The study of international organizations (IOs) has been described as lacking theoretical depth. However, the field actually has a more solid theoretical foundation than some of its critics allege. Moreover, the variety of approaches has entailed multifaceted knowledge of the internal workings as well as the global effects of IOs. Three theoretical traditions have emerged, dealing with institutions, organization, and governance. Institutional analysis has a central position in political science. In the study of domestic institutions, three major schools—rational choice institutionalism, historical institutionalism, and sociological institutionalism—have emerged. Organization theory represents a change of focus from the ideational structures studied by institutionalists to more material and human structures. Whereas both institutional and organizational approaches were originally formulated for domestic structures, institutionalists have been more receptive to exploring domestic-international analogies and contrasts. Even if both institutional and organization theories pay attention to process— institutionalizing rules and practices as well as organizing collective entities are long-term processes— IO studies inspired by these approaches tend to focus on relatively stable structures, asking questions concerning the establishment, persistence or change, and impact of international institutions and organizations. A third, more recent perspective focuses on continuous processes of governance, involving international organizations as well as other types of actors.
Joshua W. Busby
While some attempts to deal with transborder environmental issues have a longer history, the formal international organizations that have buildings and staff were mostly created in the shadow of World War II. As global environmental governance has evolved, the lexicon in academia has changed from talking about transnationalism and interdependence to writing about regimes and, more recently, institutional design and effectiveness. The actors worthy of study have also changed. The discipline has moved, from writing about states and formal international organizations, to discussing a variety of non-state actors including nongovernmental organizations, businesses, and public-private partnerships. The field has come full circle to talk about internal bureaucratic processes and the politics of particular organizations. This article aims to provide a thematic and somewhat chronological overview of the broader field of international organizational and environmental governance. This updated survey identifies some new topics that not have been captured by earlier efforts and reviews the following central themes: 1. International Institutions And Regime Theory 2. Ratification and Compliance 3. Regime Effectiveness and Design 4. Bureaucratic Politics and Organizational Pathologies 5. The Rise And Role Of Non-State Actors 6. From Government To Governance: Private And Hybrid Models
Kelley Lee and Julia Smith
Patterns of health and disease have been relevant to international studies for as long as human populations have migrated across large territorial spaces. After World War II, international health cooperation was accepted as a key function of the newly established United Nations system, with the creation of the World Health Organization (WHO) as the UN specialized agency for health alongside other UN bodies. However, social science scholarship paid little attention to the perceived technical field of health, and thus international health organizations, until the 1970s. The limited scholarship produced during the postwar period was largely by those engaged with international health organizations and was primarily descriptive of technical and legal issues. It was not until debates emerged about the role and effectiveness of WHO, beginning in the 1980s, that scholars began considering the politics of international health cooperation. The adoption of the Declaration of Alma Ata, List of Essential Drugs, and International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes spurred debates about the “politicization” of WHO’s technical mandate. Public health practitioners and social historians contributed reflections on how structural inequalities shape health outcomes, and international organization scholarship introduced critical theoretical approaches to the study of health institutions. Scholars began to locate patterns of health and disease within the broader international political economy. The subsequent proliferation of new institutional arrangements for collective action on health issues, involving both state and non-state actors, generated studies of the distribution of power and responsibilities in an increasingly complex institutional landscape. This led to the concept of global health governance (GHG), with health becoming located within globalization processes, encouraging scholarly links across international relations, social policy, law, and anthropology. A wider range of international organizations, with health-related impacts, were incorporated into GHG scholarship. Concurrently, new theoretical approaches to understanding collective action for global health emerge, notably realist notions of global health security and critical approaches to the construction of GHG. The study of international organization and health since the mid-2000s has focused intense attention on the reform or creation of new institutional arrangements amid major global health crises, acute health inequities, and shared risks. This increasingly rich literature has been informed by diverse normative perspectives.
Wesley W. Widmaier
Global economic governance refers to efforts to organize, structure, and regulate economic interactions. In substantive terms, economic governance deals with a host of policy challenges, including the definition of basic property rights, efforts at monetary and fiscal cooperation, ando concerns for the “macroprudential regulation” of financial markets. The Global Financial Crisis has demonstrated not only the importance of macroeconomic and regulatory cooperation, but also the role of crises in redefining the purposes of economic governance itself. Debates in the fields of international relations (IR) and international political economy (IPE) over global economic governance have revolved around strategic interactions, social psychological forces, and the post-crisis emergence of new agents and international organizations. In applied IPE settings, these debates more explicitly pertain to the systemic importance of hegemonic power, multilateral interactions, or intersubjective interpretations. These views intersect with neorealist, neoliberal, and constructivist assumptions regarding systemic interactions. Over the 1990s, IR and IPE scholars would increasingly seek to move beyond both the structural materialism associated with hegemonic stability theory and the structural idealism associated with “first-generation” Wendtian constructivism. Future research should focus on broader questions of whether the Global Financial Crisis will spark renewed theoretical creativity and contribute to an enhanced policy relevance, or whether IR and IPE will continue to work to mask the role of power in limiting such possibilities.
Ronald Deibert and Rafal Rohozinski
The internet is commonly defined as “a worldwide network of computer networks that use the TCP/IP network protocols to facilitate data transmission and exchange.” A related term is “cyberspace,” which has a broader connotation suggestive of the virtual worlds that emerge from the internet, including chat rooms, three-dimension game environments, and online forums. A primary feature of internet governance is self-regulation. From content to protocols to addressing schemes, numerous networked forms of self-regulation have helped govern the internet. One of the issues of significance to internet governance has to do with the governance processes associated with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the politics associated with the World Summit of the Information Society (WSIS). Other questions arising from internet governance include those relating to cybercrime, internet security, surveillance and privacy, and the idea of network neutrality. One problem that needs to be addressed with regard to internet governance is that there is no single regime for internet governance inasmuch as there are several multiple and overlapping governance domains—what W. H. Dutton calls the “mosaic” of internet governance. Future research should focus on whether to consolidate around a single regime with a single global governing body, as well as how to control the “arms race” on the internet.
James P. Muldoon Jr. and JoAnn Fagot Aviel
Multilateral diplomacy is the management of international relations by negotiations among three or more states through diplomatic or governmental representatives, but it can also be engaged in by representatives of non-state actors. Multilateral negotiation is characterized by multi-parties, multi-issues, multi-roles, and multi-values. The level of complexity is far greater than in bilateral diplomacy as is the level of skill needed to manage that complexity. It can be based on multilateralism, or have multilateralism as a goal, but it can also be pursued by those who do not. Multilateralism can be defined as global governance of the many, and a major principle is the opposition to bilateral discriminatory arrangements. Classic diplomatic studies focused on bilateral diplomacy. However, the growth of international organizations in the 20th century increased interest in multilateral diplomacy, which has developed since its origins in 1648. Increasing attention has been paid to the role of non-state actors and new forms of diplomacy affected by globalization and the digitization of information. In the 21st century, multilateral diplomacy faces unique challenges and calls for reform of international organizations and global governance.
April R. Biccum
The concept of “Global Citizenship” is enjoying increased currency in the public and academic domains. Conventionally associated with cosmopolitan political theory, it has moved into the public domain, marshaled by elite actors, international institutions, policy makers, nongovernmental organizations, and ordinary people. At the same time, scholarship on Global Citizenship has increased in volume in several domains (International Law, Political Theory, Citizenship Studies, Education, and Global Business), with the most substantial growth areas in Education and Political Science, specifically in International Relations and Political Theory. The public use of the concept is significant in light of what many scholars regard as a breakdown and reconfiguration of national citizenship in both theory and practice. The rise in its use is indicative of a more general change in the discourse on citizenship. It has become commonplace to offer globalization as a cause for these changes, citing increases in regular and irregular migration, economic and political dispossession owing to insertion in the global economy, the ceding of sovereignty to global governance, the pressure on policy caused by financial flows, and cross-border information-sharing and political mobilization made possible by information communications technologies (ICTs), insecurities caused by environmental degradation, political fragmentation, and inequality as key drivers of change. Global Citizenship is thus one among a string of adjectives attempting to characterize and conceptualize a transformative connection between globalization, political subjectivity, and affiliation. It is endorsed by elite global actors and the subject of an educational reform movement. Some scholarship observes empirical evidence of Global Citizenship, understood as active, socially and globally responsible political participation which contributes to global democracy, within global institutions, elites, and the marginalized themselves. Arguments for or against a cosmopolitan sensibility in political theory have been superseded by both the technological capability to make global personal legal recognition a possibility, and by the widespread endorsement of Global Citizenship among the Global Education Policy regime. In educational scholarship Global Citizenship is regarded as a form of contemporary political being that needs to be socially engineered to facilitate the spread of global democracy or the emergence of new political arrangements. Its increasing currency among a diverse range of actors has prompted a variety of attempts either to codify or to study the variety of usages in situ. As such the use of Global Citizenship speaks to a central methodological problem in the social sciences: how to fix key conceptual variables when the same concepts are a key aspect of the behavior of the actors being studied? As a concept, Global Citizenship is also intimately associated with other concepts and theoretical traditions, and is among the variety of terms used in recent years to try to reconceptualize changes it the international system. Theoretically it has complex connections to cosmopolitanism, liberalism, and republicanism; empirically it is the object of descriptive and normative scholarship. In the latter domain, two central cleavages repeat: the first is between those who see Global Citizenship as the redress for global injustices and the extension of global democracy, and those who see it as irredeemably capitalist and imperial; the second is between those who see evidence for Global Citizenship in the actions and behavior of a wide range of actors, and those who seek to socially engineer Global Citizenship through educational reform.