Global Governance

The quest for domination of the world goes back at least to Alexander the Great in the 4 th century BCE. Some concept of governance on a global scale, however, is an important issue today and likely to be a more important issue in the future not because of someone’s quest for world domination, but primarily because of economic globalization (an important issue in its own right). There are many issues that affect the global commons that have long since been ripe for management on a global scale (including issues such as air pollution, harvesting of the ocean’s bounty, land mines, and the like). Economic globalization – which is addressed below and seems quite likely to persist well into the future – is adding urgency to the concept of and requirement for some governance mechanism that acts at the global level. Global governance is evident today in the United Nations and a wide variety of international treaties and declarations, but governance challenges at the global level are almost certain to persist well into the future. An understanding of some of these global issues and possibilities for global governance is important and useful in thinking about the longer-range future.

Global Public Goods: International Cooperation in the 21st Century — 1999

Inge Kaul, Isabelle Grunberg, Marc C. Stern (eds.)

This is the first book that wrestled with the concept of and issues surrounding global public goods. Public goods (at their ‘purest’ level) are things that don’t get used up when they are enjoyed and can’t be hoarded. They are unlikely to be generated by the market because there is no incentive to produce them. At the national level, that usually means the government has to supply those goods. At the global level, there is no such entity, yet global public goods – clean air, fresh water, ocean fisheries, etc. – are increasingly important to the human future. Similarly, global public ‘bads’ – land mines, CFCs, carbon dioxide, etc. – are also in need of attention. This book looks at jurisdictional, participation, and incentive problems for a variety of global public goods. There have been additional volumes relating to global public goods since this one appeared, but this is a good introduction to the issues and it provides some plausible next steps.

We welcome your input. Send suggestions for links and other ideas to