors. Fourth, the literature on security governance has been too often detached from reflections on regionalism, limiting the understanding of the different dynamics and security arrangements around the world (Ceccorulli & Lucarelli, 2014).

Another dimension of global security governance is the case of nuclear security and US hegemony. Chung argues that given the increased threat of nuclear terrorism by nonstate actors, the current global mechanisms addressing nuclear security have revealed serious limitations, prompting a demand for developing new arrangements of global nuclear security governance (Chung, 2012). With regard to global security governance and US hegemony, Krahmann (2005) argues that the emergence of security governance appears to explain the changing strategies of America’s allies. Her argument suggests that major powers, including the United States, are increasingly collaborating through flexible coalitions of the willing. Crucially, these flexible coalitions do not constitute a new form of balance of power; they respond to differences in interests and capabilities within overlapping structures of regional and global security governance. The concept of security governance thus highlights and informs the complexities in the policies of the United States and these other states. It points to evidence showing that US imperialist strategy relies to a considerable degree on the cooperation of both state and nonstate actors and that its interests and reach may be more specific than frequently suggested in the current debate (Krahmann, 2005).

Due to the diversity of dimensions involving the area of security, the concept of global security governance has been used to understand more specific aspects of human activity capable of producing regional or global situations of instability such as food security and climate change. Following the 2007–2008 global food crisis, Margulis examined the Government of Canada’s efforts of promoting global food security governance behavior at meetings of the G-8 and the United Nations Committee on World Food Security (CFS). While the global influence of Canada is to some extent marginal, Margulis underscored that the CFS has emerged as a key institution for agenda-setting, norm-building, and rule-making in global food security governance (Margulis, 2015). In the area of climate change, Floyd has advanced the argument that while institutional fragmentation of global climate security governance is not automatically problematic, the phenomenon of ideational fragmentation that often goes with it is highly disadvantageous to achieving climate security for people, particularly in light of the diverse and competing preferences and agendas of states and international organizations (Floyd, 2015).

Global Economic Governance

Global economic governance has been defined as “governing, without sovereign authority, economic relationships that transcend national borders” (Madhur, 2012, p. 18). While this definition encapsulates a large range of elements comprehended within economic relations, more challenging has been the implementation of global economic policy coordination. After the economic turmoil of the 1929 crisis and the interwar period, the Bretton Woods system was put in place, but it insufficiently addressed the financial instability of the 1970s. The disillusion with the neoliberal order continued to grow through the 1990s, paving the way for experimenting with alternative economic practices, particularly in Latin America. In addition, the 2008 financial crisis and the emergence of economic powerhouses such as India and China have also contributed to shaping the debates around global economic governance, which aims to “set formal and informal rules that regulate the global economy and the collection of authority relationships that promulgate, coordinate, monitor, or enforce said rules” (Drezner, 2014, p. 124).

While the demands for producing global collective forms of action are increasing, the capacity of global economic arrangements to respond to secular stagnation, recession, or inequality has proven to be decidedly lacking. Nonetheless, the progress made in the construction of global economic governance should not be underestimated. Drezner argues that despite the failure of institutions of global governance to avert the 2008 crisis, international institutions and governance frameworks performed contrary to expectations, and on the whole “the system worked and the open global economy survived” (Drezner, 2014, p. 124, 2012). This line of argument is predicated on the reforms in the US financial system, the coordination of the G-20, and the slow transformations of the triad of economic institutions. From a more skeptical position, Quinlan (2011) contends that globalization is in retreat after 2008 and the only solution is to find commonalities while subsuming national interest for the global good by expanding global governance, which will depend on how well the so-called G-2 (United States and China) gets along in conjunction with to what degree developing nations feel they are actual stakeholders in the global economy, among other factors.

The debate on global governance calls for revisiting the architecture of global economic institutions, with particular focus on the changes wrought in three major international institutions: the transformation of the IMF, the marginalization of the World Bank, and the creation of the Financial Stability Board. Woods (2014) identifies six core principles to be strengthened for producing good economic global governance: legitimacy, representation, responsiveness, flexibility, transparency and accountability, and effectiveness. The reform of the global economic architecture has also been studied from the angle of soft law, particularly through the study of the G-20, which strives to build a new economic and financial regime better suited to the global economy. The use of soft law is based on legal instruments such as G-20 communiqués and declarations (Filipovic & Buncic, 2015). The broader inclusiveness of emerging economies in shaping the global architecture has been largely advocated for as a way to strengthen global governance (Martin, 2007). From a more comprehensive perspective, Madhur (2012) advocates the concept of hybrid architecture, in which the rise of multilateralism in the past 20 years has produced a hybrid system with two interrelated yet distinct layers: a set of formal institutions (WTO, IMF, WB, and FSB) forming its four pillars, and the G-20 as an informal, yet prominently presiding, multilateral forum setting the overall agenda and guiding the formal institutions.

Global Environmental Governance

Environment is an area inherently conducive to global governance, because it involves numerous individuals and institutions operating at different levels of spatial activity. As there is no global government and environmental degradation is not confined to borders, the concept of global environmental governance has been helpful to explain this phenomenon that typically involves a broad range of actors, including states as well as regional and international organizations. John Vogler has defined global environmental governance as follows: “At a formal level it is virtually a synonym for international environmental cooperation; for the network of international environmental organizations and conventions and the spaces between them” (Vogler, 2005, p. 835). While studies of global environmental regimes have allowed a better understanding of who, why, and how our ecosystems are affected, a more daunting analytical area is whether political actors are willing to adapt to sustainable practices. Nongovernmental actors, in concert with corporations, governments, and international organizations, have established new standard-setting bodies to guide and regulate behavior. Scholars have begun to document the rise of these new forms of private governance and hybridized public–private governance as a means of promoting environmental protection (OHCHR et al., 2013).

Another area that demands inclusive policies at different levels of government is sustainable development. Jeffrey Sachs (2012) has argued that the most effective way to reach the global goals of strengthening sustainable development is by focusing on three broad categories, economic development, environmental sustainability, and social inclusion, which will depend on a fourth condition: good governance at all levels, local, national, regional, and global. However, implementing the environmental regime is complex, because international agreements must operate at the domestic policy level, where there is often still a gap between broad international goals and local engagement for implementation (Busby, 2010).

Global Civil Society and Human Rights

The inclusion of the rights of individuals in international processes has been an inherent part of the genesis of global governance. From the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1949 as a nonbinding document to the creation of the International Criminal Court in 1998, the governance of global human rights has been evolving as normative framework and as common practice. The UN-led proliferation of national human rights institutions, whose purported aims are to implement international norms domestically, has expanded considerably since the early 1990s; such institutions have quadrupled in number and exist in almost 100 countries (Cardenas, 2003). However, despite overall advancements in advancing rights, applying them consistently remains an outstanding governance issue (Thompson, 2010). These mechanisms are far from consistent. Generally, when they are effective, they change a state’s conduct by publicizing abuses rather than by providing technical advice or applying punitive measures (Kaye, 2011). The protection of human rights in the global agenda has also advanced the debate for more proactive mechanisms to enhance the rights of people (Ruggie, 2014). However, challenges to implement full-fledged human rights protections worldwide still surpass the capacity of global governance actors to provide them.

The development of networks has been an important element in incentivizing the creation of global civil societies protecting human rights. The roots of global civil society have been the subject of debate. Two approaches have been adopted. The first suggests that global civil society has been developing rationally over a long period of time, continuous and parallel with the development of domestic civil society in democracies. The second postulates global civil society to be a relatively new phenomenon, one that has emerged in response to unprecedented challenges to democracy as a result of globalization (Coleman & Wayland, 2005).

National civil societies embark on developing links with peers around the world in multiple ways, producing a myriad of forms of interaction. Following Mor’s analysis (2013) and based on the approaches to exerting leverage on global society, four clusters of GSC are emblematic of the complexity of the phenomena of this emerging global society from below. The first is the GCS that aims to some extent to replace statist features of the international system; several networks have been developed along these lines, from global student protests to social groups working against globalization. The second frames GCS as being in opposition to the state system; social movements in Latin America and Eastern Europe working to promote an active citizenship outside and beyond the national borders are emblematic of this group. Nongovernmental organization (NGO) activism concerning the arms trade is emblematic of the significant and emancipatory role attributed to civil society in post–Cold War international politics. A distinctively liberal understanding of civil society as an increasingly global sphere marks discussions of NGOs’ efforts separately from the state and market, promoting progressive and nonviolent social relations. The final strand of GCS is mostly focused on advancing the rights of religions and ethnic movements, which in recent years have encouraged a new agenda to develop the fourth world, which includes indigenous peoples, refugees, and migrants, mainly.

The third GCS has been studied as a subsidiary organ to international society, in which, under a neoliberal perspective, civil society organizations become institutionalized and professionalized so that they can fit into the global political framework as partners rather than as opponents. First, liberal accounts underplay the mutual interdependence between the state, the market, and civil society. NGO agency is constrained as well as enabled by its historical structural grounding. Second, a more ambivalent understanding of NGOs’ progressive political value is needed. While some NGOs may play a role in counter-hegemonic struggles, overall they are more likely to contribute to hegemonic social formations. Third, liberal accounts of a global civil society inadequately capture the reproduction of hierarchies in international relations, downplaying ongoing, systemic patterns of North-South asymmetry. Fourth, the emphasis on the nonviolent nature of global civil society sidelines the violence of capitalism and the state system while serving as a means of disciplining dissent and activism (Stavrianakis, 2012).

Other Emerging Areas of Global Governance

As global governance studies have reached a prominent role in the agenda of IR research, numerous intersections have been developed between global governance and other policy domains. These intersections are the results of specific areas of policy action that have elevated their sphere of action to the global level and experienced the phenomenon of being affected by multiple actors and various levels of analysis. These are the cases of global governance in labor, migration, health, sustainable development, and water.

Global governance has been used as a frame for studying labor relations. Based on the analysis of International Labor Organization (ILO) standards and the setup of the UN Global Compact, Hassel (2008) argues that there is a plethora of voluntarist initiatives that converge over time toward a shared understanding of labor standards, which is part of the transformation of global labor governance institutions. Nonetheless, there are several problems for a full-fledged convergence of global norms on labor standards, such as the lack of governmental commitment in implementing labor standards in some countries in addition to the lack of coordination and the existence of collective action problems pertaining to various decentralized activities. In this regard, the strongest incentives for monitoring compliance, mostly advocated by the victims of noncompliance, as well as the development of a cognitive frame of unacceptable corporate behavior are essentials steps toward actualizing a “harder” institutional setting (Hassel, 2008).

Barnett (2002) has linked global governance with migration and refugees. She argues that the recent influx of internally displaced peoples (IDPs) has caused the UNHCR to rethink its governance model even further, as it does not accommodate the needs of all displaced people, especially IDPs, who are not strictly defined by borders. The UNHCR has been pushed to adapt their current state-centered global governance model toward a democratic governance model whereby a possible solution would be for the UN General Assembly to expand UNHCR’s mandate to include IDPs. However, the UNHCR remains unresponsive to this proposal (Barnett, 2002).

In the case of global health governance, Lee (2010) argues that the bulk of scholarship on international organization and health continues to be produced from outside the formal disciplinary boundaries of international relations. This literature, primarily from the perspective of public health, is concerned with improving the contemporary institutional mechanisms for addressing collective health problems. From such analyses, the broader question of what international organizations and health tell us about emerging forms of global governance can be raised. For example, what do innovations in international health cooperation tell us about the shifting boundaries between the state, the market, and civil society? What is the quality of global governance as provided by these diverse institutional actors? While a recent shift in the literature explores how international organizations matter in addition to the role of delegation and agency, more analysis is required beyond the study of the World Health Organization (Lee, 2010).

Particularly as a result of the post-2015 development framework, global sustainable development governance provides an opportunity to address these global economic, social, and environmental issues in a coordinated, coherent, and collaborative manner. In this context, the global partnership can promote a more effective, coherent, representative, and accountable global governance regime, which should ultimately translate into better national and regional governance, the realization of human rights, and sustainable development (Madhur, 2012). Within the umbrella of environment and development, global water governance remains in its initial stages in spite of increasing awareness of the scarcity of this vital resource. Pahl-Wostl, Gupta, and Petry (2008) have argued that although a global discourse about water issues has evolved over the last five decades, unlike governance of many other environmental and resource issues, a clear global governance framework has still not emerged. They have advanced their studies on global water governance by compiling 86 international river basin organizations and advocating the discussion of the vital importance of water as it relates to global governance.

Conceptual Debates on Global Governance

Thematic categorizations provide an overview of the main areas where the literature on global governance has proliferated. However, scholars have also embarked on conceptual, rather than thematic, debates or have derived interesting conceptual discussions from their thematic research. Social scientists have studied global governance from a variety of angles, producing numerous analytical innovations which improve its comprehension. While debates on global governance are perpetually evolving and the related conceptual list is extensive, this section incorporates some emblematic concepts that have paved the way for debates enriching the understanding of global governance. These include common goods, good governance, power, legitimacy, authority, global governors, governmentality, governance in areas of limited statehood, and policy-centric systems of governance. These concepts have triggered the need of adopting global governance as a framework for analysis.

The perception of sharing a common milieu has been crucial for understanding the interconnections that global governance aims to study and explain. One of the main concepts that explicitly and implicitly remain in the debates on global governance is related to the preservation and enhancement of global common goods and, more importantly, the need to develop mechanisms for collective actions. Keohane (2010) has explained the complexity of dealing with common-pool resources and collective action in the context that they are subject to the challenge of underprovision or overuse because no individual actor has an interest in unilaterally preserving them. The link between common-pool resources and collective action varies from sector to sector of political action, and hence the concept of global commons has advanced at different paces in distinct areas of international activity. While the rationale of international security is still rooted in various levels of security dilemmas, the perception of a global commons has found better conditions to flourish in areas such as global environmental policy, because the stewardship of the global commons cannot be executed without global governance. This is the case of those parts of the planet that fall outside national jurisdictions and to which all nations have access (the high seas, the atmosphere, Antarctica, and outer space), and these resource domains are guided by the principle of the common heritage of mankind (OHCHR et al., 2013).

The concern about the depletion of common goods leads to the conception of global governance not only as a heuristic device to understand multiple and complex relations but also as a mechanism to suggest policy prescriptions to manage and ameliorate global problems. Central to this assumption is the concept of good governance. While postmodern critical theories and Gramscian cultural hegemony scholars contest the intentions of global good governance as conventional mechanism of domination, a substantial share of scholars working with the concept of global governance to some degree acknowledge the need for global good governance. Weiss’ definition of good governance entails the following elements: participation and empowerment with respect to public policies, choices, and offices; rule of law secured by an independent judiciary to which the executive and legislative branches of government are subject, along with citizens as well as other actors and entities; and standards of probity and incorruptibility, transparency, accountability, and responsibility (Weiss, 2013).

The fact that good global governance advocates a more comprehensive and inclusive agenda is not dissociated from the debates surrounding power and international relations. Barnett and Duvall (2005) argue that scholarly literature surrounding global governance largely dismisses the role of power. As power remains one of the most significant concepts in most international relations theories, from its relevance in realism to its relative contestation in social constructivism, two different lines of reasoning provide some elements acknowledging the pertinence of linking global governance and power.

The first is the understanding that power has been disaggregated in the past few decades. Based on IR debates on hard (military and economic) and soft (cultural) power and from the perspective of global governance, power has been embedded in two types of global governance, hard and soft. The former refers to formal rules, norms, and institutions that have been established to regulate the behavior of states and other actors in the international system. In this context, international law, treaties, conventions, and other juridical tools are capable of providing governance. But it also means that legitimate power can be used to produce world order in the absence of a global government. In this line of thought, the balance of power plays a significant role in reducing global anarchy. Soft governance includes informal rules, norms, and institutions that can also provide governance. In this perspective, persuasion and influence are key elements in the search for world stability (Kröger, 2008). From a different angle, Weiss (2013) rightly contends that it is often forgotten that power is not confined to states and that nonstate actors play an increasingly significant role in international relations. Along the same lines, while the increasing role of civil societies and political parties have underpinned the process of democratization around the world, some other subversive and opportunistic forces, such as criminal organizations, have taken control of areas where the state is fragile or absent, resulting in the weakening of the rule of law and the negative fragmentation of state power (Naím, 2013).

The second dimension of power that affects the architecture of global governance is its polarization. From the bipolar order that prevailed in the Cold War to the current multipolar system, global collective action assumes different forms. While hegemonic transition theories have been largely studied in international relations, some scholars have linked the US decline and global governance. Chase-Dunn, Kwon, Lawrence, and Inoue (2011) have argued that while the rise of another hegemon that could replace the United States is unlikely, there are clearly challenges to be addressed. Newly emergent national economies such as India and China need to be fitted into the global structure of power, while the unilateral use of military force by the declining hegemon (the United States) has further delegitimized the institutions of global governance and has provoked resistance and challenges (Chase-Dunn et al., 2011).

Barnett and Duval broaden the definition of power from the perspective of global governance, stating that power is “the production, in and through social relations, of effects on actors that shape their capacity to control their fate” (Barnett & Duvall, 2005, p. 45). In other words, power is a means to govern people’s lives, or even international orders. The authors develop a taxonomy of power based on two analytical dimensions: the kinds of social relations through which power is exerted, and the specificity of social relations through which effects on actors’ capacities are produced. These two dimensions generate a fourfold taxonomy of power: compulsory, institutional, structural, and productive. But when it comes to the international system, it is structural power that specifically and directly affects global governance and its varying capacities. However, it is productive power, defined as the socially diffuse production of subjectivity in systems of meaning and signification, which will combat the negative view of power and will contribute to effectively analyzing global governance (Barnett & Duvall, 2005).

Associated with power, the concept of legitimacy has also been included in the debates on global governance. The main challenge, as Castells (2005) indicates, is that there is a credibility crisis as a result of the nation-state’s inability to adequately represent its citizens in the global governance era, where local and national governance has caved in and given way to global issues resolution, serving as a platform for the emergence of a global civil society. Another dimension of legitimacy in global governance is the case of compliance with international norms. The internationalization of norms leads to legitimized forms of behavior in which there is less need of coercion and calculation of interests. In other words, as Weiss has pointed out, “legitimacy is driven by the logic of appropriateness, whereby compliance can result from self-imposed obligation to do what is perceived as right” (Weiss, 2013, p. 38). Despite the silver lining logic of appropriateness, three major global governance gaps still undermine legitimacy. The first is the jurisdictional gap, in which public policymaking is by nature predominantly national in both focus as well as scope. The second is the operational gap, wherein public institutions lack the policy-relevant information and policy instruments necessary to respond to the daunting complexity of global policy issues. The third is the incentive gap, in which the compliance problem makes it difficult for international governance systems to contribute effectively to the attainment of governance goals, since that remains contingent on the willingness of individual states to implement international regulations (Brüh & Rittberger, 2003).

The discussion on power and legitimacy in global governance has also provided the background for the discussion on global authority. Finnemore (2014) has underscored the challenges that global governance is facing with regard to global authority because while power can be an attribute of an actor in isolation, “authority is always conferred by others in some form, however distant. . . this conferral is central to the legitimation of many aspects of global governance” (Finnemore, 2014, p. 221). For example, while the UN is authorized to exert power through established institutional procedures, its authority can increase or decrease based on performance and the response by others to UN actions. Based on this premise on global authority, Finnemore (2014) has pointed out the benefits of shifting the focus of global governance from actors to the relationships among actors involved in the making of global processes. From that perspective, Finnemore (2014) argues that it is hard to think of a policy area where a single “global governor” is acting alone and suggests that the nature of relationships among these potential governors can vary greatly, which in turn has diverse effects on policies and outcomes: “Global governors compete, conflict, cooperate, delegate, and divide labor in a host of ways we have not always examined systematically, but should” (Finnemore, 2014, p. 223). Her emphasis on relationships rather than on single actors contributes to the understanding that the interactions among global governors vary enormously, shaping dynamics and outcomes of global governance (Finnemore, 2014).

Alexandria Jayne Innes and Brent Steele have developed the analysis of global governance through the lens of governmentality. They argue that practices and tactics of actors (such as states, individuals, NGOs, and for-profit agencies) produce a field of power where influences strategically oppose/coincide with one another to produce governmentality. In essence, their view is that governance is too narrow and, more specifically, “governmentality. . . offers insight into a concept of global governance that does not prioritize the state. Rather, it situates the state within a network of governance, representing an actor that governs itself and others” (Jayne Innes & Steele, 2012, p. 717). Moreover, governmentality serves broadly as a regulatory factor/mechanism that promotes self-governance. In this case, sovereignty and governmentality coexist, with the latter allowing states to have sovereignty and control over disciplinary power over their people as well as the capacity to act as a “unitary cohesive agent in the global system” (Jayne Innes & Steele, 2012, p. 724). Overall, the authors proclaim that global actors will be compelled to act a certain way because the chaos can be avoided in a nonhierarchical world where each state/actor works together under the wide-spread efforts of global governance and tactics of governmentality (Jayne Innes & Steele, 2012).

One of the conceptual innovations that has put in perspective the Western roots of global governance and the implementation limits of good governance is the debate around governance in areas of limited statehood (Risse, 2011). Risse argues that the governance discourse remains centered on an ideal type of modern statehood, with full internal and external sovereignty, a legitimate monopoly on the use of force, and checks and balances that constrain political rule and authority. This approach is very state-centric and mainly western-driven and is utilized in state building and development strategies. However, from the global as well as historical perspective, “the modern nation-state is the exception rather than the rule. . . areas of limited statehood lack the capacity to implement and enforce central decisions and the monopoly on the use of force” (Risse, 2011, p. 2). In other words, in areas of limited statehood, from developing and transitioning countries to failing states, international sovereignty remains intact, while domestic sovereignty is lacking. Risse argues that governance in areas of limited statehood rests on the systematic involvement of nonstate actors and on nonhierarchical modes of political steering, yet these “modes of governance do not complement hierarchical steering by a well-functioning state but have to provide functional equivalents to develop statehood. . . in a multilevel governance which links local, national, regional and global” (Risse, 2011, p. 3).

Along the same lines of observing the limits of global governance, Ostrom and Janssen analyze the differences between “high modernism” and “polycentric” systems of governance with regard to development and natural resource management. High modernism is characterized by situations where governments attempt to suppress complexity through the design of unitary governments, which rely on experts to dictate or optimize preferred desirable goals. These systems tend to fail due to their separation from local accountability. Polycentric systems, on the other hand, are those where many actors are capable of making mutual adjustments for ordering their relationships with one another within a general system of rules where each element acts with independence of other elements (Ostrom & Janssen, 2002).

Mapping Institutional Sources

Institutions play a significant role in supporting, deepening, and widening research on global governance. For decades, education and policymaking institutions prioritized IR studies focused on Cold War tensions and Soviet studies; later, in the 1990s, globalization became not only a buzzword of politicians to justify decisions, but also a priority in the research agenda of IR departments. By the early 2000s, governance and global governance were incorporated into the IR intellectual debate and institutions started supporting its study. The relationship and correlations between transformations in the international system and how IR departments, universities, and think tanks allocate resources to study the leading topics of a generation is quite straightforward. This section identifies the leading institutional sources for studying global governance, particularly from regional and national perspectives. While a detailed survey of institutions surpasses the limits of this article, this section examines two types of institutions that have led the debate and intellectual production regarding global governance: centers or programs focusing on conducting studies on global governance, and education programs at the graduate level where global governance plays a central role.

Centers For the Study of Global Governance

The United States and Europe remain the predominant places where the debates and allocation of resources for the study of international relations are taking place. The creation of centers for the study of global governance does not deviate from this general trend. In New York, Columbia University opened the Global Governance Center at the Columbia Law School in 2003. The center addresses globalization’s legal dimensions through diverse interdisciplinary research and scholarship in addition to supporting public policy-oriented projects with other Columbia University centers and programs, including the Earth Institute, the Initiative for Policy Dialogue, and the Institute for Human Rights, as well as maintaining joint programs with international organizations such as the United Nations (Columbia University, 2015).

Also in New York, the Lublin School of Business at Pace University sponsors the Center for Global Governance, Reporting, and Regulation (Pace University, 2015). In New Jersey, the Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance (CGG) at Princeton University started operations in 2004. As part of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, the Niehaus Center is one of the few centers that combines globalization and governance under its research program (Princeton University, 2015). In North Carolina, the Global Value Chains Center at Duke University is built around the use of global value chains methodology to study the effects of globalization worldwide (Duke University, 2015).

In Europe, centers for studying global governance have also been created since the early 2000s, particularly in Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Belgium. The Hertie School of Governance together with the Freie Universität Berlin and the Social Science Centre Berlin (WZB) established the Berlin School of Transnational Studies in 2008, which includes a cluster on European Global Governance in its PhD program. This research cluster focuses on the analysis of the postnational constellation in its multiple dimensions and studies the implications of the increasingly blurred boundaries of the political space for communities and forms of belonging as it relates to the rise of global civil society, and especially for the structures of governance beyond the state (Hertie School of Governance, 2015).

In the United Kingdom, the London School of Economics (LSE) opened the Global Governance program in 2003 with a grant from the Ford Foundation. The program aimed to establish a rigorous conception and typology of global governance as well as construct an account of emergent international and transnational authority structures. While the LSE Global Governance closed as a formal research center in July 2011 as a result of a shift in research priorities, global governance has remained in the agenda of its scholars in other parts of LSE (London School of Economics, 2011). Also in London, the Global Governance Institute at University College of London undertakes cross-disciplinary study of crucial governance “deficits” in order to explore the nature of the problem and the processes, structures, and institutions involved, as well as identifying and postulating potential solutions. The Institute’s research activities coalesce around the following five thematic tracks: global governance, global security, global environmental sustainability, global justice and equity, and global economy (University College of London, 2015).

In Italy, the European University Institute in Florence launched the Global Governance Program (GGP) in 2010, which is one of the flagship programs of the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies. It aims to build a community of outstanding professors and scholars, produce high-quality research, engage with the world of practice through policy dialogue, and contribute to the fostering of present and future generations of policy- and decision-makers through its executive training. With its three dimensions (Research, Policy, and Training), the GGP aims to serve as a bridge between research and policymaking (European University Institute, 2015). In Belgium, the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies was set up in 2007, linking governance processes and multilateralism with a particular focus on the European Union’s role in global governance. With more than 60 senior and junior members, the Centre hosts a seven-year research program (2010–2017) on Global Governance and Democratic Government (Leuven University, 2015).

Global governance centers worldwide have followed the American and European trends, with the added value of focusing on their own specific regional agenda priorities. In East Asia, Waseda University Organization for Japan-US Studies (WOJUSS) was established in Japan in 2007 as a new type of research institution providing a platform for collaborative, interdisciplinary research on Japan-US relations. Later, in 2012, WOJUSS renewed research programs and teams to further promote policy-oriented research on the current state of global governance studies (Waseda University, 2015). In Korea, the Hills Governance Center at Yonsei University in Seoul became the second Hills Governance Center worldwide when it opened in 2003. The Center focuses on analysis, research, and dissemination of findings on governance-related issues and pursues specific projects such as regionally relevant case studies, the development of methodologies to measure the cost of poor governance, and identifying the best practices of successful firms in the country. Also in Korea, the Asian Institute for Policy Studies hosts the Center for Global Governance in order to offer policy recommendations which improve international relations and politics by making them more effective. With an office in Washington, DC, the center itself tries to bring forth traditional ways of thinking that focus on state actors and national security as well as recommending policies that account for nontraditional security factors such as human security (Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2015).

In South Asia, Jindal University created the Centre for Global Governance and Policy (CGGP) in the late 2000s in Delhi, India. The distinctive feature of the CGGP is that it emphasizes a Global South perspective and probes the possibility for more a balanced and even-handed structure for global governance. It also focuses on an agenda that goes beyond India’s regional priorities (Pakistan, China, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, etc.) or relations with Europe and the United States, incorporating multidisciplinary and non-state-driven debates taking place in Latin America, Africa, and the rest of Asia. Emblematic of this approach is the CGGP report entitled Rethinking International Institutions: A Global South Agenda released in 2011(Jindal University, 2015). In Africa, the Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation (GovInn) is the first research institution in Africa dedicated entirely to governance innovation. With a strong orientation on African topics in the context of global governance, GovInn prioritizes producing cutting-edge research capable of generating new thinking about governance and development as well as attracting innovators from all over the world. GovInn focuses on new economic governance, governance of the commons, transboundary governance, and security governance (University of Pretoria, 2015).

Education Programs on Global Governance

Education programs underpin developing a better understanding of global governance. At the doctoral level, three programs on Global Governance are salient. University of Massachusetts in Boston offers a PhD program in Global Governance and Human Security which aims to develop skills in topics such as emerging nonstate actors, norms, conflict resolution, and geopolitical competence (University of Massachusetts Boston, 2015). In Canada, a PhD in Global Governance, offered jointly by Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo, examines power and authority in the global arena and aims to examine and re-evaluate concepts, tools, and assumptions that have served scholars in the past and assesses new approaches for addressing contemporary and future challenges in six areas: global political economy, global environment, conflict and security, global justice and human rights, multilateral institutions and diplomacy, and global social governance (Balsillie School of International Studies, 2015). In Germany, the University of Bremen and Jacobs University Bremen founded the Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences (BIGSSS), which offers a PhD program focused on three thematic fields, one of which is Global Governance and Regional Integration (Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences, 2015).

More focused on training and specialization than on research, a variety of Masters programs are offered in several parts of the world. Florida International University offers an MA program in Global Governance featuring two tracks: globalization and security, and corporate citizenship (Florida International University, 2015). In Canada, the University of Waterloo opened an MA in Global Governance that goes beyond the rigidities and formalities of established academic boundaries by drawing on a variety of disciplines (Balsillie School of International Studies, 2015). In Europe, among other institutions, Sussex University offers an MA in Global Governance and the University of Kent offers an MA in European and Global Governance in the United Kingdom. In Italy, the University of Siena opened an MA in Global Governance Studies and Cultural Diplomacy. One example in South Asia is Jindal University, which has offered an MA in Global Governance since 2012, in which students are encouraged to raise awareness and analytical depth in India about academically neglected regions such as Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean (Jindal University, 2015).

Future Directions of Global Governance

This article has provided an extensive review of the literature on global governance. However, the significant scholarly development of the concept in the last decades still demands further analytical tools to explain the permanent transformations of international relations and the problems derived from the lack of global governance. In this regard, the current literature on global governance offers a platform where theories and concepts are adaptable and versatile, providing the research agenda of global governance with conditions conducive to expand its explanation about an increasingly more complex reality.

Some future areas of research around the global governance agenda include the exploration of areas conducive to reducing anarchy in the international system through several policy instruments. Cooperation and multilateral approaches are pillars for the creation of more effective global public policies considering the limited capacity of states to resolve simultaneously every local or international problem. As a consequence of globalization, the nature of problems is increasingly defined by multiple domestic and international factors. Therefore, governments have to resort to creating schemes of coordination with other actors to confront contemporary challenges, and more research is required to decipher and better understand how to create and protect collective global goods. International organizations, private actors, civil society, and even individuals are necessary to promoting global governance. Since there is not a central global government to cope with international conflicts and problems, norms and institutions are needed to provide legitimacy for—and protect the stability of—the international system.

Global governance is also an important framework of analysis that incentivizes ontological and epistemological approaches to study how the international system works. Not only governmental officials but also scholars and nonstate actors are deeply concerned with understanding the mechanisms to promote global governance, which include legitimate authority to solve international conflict and enhance mutual cooperation. The recent emergence of academic institutions and programs to address such topics is integral to this process. It is probable that in the near future more think tanks and universities will facilitate further research on global governance.

A current and future challenge pending in the global governance agenda is to develop further interconnections between different areas of human activity which also percolate at the global level. Economic interactions need a framework of rules, norms, and institutions to avoid financial crisis, facilitate cooperation, and promote global development. Global economic disparities will not be reduced if states, transnational companies, international organizations, and civil society do not establish cooperative schemes. For a more secure world, the international community must seek the creation of instruments to promote global security governance. These kinds of institutions will be necessary to diminish international terrorism, wars, organized crime, and other global threats. Global governance is also a key element for reducing ecological degradation, climate change, and other environmental challenges the world is facing today. States and international organization are not able to solve those problems without the participation of civil society and individuals. For the conservation of natural resources and the creation of new energy sources, global public policy will be required as well. Health and food issues are also a primary concern of global governance studies. As this article has illustrated, the future of international relations will benefit from developing the concept of global governance, debating better practices, and implementing effective global policies.


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