Michael Fullilove - Executive Director, Lowy Institute for
The world's greatest global governance
challenge is to establish shared responsibility for the most intractable
problems of our post-unipolar world.
Much of the world chafed against the United
States' enormous relative power in the first decade after the end of the
Cold War. Many enjoyed its grievous overreach in the following decade.
But now, more capitals need to assume the
role of "responsible stakeholders" that was urged on Beijing by
Robert Zoellick in 2005.
China serves as the most pressing example of
a country that must embrace its growing power in the international
arena. Beijing has been more active in its dealings with the
international community in many positive ways. Yet, it has so far
demurred from assuming the responsibilities incumbent on a global power,
and nurturing the international system it hopes to help to lead.
In the UN Security Council chamber and other
forums, China is increasingly willing to take the lead and behave more
like a great power.
On the other hand, it remains disengaged
from issues that do not trespass directly on its core interests. It is
largely preoccupied with protecting its interests and those of its
allies rather than projecting its influence, or doing much to strengthen
the international system.
The Iran nuclear issue is only one example.
Beijing's interests on Iran are not, of course, identical to Western
interests. Yet as a key player in the international political and
economic system, it is giving insufficient weight to the great risk
posed by an Iranian nuclear bomb.
China has changed the way it does business,
but it continues to define its national interests narrowly and pursue
them with an uncompromising resolve. China wants respect, but not
responsibility. It is reluctant to bind its own freedom of movement and
subsume it within international institutions in the way the United
States did after the Second World War, even though Washington's relative
power was far greater than Beijing's is now.
As China's wealth and power grow, so will
its interests expand. A middle-power foreign policy is inadequate for a
great power. If China is to help run the international system, then it
has a stake in strengthening it.
I suggest respectfully that China and other
rising powers need to strike a new balance between their traditional
economic and security concerns and the broader imperatives they must now
satisfy, including stable great-power relations, non-proliferation, and
developing their international prestige. The old principle applies: with
great power comes great responsibility.
On the other hand, the West needs to be
careful what it wishes for. Western countries want rising powers to be
more responsible and active, but they don't necessarily like it when
such powers are more assertive. U.S. officials often say that China
should "step up," for instance. But China's vision of "stepping up" will
not be the same as the United States'.
How would the West feel about rising powers
wading into the Middle East peace process, for example, or participating
in "coalitions of the willing" that intervened in other countries?
In other words, the responsibilities - and
the prerogatives - of stakeholders are open to interpretation.
Richard N. Haass - President,
Council on Foreign Relations
There are a number of issues where the gap
between existing global challenges and the arrangements meant to manage
them remains considerable to say the least.
On this score, 2012 was revealing: Syria
suggested that international support for the principle of R2P was mostly
rhetorical, while Iran's steady progress toward a viable nuclear weapons
program underscored the many inadequacies of the nuclear
These issues will continue to pose major
challenges in the new year.
Here, though, are three additional tests for
The Doha Round is all but dead.
This is troubling news both economically
(trade being a major engine of growth and job creation) and
strategically (trade being a major deterrent to reckless
political-military behavior that would threaten the benefits that
accrue from economic ties).
Plus, certain issues like government
subsidies should be tackled at the global as opposed to regional or
What is needed then are consultations
among select developed and developing states alike that could set
the stage for global negotiations regarding services, agriculture,
and subsidies, in addition to the more traditional trade agenda.
This is, in some ways, the newest
Given the speed of technological change,
it comes as little surprise that there is little in the way of
governance. Indeed, this realm is reminiscent of the early years of
the nuclear era before arms control policies introduced some rules
of the road and limits.
But there is also the danger that some
forms of regulation could be worse than none.
So the international challenge will be
how best to maintain a free flow of information while limiting
various forms of "cyber-aggression" without giving national
governments license to curb the flow of information for political
It is becoming increasingly clear that
efforts at mitigation are not just falling short but that the gap
between what is needed and what is likely to happen is widening.
Prospects for a grand bargain here look
as remote as they do in the trade and cyber realms.
This argues for developing a
multi-pronged approach to deal with the problem (i.e., slowing
deforestation, increasing reliance on nuclear power, sharing
technology to promote cleaner coal, introducing a carbon tax, etc.),
as well as increased international efforts to help vulnerable
countries deal with the effects of climate change - that is,
Jiemian Yang - President,
Shanghai Institutes for International Studies
Strengthening existing international
institutions is essential to implementing true global governance.
More often than not, institutions like the
UN, WTO, IMF and G-20 appear too slow and ineffectual to tackle the
world's most pressing problems. It is time that their guiding principles
were earnestly implemented and existing frameworks properly exploited.
Rather than issue more declarations, they
must aim to produce more concrete results, especially in the areas of
promoting a global economic recovery and helping to resolve the debt
crises in the eurozone. In the coming years, the G-20 will have to show
the world that it is capable of evolving into a more effective and
Many are also watching to see if the UN can
assume role in dealing with the flash-point issues around the world.
A related challenge is that the
international community lacks the necessary consensus to work out
concepts, norms, and approaches in addressing myriad issues ranging from
nuclear security to the growing influence of social media.
For one thing, major powers are often
reluctant to engage less prominent stakeholders, making it difficult to
forge common visions and joint efforts. In addition, the much-advocated
"networked governance" among state actors and various non-state actors
is making slow progress because most state bureaucracies, out of self
consideration and systemic inertia, still prefer formal institutions
centered on themselves.
As a consequence, new mindsets and
functioning mechanisms that are keys to global governance are hard to
The third challenge involves harnessing
regional efforts into common action on the global level. Discouraged by
the stalemate of global governance building, many countries and regions
are now turning to regional and sub-regional integration, which explains
why we are seeing more regional and sub-regional free-trade agreements.
If such a trend cannot be reversed in a
timely fashion, then there will be no global governance in its real
Despite the unprecedented challenges facing
the global community in the second decade of the twenty-first century,
the world should not be dispirited.
The upcoming year promises fresh political
and economic momentum as new leaders settle in and people around the
world continue to seek more peace, development, and cooperation.
Yurgens - Chairman, Institute of Contemporary Development
The international community must confront a
complex set of security, ecological, and sociological challenges in the
We are at a real crossroads, and must choose
between sustainability and further decline with drastic consequences.
The continued deterioration in the
Middle East challenges the principles of global governance and their
efficacy in the near future.
The region is wrestling with a number of
issues, including the autonomous actions of emerging powers, the
rise of non-state actors, and the proliferation of large-scale civil
The tactical interests of key players
preclude common ground for decisions that are strategically vital
for all sides and risk opening a Pandora's Box of nuclear
proliferation problems with dramatic implications for global
The absence of adequate capabilities for
resolving these problems threatens to unleash a "domino effect."
Also, even with the progress being made in other parts of the world,
the inability of the international community to cope with this
region's challenges threaten to undermine global governance.
The course of events is precipitating.
Next year will most likely be a turning point in the Syrian crisis.
The further strain around a likelihood
of conflict with Iran along with growing internal challenges in
other regional countries will likely also heat up the international
Scientists have identified
nine planetary boundaries that are essential for human life and
should not be crossed. They estimate that we have already pushed
past three, including
climate change, nitrogen loadings, and the
rate of biodiversity loss.
The other six - ocean acidification,
stratospheric ozone, aerosol loadings, freshwater use, land use
changes, and chemical pollution - also appear to be approaching
their tipping points.
High measures of income inequality
around the world are strongly correlated with dangerous social
trends in all societies.
In turn, greater equality of income
correlates with better social indicators across the range. These
observations are based on analysis of U.S. and global developments
[Note: From research by
British academics R. Wilkinson and K. Pickett in
The Spirit Level: Why More Equal
Societies Almost Always Do Better, London, Allen Lane, 2009].
The data has covered physical and mental
health, educational performance, child well-being, trust and community
life and social mobility, teenage births, obesity, drug abuse, violence
Even the privileged in countries with income
inequality suffer from higher societal problems than their peers in more
These risks must be dealt with head on in
the new year. They will continue to challenge global governance and its
ability to provide stability in the world, but the nature of these risks
also shows the limitations of national governments.
Some of these issues should be discussed in
the course of the preparation of the next summit of G-20 in
Saint-Petersburg in September 2013.