This paper sums up the debate that took place during the
two round tables organized by UNESCO within the first World Social Forum
in Porto Alegre (25/30 January 2001). It starts with a discussion of
national processes, by examining democracy and then governance at the
national level. It first states a case for a "joint" governance based on a
combination of stakeholder theory, which is derived from corporate
governance, and of UNESCO's priorities in the field of governance. As an
example, the paper investigates how governance can deviate from democracy
in the East Asian model. Subsequently, the global dimension of the debate
on democracy and governance is examined, first by identification of the
characteristics and agents of democracy in the global setting, and then by
allusion to the difficulties of transposing governance to the global
1 Democracy at
the national level: prerequisites to a global democracy
society as necessary to make democracy work
consciousness and social capital
2 Governance at
the national level
2.1 From good
governance to "joint governance"
International development institutions and joint governance
governance" bringing about economic AND social
3 Democracy at
the global level
effects of globalization on democracy: interdependence between the NGOs,
the state and the international institutions
3.2 The logic
of universalisation: on the globalization of democracy
globalized: from technocratic to joint global governance
the management of globalization
governance through GLOBAL civil society?
Policy Options and Local-Global Linkages
From 25 to 30 January 2001, the first World Social Forum
was held in the city of Porto Alegre (Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil), while
the World Economic Forum was taking place in Davos (Switzerland). The two
Fora, respectively, dealt with the following themes:
World Social Forum
World Economic Forum
Production of wealth and social reproduction;
Addressing the backlash against globalization;
Civil society and the public arena;
Business and non-governmental organizations;
Access to wealth and sustainability;
Can technology alleviate poverty?
Political power and ethics in the new society;
The company and the public;
How can civil society have access to the decision-making
How can globalization deliver the goods?
Inequalities and the new information technologies;
Seizing the global digital opportunity;
Social responsibility of the private sector and taxing financial
The shape of the 21st century corporation;
Is another world possible?
The evolution and the benefits of economic globalization.
Ironically, while James Wolfensohn, the World Bank
president, proclaimed at Davos that "we should not come up with a simple
reaction that globalization is the problem. The problem is democracy. The
problem is equality. The problem is equity"(1); these issues did
not coincide at all with the general themes of the Davos workshops, and as
a result were not debated seriously within the World Economic Forum. In
fact, it was precisely globalization, and how to turn it into a lucrative
project, that constituted the centre of the discussion at Davos. James
Wolfensohn is accurate when he states that democracy is the problem, but,
if so, why was he not in Porto Alegre where the debates around democracy
and equality were held?
The problem with the current pattern of globalization is
not only the digital divide, it is mostly democracy for development, and
the plenary sessions as well as the several workshops during the World
Social Forum tackled precisely this inevitable socio-political dimension
of development. UNESCO contributed to the analysis by organizing a seminar
within the Porto Alegre forum on democracy and global governance (box
below). In this discussion paper, the contributions of each speaker are
analysed within a general discussion on the interplay between democracy
and global governance.(2)
UNESCO in the First World Social Forum in Porto Alegre
Participants in the UNESCO World Social Forum round
tables were Carlos Arturi (Brazil), Guillermo Aureano (Argentina), Dorsala
Bazahica (Burundi), Sarah Ben Nefissa (Tunisia), Maria da Graça Bulhões
(Brazil), Renato de Oliveira (Brazil), Paul Nkwi (Cameroon), Anik Osmont
(France), Jaime Preciado Coronado (Mexico), Jean-Pierre Razafy
Andriamihaingo (Madagascar), Bunker Roy (India), and David Westendorff
(USA). UNESCO was present in Porto Alegre because one of the most
important challenges for the next century will be to achieve local,
national and world democratic governance based on principles that are
freely agreed to by the social actors involved (both state and non-state
players). This "democratic governance", whose institutional and political
characteristics are still to be defined, is the best way to strengthen
national capacities in order to realize social, educational, cultural and
scientific development strategies in the face of the opposing consequences
of globalization. This is both an ethical and a practical issue, whose
outcome is crucial for a fair and ecologically balanced social
development. UNESCO was called to participate in this debate, and the
future programmes of the Organization will give this issue its due
While the focus of this paper is the global dimension of
democracy and governance, it is considered that understanding democracy
and governance at the global level requires that they first be analysed at
the national level. On the one hand, taking into consideration the limits
and shortcomings of democracy in national settings helps analyse the
democratic deficit at the global level. On the other hand, the reform of
national democracy and governance in developing countries will have little
impact if it is not preceded by a reform of global governance. There is a
clear interdependence between the local political level of regulation and
the global governance mechanisms being thought up and established.
This paper starts with a discussion of national
processes, by examining democracy and then governance at the national
level. It first states a case for a "joint" governance based on a
combination of stakeholder theory, which is derived from corporate
governance, and of the UNESCO's priorities in the field of governance. As
an example, the paper investigates how governance can deviate from
democracy in the East Asian model. Then the global dimension of the debate
on democracy and governance is examined, first by identification of the
characteristics and agents of democracy in the global setting, and then by
allusion to the difficulties of transposing governance to the global
This paper aims at reaching an analytical and informed
understanding of the benefits of democracy in a global world. To reach
this dispassionate and rigorous stage of analysis, Western democratic
biases, which cause us to believe democracy is always best, have to be put
aside. In order to attain this objectivity, part of the task is to examine
non-democratic forms of government and their performance. In particular,
the record of another form of "governance", that which was set up by the
East Asian developmental states of the 1980s, will be analysed.
In these states, in the name of a truncated notion of
"development" - which is not equivalent to Sen's freedom but rather to
economic growth with equity - corruption and authoritarian rule provided
the pillars of a capital accumulation that excluded non-capitalist social
actors from the decision-making process, and yet delivered BOTH economic
and human development (in the form of improvements in health and
education). Indeed, while the analytical dimension of the concept of
governance goes beyond democracy because it also implies that efficiency
should serve democracy and development at the same time, the East Asian
developmental states had the need to obtain efficient results (mainly from
the macroeconomic perspective) as their main goal, and ignored the
democratic components of the concept. It will be useful to review their
experience, and contrast it with our participatory notion of a "joint
In this connection, a question must be raised as to what
extent - by promoting democracy at the global scale - international
institutions are not prolonging the homogenizing technical discourse of a
"good governance", in order to "manage" development more easily, as
Escobar (1995) suggests in his path-breaking Encountering
Development. Are there alternative non-democratic models of
governance, and how do they compare to low quality democracies? How is it
possible to strike a balance between the importance of achieving sound
development results and the universal value of democracy?
Being aware of the frailties of democracy can help us
improve its functioning. Democracy and development are compatible, and
democratic development is the best kind of development. Democratic
development requires that the concept of governance be rethought. What are
the non-prescriptive dimensions of global governance? Why has it become a
global political issue that has mobilized thousands of associations,
unions, NGOs, the private sector and UN agencies?
Three concepts require clarification: democracy, civil
society, and governance. Democracy can be defined as a set of
institutional arrangements characterized by free elections with universal
adult suffrage, principles of liberty (freedom of information and
expression), the right to oppose government, the right of associational
autonomy, a system with legal rules, and a notion of justice and fairness
LSE lecture, 2000). An alternative definition is Touraine's; he emphasizes
three principles of democracy: the limitation of state power
(constitutionalism), the representations of conflicting interests
(pluralism) and the participation of citizens in the political community
(citizenship) (Touraine, 1997).
Civil society is the public space between the
state, the market and the realm of family relations; it is an
associational realm within society, based on voluntary and non-profit
The concept of governance needs to be divided into
governance and global governance. A very introductory definition, which is
developed throughout section 2, will do for now.
· A minimalist definition of
governance can be the capacity of states, social actors, and
economic operators to guarantee the systemic management between democracy,
market and equity (UNDP, 1996). Different approaches to governance will be
examined below in more depth: that of the new institutional economics,
corporate governance, and good governance.
· Global governance
refers to de jure mechanisms intended for the organization of
international relations, as they concern the executive systems in charge
of stating and applying international rules as well as public and private
actors (Alliance for a responsible, plural and united world, 2000).
Part I: National processes
1 Democracy at the national level: prerequisites
to a global democracy
1. 1 Civil society as necessary to make
The above definitions can be contextualised
by looking at them in national and global contexts. (4) Before discussing
the implications of globalization for democracy, it is important to
understand what promotes democracy at the national level. In turn, as
Putnam would say, "making democracy work" at the national level is partly
determined by what happens at the grassroots (see box below).
Two successful grassroots
initiatives related by Bunker Roy and Anil Gupta
Bunker Roy's Barefoot College in
Tilonia (India) is the "living example of local people using their
own skills to meet their own needs and manage their own resources". At the College, Barefoot health workers,
engineers, accountants and teachers have replaced the urban-based
paper qualified professionals. Indeed, experience taught the
founders of the College that staff who came from local villages
often deferred to urban-educated staff and did not have confidence
to express opinions. Also, by excluding urban professionals, they
found the solution to the problem of identification of the rural
poor, as many of the staff are themselves the rural poor of their
Anil Gupta describes a similar
grassroots initiative called the Honey Bee network. Like Roy, Gupta
celebrates local initiatives; in addition, Gupta calls for the
preservation of ethical capital, as opposed to social capital: Gupta
justifies this differentiation on the grounds that "trust and good
will also exist among members of the mafia". However, if one goes by
Hirschman's definition, social capital itself is inherently one of
"moral resources", whose supply increases through use, rather than
the opposite, which becomes depleted if not used (quoted in Putnam,
1993). The more two people display trust towards one another, the
greater their mutual confidence. It is this ethos that sustains
economic dynamism and government performance, according to Putnam,
so that the distinction between ethical and social capital might not
be as clear as Gupta suggests.
1.2 Political consciousness and
The existence of a political consciousness and social
capital is also a pre-requisite of democracy, as emphasized by Sarah Ben
Nefissa. She looks at the last presidential and legislative
elections in Egypt, which took place in 2000, and analyses voting
patterns. She finds that the most important outcome of these elections,
which were conducted for the first time under the control of the Supreme
Constitutional Court, is that independent candidates seemed to gather most
of the votes. She wonders whether this implies the end of politics in
Egypt, in that the electorate does not select a party for its programmatic
politics, but rather elects a personality, that provides it with the most
services. Ben Nefissa mentions another aspect of Egyptian political life,
which is that the individual elector still does not exist. Ben Nefissa
considers the role of youth to be essential in its emergence. She makes it
clear that a requirement of democratisation is that the individual elector
become self-conscious and exercises his/her stakeholding power over
The Egyptian example also implies that the functioning of
democracy requires a strong civil society, but a civil society that is
politicised, and interacts with the state through concrete participation
in decision-making processes. It is also important to analyse the
political sub-content of civil society organizations. "It is the
articulation of goals, power of ideas and efficacy of organizations that
will determine [their] political purposes" (Putzel, 1997).
The existence of civil society groups "from below" is not
sufficient for democracy to work. In fact, civil society can be
"undemocratic" if it is isolated. Different sectors of civil society have
different power resources at their disposal, and very often, notions of
democratic consensus based upon market equilibria tend to marginalize this
important factor. Indeed, as mentioned by White (1996), "analysts in the
US tradition of pluralist political analysis tend to see civil society as
a field of interest groups, often viewing the political process as a
market and political outcome representing equilibria resulting from the
interplay of social actors in civil society".
Those with greater access to socio-economic resources
find it easier to organize effectively and vice versa. As a result, there
are patterns of conflict between the constituent parts of civil society in
terms of interests, norms, and power. This is where there is a role for
the state: Harriss & de Rienzo (1997) suggest that the role played by
civil society organizations will depend on the wider political setting,
and on ways in which inequalities of power and resources are dealt with in
the economic and political arena. Therefore, they conclude that political
arguments, which pose civil society against the state, are "almost
certainly misconceived". The state does not have to be in conflict with
civil society, they can complement each other. In developing countries,
the state has been and is instrumental in allocating property rights over
resources and providing a stable political context within which
development can take place.
It is clear that, based on the debates from the UNESCO
workshop, there is a need to avoid an either/or logic. Strong state and
strong civil society are not contradictory. But one must not forget that
other social actors - living within strong states - might suffer a lot
from the lack of freedom of expression, for instance. Some people cannot
participate in civil society, and benefit from its strength; they only
suffer under the pangs of the strong state. Strong may also mean different
things: authoritarian and socially responsible. But the ideal state is a
strong one, one which is able to get things done and achieve development
whilst drawing its developmental vision from the unavoidable claims of a
strong civil society.
Civil society cannot drive democracy instead of the
state. Some even argue that "change cannot wait for communitarian
consensus within society but requires concerted action by the state as a
first step" (Putzel, 1997). While this point is debatable, it highlights
the importance of political parties, of promoting particular political
ideas, and of the quality of state intervention in meeting the conditions
for civic-ness; these characteristics, in conjunction with a strong civil
society, determine the democratic outcome at the national level.
2 Governance at the national
2.1 From good governance to "joint
Three theories of governance
Democracy is often associated with the word governance.
At the national level, there are three visions of governance. The first is
a liberal vision based on voluntary interchange between actors. This
vision is normally qualified as being "minimalist" as a result of the
importance given to governance in terms of groups of rules and
institutions managing the voluntary interchange between citizens and
political actors. "Such a perspective follows the utilitarian rationale
which places all actors around the negotiation table without establishing
a hierarchy between them, without taking into account the phenomena of
domination and exclusion of the weakest actors" (Milani, 2001b).
A second vision of governance is that of the new
institutional economics school, for which governance is the exercise of
authority and control. This school responds to the question "why would the
exercise of authority be necessary in a market economy in which private
parties are autonomous and the invisible hand is supposed to allocate
goods and services efficiently?" (Dethier, 2000). The answer is
that economic transactions, whether private or public, always involve a
certain degree of bargaining, and institutions are needed to define the
procedures under which this bargaining takes place and the mandates of
those involved. The outcome of the bargaining between parties to the
transaction is a function of several factors besides the initial contract.
Indeed, the purpose of a governance system, according to
the institutionalist school, is to regulate the exercise of authority by
setting up incentive schemes and commitment mechanisms. Because a
governance system is characterized by agency relationships, politicians
must be given incentives to seek social welfare, as they, too, have their
own objectives. When government protects private property rights and
enforces contracts, it achieves credible commitment among agents.
On the other hand, wherever there are institutional
weaknesses, there are "government failures" because incentive systems can
be inappropriate. In order to change this situation, the new economic
institutions have to arise to economize on transaction costs and to
overcome agency problems, thus translating into law incentive schemes that
are meant to improve efficiency and welfare. Such is the mandate of
governance. The main merit of this school of thought is that it is
anchored in real socio-economic mechanisms, i.e. it deals with issues of
bargaining, incentives, and commitment.
Milani (2001a) identifies another useful aspect of the
new institutional economics: its notion of governance focuses on the
promotion of transformations and new regulations at the level imposed by
the difficulties created ("subsidiarity") in terms of resources, rights,
capacities of society in general. It provides an efficient approach to
"targeting". However, its notion of incentives and commitment also brings
to mind the notion of manipulation, and the notion of market optimisation.
In other terms, the new institutional economics school is trying to
"marketise" state/society relations, in the pursuit of efficiency
As Cartier-Bresson (2001) reminds us: "the limit of
the analysis of governance by the new institutional economics, is that it
lacks a clear definition of the political, of its rationality and of its
capacity to coordinate itself in a non-hierarchical manner. The new
institutional economics is unfortunately too insensitive to the political
economy of redistribution to offer a comprehensive analysis of the
resource exchange between the state and society. Therefore we have an
institutional economics devoid of a political economy and a political
economy which only perceives purely utilitarian modes of market
coordination and rationality". The notion of "management", which
corresponds to governance for the institutionalists, is scarcely ever
understood as non-hierarchical. (5) The focus of the
institutionalists is management by control.
The third theory of governance is that of firm/corporate
governance. Indeed, the most widespread usage of the term governance
refers to corporate governance. It is useful to look at the evolution of
corporate governance to draw lessons for the evolution of political
governance. Particularly since the beginning of the nineties, the model of
Anglo-Saxon corporate governance, based on the rule of the shareholder,
has been submitted to violent criticism. Highly influential
businessmen/academics, such as John Kay, have bolstered the notion of the
stakeholder business, whereby, rather than being purely responsible to the
firm's shareholders, the board of directors is responsible to all of those
who have a stake in the firm, i.e. employees, consumers, suppliers, and
society at large. Because the firm has borrowed resources from society, it
becomes immediately responsible and accountable to all the participants in
its production and distribution processes. In other terms, property
confers not only rights but also responsibilities. (6)
Because there has been a move towards more
stakeholder-driven models of corporate governance such as the Japanese and
German ones, political governance should also adjust itself to this
trend of enlarging accountability and participation. The state's
legitimacy through governance can only be derived from a position
of responsibility to and inclusion of its "stakeholders", i.e. citizens,
in the decision-making process, thereby forcing it to engage in "joint
It is useful to examine the difficulties of stakeholder
corporate governance, and see whether they also apply to "joint political
governance". There are dangers involved in the stakeholder scenario: the
first problem is that it can be used as a rhetorical exercise. The
creation of supposedly independent remuneration committees by large
companies in Britain and the US has provided spurious legitimacy for
self-interested behaviour. How can this apply to political governance? Kay
himself mentions the case of the stultified regimes of Eastern Europe,
where the rhetoric of popular democracy was their means of legitimacy.
Here the risk of a participatory governance is that it remains
stuck at the level of words.
Second, "making bosses accountable to many stakeholders
might make them accountable to none, as there would be no clear yardstick
for judging their performance" (Kay, 1996). The same applies to the realm
of political governance: there may be so many divided interests in civil
society that the state becomes accountable to none. Thus, the delicate
balancing of criteria which has to be achieved in the new model of
corporate governance also applies to what we would call "joint political
governance": it should encourage cohesion within an executive team but be
sufficiently open to outside influence to discourage introversion.
A third problem with stakeholder corporate governance is
that efficiency in terms of increased profits suffers from multiple
accountability. A board of directors clearly works better if it is
cohesive, and can avoid reiterated argument about fundamental values on
every specific proposal before it. Similarly, conflicting interests may
hamper the delivery of development by states.
As UNESCO notes, "governance tends to encompass more
complex processes than planning, in the sense that those who participate
in these processes are organically part and parcel of them", and the
implication is that complexity can threaten the efficiency outcome,
through the pursuit of "multiple policy objectives" (UNESCO, 2001).
However, still in the realm of corporate governance, Kay
demonstrates the limitations of this efficiency argument: for him, "it is
simpler if a single clear objective [such as increasing shareholder value]
can be pursued. But that is the world of sportsmen and soldiers, not of
business and politics. As soon as you get to any job that involves
observation, analysis, or flexibility of response, you have to acknowledge
that there are multiple objectives and allow discretion as to which is to
be adopted. Balancing interests and objectives is what people live their
lives for and earn their salaries for".
The fact that objectives are multiple and complex does
not mean that people should not be held responsible for achieving them,
although when objectives are multiple and complex, it is easier to find
excuses for bad performance. For Kay, a good company is one that tries to
find new products, and also to improve the quality of old ones, to seek to
grow, and yet to be profitable, which aims to meet the needs of employees,
customers, suppliers and also the requirements of shareholders. An
effective manager is one who successfully balances all these things, and
he/she should be judged against all these criteria. Good political
governance tries to meet the needs of civil society and also the
requirements of government, through negotiation processes between groups
of stakeholders. This "joint governance" is directly derived from
2.2 International development
institutions and joint governance
What of the international development institutions? How
do they conceive of governance? On paper, the UN system emphasizes the
importance of a governance that would be participatory, transparent,
efficient, equitable and based upon law. UNDP defines governance as "the
complex ensemble of mechanisms, processes, and institutions through which
citizens and social groupings manage their interests and conflicts "
(UNDP, 1996). In fact, Milani (2001a) notes that by placing emphasis on
the process of economic openness and on the preparation of national
economies for the global market, in the mould of the recipes of
development banks, the UNDP ends up limiting the concept of governance to
that of the quality and ideal of a market economy. Crucial questions such
as socio-economic equality and income distribution are marginalized by the
UNDP governance agenda.
The World Bank, which first coined the term of political
governance, defines it as "the manner in which power is exercised in the
management of a country's economic and social resources for development"
(World Bank, 1997). The World Bank also emphasizes the importance of
good governance, which according to Sandbrook (2000)
connotes "sound development management". Here, efficient government, more
than democratic governance, is the central feature of the definition. The
good governance definition broadens the debate to analyse cases of
non-democratic governance. The World Bank's definition of governance
concentrates on the results, i.e. governance qualified as good
because it delivers economic and social development.
While the World Bank's definition of governance is geared
towards results, UNESCO's highlights governance as an end in itself. In
its definition of governance, UNESCO (2001) seems to avoid the UNDP and
the World Bank's obsession with the market. UNESCO attempts to focus its
definition on characteristics which represent the closest institutional
match for the theory of "joint governance"; its first three definitional
points constitute a direct reflection of the above description of "joint
governance", and require no further elaboration. However, it is useful to
note that the word democracy does not appear in the definition. UNESCO
places a greater emphasis on civil society as such, which can be described
as a shift from "supply-side" to "demand-side" development strategies.
There is a danger in a 90 degrees shift that ignores the
"supply-side", because civil society cannot be seen as the sole pillar of
democracy. States and programmatic party politics remain important actors,
as they are indispensable in channelling the demands for governance.
Objectives of governance
Having mentioned above that the hardest challenge for a
"joint governance" is to achieve efficiency, the next question is
efficiency in achieving what? Governance for what? It is our view
that governance should aim at setting economic and human development as
its primary goal. If so, it is essential that development records be
contrasted with governance models, in order to learn from their
It is true that one could be accused of imposing progress
as an agenda, in a way that would enrage the post-development school.
Nonetheless, the evaluative exercise is worth it, in order to seize the
consequences of particular types of governance. Even a governance model
reached through participation summons the definition of an objective. The
proposal of a particular governance is not enough; reflection upon its
applicability is required, and criteria for evaluation have to be set up.
Economic and human development is one such criterion; it is broad enough
to include a multiplicity of paths towards it, and thereby respect the
diversity that is at the heart of post-development concerns (for a
"different", non-democratic kind of model which nonetheless fulfils the
development criterion, see the box below, on East Asian governance).
2.3 "Joint governance" bringing
about economic AND social development
Given that efficiency constituted the main value added of
authoritarian states, it makes sense to ask whether "joint governance" can
promote economic development as efficiently as authoritarian states. While
at the beginning of the 1980s, authoritarian regimes were seen as
insulated from the demands of special-interest groups and were favoured
because they delivered development through market reform, the conventional
wisdom changed at the end of the decade.
The East Asian counter-example:
when governance is "efficient" public management
The East Asian states of the 1960s and
1970s were relatively hard, according to Robert Wade (1990), who
recalls that hard states are able not only to resist private demands
but actively to shape the economy and society. Facing only weak
centrifugal forces, East Asian rulers could generate enough
centripetal forces to risk the growth of powerful and effective
state agencies. The "needs of legitimacy" could be made more nearly
congruent with the "needs of economic development". By constructing
corporatist political arrangements before interests groups
began to gain or regain strength, rulers could channel and restrain
demands placed upon the state as those demands grew. In this kind of
political regime, the bureaucracy could more easily demonstrate
competence, because it was neither caught between and penetrated by
struggling interest groups nor subverted from above by the politics
of rulers' survival; this was a huge advantage of the developmental
state. The central economic mechanism of the capitalist
developmental state was the use of state power to raise the
economy's investable surplus.
However, the East Asian experience
does not end with the hard state. It must be divided into two
periods: the first one corresponding to the set-up of the
"developmental engine" by the developmental state, and the second
involving the follow up of development, i.e. the creation of a
desire for democratisation. In the East Asian case, non-democratic
government could be seen as a temporary sacrifice in the name of
development, which produced its fruit, and could then give way to
Is this sacrifice worthwhile?
Arguably, the strength of a national consensus of all social groups
around the goal of development can produce the same effect as the
authority of one state actor. Efficiency in attaining development
can be enhanced by a state that works in synergy with civil society
as opposed to a state that suppresses it. What is needed for
development is functioning institutions, but this does not
necessarily mean an authoritarian state.
As shown by the second phase of the
East Asian story, the most important argument against suppression is
that it is not sustainable. Suppression and sustainable development
are oxymorons, an aberration of logic. Besides, how much is the
miracle the product of historical circumstance and of an
idiosyncratic political economy of resources? In particular, how
many countries have state and bureaucratic capacities to be genuine
Democratic governments, in the revised view, could have
potential advantages in undertaking market reform (Sandbrook, 2000).
Various theories purported that democratic politics could be beneficial in
motivating governments to implement workable reform programs, building
popular support behind market-led development, and generating the improved
governance demanded by investors (see the box below).
On the other hand, the reality of developing countries
diverges significantly from the theory, as shown by Sandbrook. Indeed,
"general elections and multiparty competition do not banish - and may even
aggravate - the clientelism, factionalism, ethnic/regional loyalties, and
administrative weaknesses of the ancien regime. A monopolistic
party or junta driven with factions is typically replaced with a
fragmentary party system formed around prominent personalities and
regional or religious loyalties, rather than ideological differences"
(Sandbrook, 2000). In this weakened state, new governments confront high
public expectations aroused by the election campaign.
Sandbrook goes on to note: "if
authoritarian-developmental regimes on the East Asian model were a
practical alternative to emergent and weak democracies, they might be
preferable as agents of order and reform. However, in the case of Africa,
its historical, cultural, and material conditions are quite different from
those that underpinned the developmental state in countries such as Korea
or Taiwan" (Sandbrook, 2000). He mentions, nevertheless, that economic
progress in Kenya, Malawi, Cote d'Ivoire and Cameroon in the 1970s rested
on efficient, authoritarian-developmental regimes, but even those regimes
decayed in the 1980s.
Four hypothesies on the link between
democratism and market reform
Sandbrook formulates some hypotheses
as to how political liberalization may augment governmental
commitment to market reform:
1. "New Broom" hypothesis: economic
reform is doomed when a corrupt and illegitimate government, whose
leading figures and supporters reap rewards from the prevailing
state arrangements, reluctantly accedes to adjustment in order to
obtain much-needed loans from the international financial
institutions. But electoral transitions may elevate to power new
political leaders who are not yet anchored in pre-existing
clientelist networks and corruption.
2. "Local ownership" hypothesis: if an
elected government has freely adopted a reform programme, has
defended certain key changes in an electoral campaign, and governs
with support of the legislature, it will feel that it "owns" reform.
This sense of ownership can motivate a government to act
consistently on economic policy.
market reforms are to be sustained despite the steep transitional
costs of adjustment, a government must be able to mobilize support
from putative beneficiaries. Newly elected governments will benefit,
at least during the honeymoon period, from legitimacy, even in the
eyes of sectors whose interests are hurt by adjustment.
political requirement for market reform is restructuring of corrupt,
arbitrary, and undisciplined state apparatuses. Democracy, again in
theory, will generate the necessary accountability of officials and
transparency in decision-making, thus reassuring
For him, the ensuing weak and predatory states
represent - except for the political breakdown and chaos - the
worst-case scenario, given their propensity for both human-rights abuses
and economically destructive political capitalism. Political democracies
and market reforms offer some protection against both, as the cases of
Mauritius and Botswana, two of the region's political and economic success
stories, demonstrate. In other terms, for Sandbrook, democracy is the
least worst scenario between democracy and authoritarian rule, in
particular because it does not discard market reform. Sandbrook seems to
embrace the World Bank's instrumentalist vision of democracy, which he
sees mainly as a market-enhancer.
However, the essence of the first part of this paper has
been altogether different from the essence of Sandbrook's argument: while
Sandbrook has been useful in demonstrating that democracy is not
synonymous with growth-retarding development, and that it can be a means
towards economic development, his conception of democracy is at odds with
the conception put forward here. Unlike Sandbrook, for whom democracy is a
means to an economic end, this paper argues that it must be an end in
itself, a forum of participation. Democracy surpasses the authoritarian
state, in that it does not deny the economic growth the latter can
provide, while it builds on the social foundations that the developmental
state dismantles. Democracy offers a positive contribution to
participatory development and governance.
Part II: Global processes
3 Democracy at the global
How does democracy evolve in the context of
globalization? Three aspects of democracy have gained importance with
globalization, and the contributions of the different speakers at the
UNESCO workshop are organized according to these aspects. The first aspect
has to do with the consequences of globalization on the functioning of
democracy, while the last two deal with the implications of the
globalization of democracy itself.
First, how do the relationships between the three
essential actors in the democracy of the global age, i.e. the state, the
non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the international development
institutions, determine the democratic outcome?
Second, what scope is there for the globalization of
democracy? To what extent is there a justification in globalizing
democracy across cultures, in promoting it as a teleology, as some would
argue that this is nothing but cultural imperialism? Should democracy be
Third, who decides whether democracy is a preferable
political arrangement regardless of culture? Does globalization create a
divide between those who decide and those who undergo the consequences of
decisions, thereby threatening "decision-making democracy"? In this
context, the question of the conditionality imposed by international
development institutions becomes essential.
3.1 The effects of globalization on democracy:
interdependence between the NGOs, the state and the international
Global mechanisms mainly revolve around three actors, i.e. the NGOs,
the state and international institutions. Three papers examined the
interdependence between the three actors: those of Westendorff, Aureano,
International actors and the strengthening of local democracy
Westendorff and Aureano are mainly concerned with the direct linkages
between international and local actors. Westendorff analyses partnerships
between '"local authorities" and "civil society organizations", which
consist in linkages through service delivery, policy formulation,
advocacy, research, and capacity building. He defines the role of
international organizations as one of supporting and promoting efforts
towards the "dispassionate evaluation of the factors constraining and
promoting more positive interactions among local authorities and civil
society organizations at the local level", which appears as an extremely
prudent and non-constructive policy recommendation. He sees international
actors as being responsible for strengthening local democracy by promoting
partnerships, participating in the assessment of their quality and
suggesting improvements. For Westendorff, international organizations are
to strengthen democracy, and to further existing partnerships.
Guillermo Aureano's perspective is very different. He sees
international fora as suppressors of democratic forces. He focuses on
anti-drug trafficking and consuming policies. He takes two cases in which
NGOs attempted to open a dialogue with intergovernmental organizations
(IGOs), and explains their failure. He shows that in the Interamerican
system of drugs control, any alternative to prohibition, which is
precisely what the NGOs propose, is perceived as a threat. In San Jose,
the Canadian government attempted to highlight the role of NGOs:
interestingly, the state played the role of mediator between the NGOs and
IGOs. Despite this attempt, the IGOs did not change their viewpoint.
However, this initiative constituted an instance of state mediation,
arguing in favour of the state as a potential interface between the local
and the global.
It is often thought that the state is becoming stuck between pressures
from the bottom, through civil society, and pressures from above, through
international forces; yet it is more important than ever, as a mediator.
However, its failure in the case described by Aureano invites us to
reflect. Failure was mostly due to the mismatch between the objectives of
the NGOs, i.e. to further a "human security" approach to drugs, which
implies the reallocation of global resources towards the substitution of
drug cultivation, and the organizational inertia of international
institutions. This kind of objective would require a complete reform of
the international system, it means doing away with exclusion and social
polarization, which is precisely the business of international
organizations. As Lipschutz puts it, "what governments and regimes cannot
do - and will not do - is to challenge the constitutive basis of the
present-day global systems by asking: Who are we? Why are we here? And how
can we decide what we want?" (Lipschutz, 1996).
The NGOs had a rather ambitious goal that was sanctioned by the refusal
of IGOs to reform their agenda. When NGOs come to oppose IGOs, they are
often crushed, which leads one to consider other, more effective forms of
NGO activity than direct confrontation with IGOs (see Aureano's
description of the methods employed by the Lindesmith Center).
States as necessary mediators for NGOs in the international
Hermet offers an interesting complement to Aureano, via a focus on the
state as potential mediator between NGOs and international institutions.
He reminds international actors not to "marginalize the State, and give
too many responsibilities to NGOs only". What he calls parallel
governance, i.e. the unmediated interaction of international actors with
civil society, deprives the state from a fraction of the intervention
space that it needs to reassert its democratic image; this is particularly
true in the case of the young Latin American democracies. One of the roles
of the state, for Hermet, is still to manage the practical interventions
of international regimes and propose amendments to them.
In addition, where NGOs fail to reform the international system from
within, as shown by Aureano, only states (and certain states) have an
opportunity to exert pressure on this system, or to at least diffuse a
debate at the intergovernmental level, given that they themselves are
legitimate constituents of and contributors to the inter-state system.
They are more immediate stakeholders in the inter-state system, and
therefore are necessary mediators even for the NGOs themselves. Critical
mass is a pre-requisite. Until the world has become truly global,
rather than intergovernmental, the unmediated interaction between NGOs
and inter-state institutions will be prone to failure.
The "civil society factor" may be more or less influential depending on
the current and evolving balance of power between civil society, the
international environment, and the state. Yet civil society is not the
"missing link" in development, and the role of the state, in particular as
mediator within the international system, is still important. One must
also be aware of the dangerous imbalance in a direct confrontation between
the world of the "bottom" and the world of inter-state aggregates, and of
the scope for misunderstanding and possibly exploitation and subversion of
3.2 The logic of universalisation: on the
globalization of democracy
Disjunction between local cultural features and Western consensual
It is undeniable that somebody needs to question the principles of the
international system. One of these principles is the prescription of
Western democracy as the sole model of democratic governance, regardless
of individual cultural considerations. One must examine whether this
prescription is a form of cultural imperialism. Can a disjunction appear
between local cultural features and a Western model of consensual
To begin with, how can universalisation be justified? Political
philosophy can be helpful in answering the question "is it just to
impose democracy as a universal good"? On the grounds of John Rawls'
theory of justice (7), the external
imposition of democracy can be defended. (8) However, there
are loopholes in Rawls' argument. He states that "our exercise of
political power is fully proper only when it is exercised in accordance
with a constitution, the essentials of which all citizens as free and
equal may be reasonably expected to endorse in the light of principles and
ideals acceptable to their common human reason" (Rawls, 1993). In his
"veil of ignorance theory", Rawls starts from the concept of the citizen
as moral person, which underlies the fair cooperation of politically
autonomous citizens, without sufficient prior justification.
His assumptions are questionable, as noted by Habermas (1998): indeed,
"it is only when the self-understanding of each individual reflects a
transcendental consciousness, i.e. a universally valid view of the world,
that what is equally good for all would actually be in the equal interest
of each individual". In the context of our discussion, one could say that
Rawls is ignoring the reality of social/cultural pluralism, as his
entire theory is based on the unmodified assumption of a common human
As an alternative to a Rawlsian theory of justice, Habermas calls for a
theory of justice based on discourse ethics. Here, "everyone is required
to take the perspective of everyone else and thus to project themselves
into the understandings of self and world of all others; from this
interlocking of perspectives there emerges an ideally extended
"we-perspective" from which all can test in common whether they wish to
make a controversial norm the basis of their shared practice" (Habermas,
1998). This procedure, unlike Rawls', does not bracket the pluralism of
convictions and worldviews from the outset.
The main point to be retained from Habermas is the importance of
context, which means that an assessment of the validity of the external
imposition of democracy only has value if it consists in an examination of
particular cases. This section focuses on the case of Africa. In Africa,
democracy has a very contrasted record across the continent. While "mass
poverty, limited economic development and ethnic/religious divisions
present the most unpropitious environment for democratic institutions
imaginable" (Sandbrook, 2000), there is a great diversity in the quality
of democracies in the continent.
Pseudo-democracies, such as those of Niger, Zambia, and perhaps
Tanzania, exhibit distinctive traits, which are those of a non-operational
democracy: restrictive laws, intimidation, and rigging to win elections.
In Madagascar, Ghana, and perhaps Mali, the situation is not so bleak; all
three have maintained a good human-rights record and have fair elections.
However, according to Sandbrook, African legacies of personalistic and
clientelistic politics - a legacy with roots in the precolonial period -
constrains democratic politics.
The perpetuation of such practices impedes the institutionalisation of
healthy issue-based parties. However, regardless of the difficulties
transmitted by historical legacies, "democratisation may provide a way of
taming the neo-patrimonial state and re-establishing legitimacy based on
representation and the equitable provision of important public services"
(Sandbrook, 2000). As such, democratisation is a way forward in the
African setting. But the question is "what democracy is being envisaged"?
Paul Nkwi and Dorcella Bazahica look at potential problems in the
application of democracy to the African context, while Jean-Pierre Razafy
considers the legal aspects of the "transfer of democracy". Paul Nkwi
attempts to analyse the inconsistencies between African cultural features
and the logic of democracy. Nkwi attracts attention to two African
characteristics, which seem to be hindrances to democratic development.
First, he notes that there are difficulties in nurturing "civic"
culture in Africa where "invisible organizations" promote a primordial
consciousness, because of the prevalence of the economy of affection.
Then, he notes, like Jean-Francois Bayart (1998), that the state has
been converted into a source of economic resources, a mode of production,
which means that those capturing power have little interest in introducing
political accountability. How does one cultivate values of associational
autonomy and opposition to the state in a context where the state earns
one a living and where the affective rules all? Surprisingly, this leads
Nkwi to promote civil society, good governance and a strong media, yet
adapted with a view to catering to African realities. The problem is that
he proposes no methods of adaptation whatsoever, thereby allowing us to
conclude by default that there is precisely no scope for adaptation.
Besides the cultural specificities of African countries, there are also
ethnic features that render the functioning of democracy quite difficult.
Dorcella Bazahica illustrates this problem in the case of Burundi. She
notes that recently, in Burundi, only negative solidarity has gained in
importance, that is solidarity based on ethnicity, regionalism, rather
than positive solidarity, which is a pre-condition of the democratic
project. This is an insightful idea in that there is no reason why
association has to be based on opposition to another group. The only
pre-requisite of association is that it be voluntary.
The major problem with the application of democracy in the case of
Burundi is that democratic pluralism emphasizes difference, which means
that it accentuates ethnic divisions, which are acute in Burundi. A
democracy based on majority voting implies the perpetuation of the ethnic
majority's rule, which is a reminder that majority rule is not always the
most democratic measure in the end. The conclusion is that democracy is
not a recipe that can be universally applied.
More thought has to be given to the alterations that are required in
different contexts, as in some cases the political construct called
democracy may only help to accentuate the real inequalities and imbalances
Last, Jean-Pierre Razafy reflects upon the legal aspects of the
"transfer of democracy". He finds that the logic of the market is a threat
to the rights of individual countries, whose cultural specificities are
ignored because countries are reduced to being markets. For him, a country
which is able to transfer technology or products via a global strategy
engages in a cultural activity which also has an impact on democracy in
another country. He finds that culture must "go beyond its boundaries to
re-find the common essence of fundamental rights and democracy" [my
translation]. He explores Japanese and Chinese law, and identifies both
traditional characteristics and democratic values, but his point is that
there are universal aspirations to democracy in all cultures that simply
have to be brought to the fore; this is a subjective viewpoint which is up
Contradiction between participatory development and its imposition
Who is to make these democratic aspirations come to the
fore? How legitimate and in particular how just is it for the World
Bank or International Monetary Fund to intervene in the affairs of
individual states, proclaim that the time for democracy has come, and more
importantly make its aid conditional on the adoption of democracy?
Regarding this issue, Razafy contradicts himself by
mentioning that "a people must develop its own competencies to attain an
endogenous development" [my translation], while he also notes that the
principles and criteria of democracy are defined in programmes of
cooperation that are supposed to set up the rule of law, and which are
proposed by donors.
When the issue of "democratisation" of decision-making is
brought up, a number of questions emerge: who takes decisions? Who suffers
the consequences? Who owns the democratic reform? Who are the different
stakeholders in democratisation, now that it has become a globally
The essence of the dilemma of decision-making
democratisation is whether development can be participatory (an essential
aspect of democracy) if it is the product of an imposed conditionality.
Here lies a contradiction. Indeed, "if Western governments or multilateral
agencies push governments too aggressively, they achieve not a political
commitment to reform but a shallow and sullen acquiescence. If donors
impose reforms, governments will lack the motivation to implement them
effectively. Displacing leaders immersed in political capitalism may
facilitate executive commitment to pushing through market reforms, but
long-term implementation of controversial programs requires that
governments and elected representatives "own" their own projects"
Burnell (1993) mentions that when participatory democracy
is set as a condition for World Bank aid, there is the risk of a creation
of "convenient" democracies, which are not the result of an organic
process of democratisation achieved by pressures from the grassroots.
Annik Osmont contextualises the issue of decision-making
democratisation by focusing on decision-making within the city. Her
article identifies those excluded by global decisions in the context of
the city. She demonstrates how global governance can exert itself at the
expense of local governance through the perverse mechanism of
conditionality. She argues that the neo-liberal doctrine transforms the
city by imposing its infrastructure for investors, and transferring the
dynamism of the urban population from the informal to the formal sector.
Rather than examining simultaneously the two aspects of development, i.e.
macroeconomic and socio-structural, international institutions consider
urban development to be a pre-requisite to macroeconomic development.
This top-down approach runs against her understanding of
the city as the source of democracy through the development of
"contre-pouvoirs". Osmont demonstrates the instrumental use made of the
city by international financial institutions. The city is not valued as a
public space, but only indirectly, as a means of market optimisation,
which denies its role as the source of contre-pouvoirs, and as a
real setting for participation.
The international financial institutions are seen as
following the old model of governance, based on the hegemony of one
stakeholder, i.e. the investor, as opposed to the multiple stakeholders of
new models of governance. Even worse, they are suppressing the emergence
of participatory processes in the name of the market.
Osmont calls "market democracy" the neo-liberal process
through which only one shareholder in the city, i.e. the investor, holds
power. This process exemplifies the lack of "decision-making
democratisation": "it is not possible to isolate the planning of projects
from who creates them, from what managers want".
To sum up, Osmont makes the point that international
institutions apply a top-down approach to urban development with a
rhetoric of participation; however, only local mediators can be the
channels of a democratic urban development. This example illustrates the
difficulties of decision-making democratisation in a global world.
4 Governance globalized: from
technocratic to joint global governance
4.1 Rethinking the management of
The system of governance at the global level has to be
rethought in its entirety, not just at the level of its operational
concepts, as was shown above, but also at the level of its mechanisms and
of the actors it involves. Flaws in the management of globalization must
be identified. As Sandbrook mentions in the case of Africa, "democratic
development in Africa will be unlikely in the absence of a new global
order" (Sandbrook, 2000). National efforts towards democratic governance
are themselves partly dependent on a reform of global governance. The
linkage between the national and global levels should be the common
pursuit of a governance based on participatory mechanisms. Sandbrook
boldly states the need for a "social-democratic pattern of globalization".
The notion of global governance is extremely old. It goes
back to Kant's pursuit of "perpetual peace" (Kant, 1795). For him, the
legal principles implemented within single states should lead ultimately
to a global legal order that unites all people and abolishes war. He finds
that a "federation of nations" could be in the self-interest of each
state, based on the peaceful character of republics, on the power of
international trade, and on the regulatory function of the public sphere
(global civil society). Despite some limitations outlined by Habermas
(1998), the applicability of his claims to present day situations is
A couple of centuries later, the Alliance for a
responsible, plural and united world (2000) notes that there are clear
flaws in the present system of global governance, whose architecture was
set up at the post-war Bretton Woods conference. "Private agendas
substitute for public ones in the absence of rules capable of promoting
any international public good other than the freedom of circulation of
commodities and trade". The latter point implies that globalization
remains a purely economic phenomenon, centred on private sector actors
without any public sector management.
The current system of global governance embodies the
North-South imbalance of interests. Its institutions are lacking in
coherence; even within the limited realm of the financial institutions,
the contradictions and overlaps between the World Bank and the
International Monetary Fund are a huge source of problems for countries
undergoing their structural adjustment/ stabilization programmes.
The current system is based on antiquated notions of the
state as the exclusive embodiment of public interests, which implies that
the management of globalization remains interstatal, thereby reducing
socio-political reality by ignoring the local-national-global whole (see
the box for an illustration of this point in the case of environmental
The Alliance suggests three principles for a renewed
global governance. First, the principle of responsibility states that "all
power induces responsibility", and in particular responsibility relative
to the impact of the exercise of power on third parties, which corresponds
exactly to the principles of stakeholder theory in corporate governance.
By way of example: the environment
in need of global governance
On the basis of these theoretical
speculations, the reforms of global governance could be very
usefully applied to the environment question. In particular, an
important bridge between the two concepts is that the environment is
a public good, so that the objective in the global governance of the
environment can be seen as finding environmental problems which can
be solved by a regulation at the global level. Indeed, as mentioned
by Lipschutz (1996), "given that the state and its agencies, as well
as markets, are primarily engaged in the maintenance and
reproduction of social structure, under conditions of great stress
and dynamic change, what is the likelihood of developing and
implementing successful policies to protect the environment" [other
than at the global level]? Therefore, networks between the local,
civil society and the global regulators need to be developed and the
concept of global governance must be
Second, the principle of subsidiarity implies that, while
the greatest possible autonomy will be granted to different levels of
authority, in situations where jurisdiction is necessarily shared, there
will have to be cooperation among the different levels in the exercise of
Third, the principle of plurality states that the
identification of a common objective for collective action must not
conflict with the diversity of cultural affiliations and identities. As
mentioned in the analogy of corporate governance, there is an enormous
difficulty involved in managing unity when difference can resurface at any
time to create divides. The Alliance suggests a means of overcoming this
problem through the creation of partnerships at the various territorial
scales, but does not elaborate any further. The Alliance goes on to
suggest further proposals, such as:
(i) Publicizing the decisions of those bodies in charge
of the implementation of international rules, imposing sanctions on the
non-execution of mandates.
(ii) Associating global civil society to the preparation
of international rules to increase the legitimacy of international
institutions, through clear methods of civil society representation
ensuring the international representation of the different social
sectors, appeal mechanisms, global consensus conferences, and
monitoring systems by civil society.
(iii) Involving national parliaments in international
debates and promoting their cooperation with other national parliaments.
(iv) Reinforcing Southern countries' capacities of
analysis, independent appraisal and proposal in the framework of regional
Regarding points (iii) and (iv), the Alliance seems to
assume a level of openness to international/regional fora which simply
does not exist in most states; in particular, the regionalisation of
developing countries is a chimera, which was first advocated decades ago
by the dependency school, without much success.
When it becomes concrete, and this has been the case for
instance in the Mercosur since the mid-eighties, it is not driven by
states and de jure integration, but by business interests and de facto
integration. If one sees business groupings as a part of civil society
(although this is a point of contention), there was a regional civil
society in the Mercosur, which was able to push forward the regional
trading block between states. This was already an achievement of civil
society in itself. However, it did not give birth to a genuine political
integration; the phenomenon of integration remains economic.
Integration continues to contribute to the
intensification of flows of trade and capital conducted by private sector
interests, and not to the construction of a regional public space. In
other words, regional integration is not an answer to problems of
governance for the developing countries.
4.2 Global governance through
GLOBAL civil society?
If the current global governance system is so flawed, how
feasible is it to reform it? The 1970s witnessed a major campaign to
achieve a New International Economic Order more favourable to the
interests of the developing world, which ended up in failure following the
debt crisis. Do new factors make a new order any more politically feasible
today? According to Sandbrook, "the governments of Europe, the United
States, and Japan are unlikely to negotiate a social-democratic pattern of
globalization - unless their hands are forced by a popular movement or a
catastrophe, such as another Great Depression or ecological disaster"
(Sandbrook, 2000). Hence the central role of civil society in the
possibility of changing global governance. "Popular movements will need to
unite the new social movements - the environmental and
development-oriented NGOs, human-rights associations, peace activists,
consumer protection groups, anti-poverty alliances, students' associations
- with the older movements, especially labour" (Sandbrook, 2000).
It is not just civil society that becomes important in
the global governance problem, but global civil society. Indeed, it should
have become clear by now that global governance is not solely about
interstatal governance, but also about global civil society. For
Sandbrook, global civil society exhibits clear strengths:
- its energy and idealism, and thus its ability to stir the public's
- its mastery of networking via electronic mail, Internet sites, and
- its success in shaping global governance in a number of instances:
the "50 years is enough" campaign for cutting the funds of the World
Bank and IMF, which caused Mr Wolfensohn to forge links with the NGO
community and institute a new sensitivity to the social effects of Bank
lending; and the campaign against the Multilateral Agreement on
Investment, which was aborted in 1998.
Lipschutz (1996) has a very different conception of
global civil society. He defines it as "a transnational system of rules,
principles, norms, and practices, oriented around a very large number of
often dissimilar actors, focused on sustainability and governance". On the
basis of this concept, Lipschutz redefines the notion of governance:
rather than the state or international institutions, for him, it is global
civil society itself that can modify the underlying constitutive rule
basis of modern civilization and develop new modes of local as well as
transnational governance. It thereby lays the basis for broad
institutional, social and political change. In that sense, governance
becomes a quite different proposition than "global management". While
global civil society can be complementary to the state in some ways
(states and civil society interact dialectically, recreating and
legitimating each other over and over), the state is engaged in
government; civil society in governance.
In other words, Lipschutz sees the growth of
institutions of governance at the civil society level of analysis, with
concomitant implications for state and system. Subsumed within the
system of global governance, he sees "institutionalised regulatory
arrangements - some of which [he] calls "regimes" - and less formalized
norms, rules, and procedures that pattern behaviour without the presence
of written constitutions or material power".
For him, the strategies of global civil society must
involve more the creation or transformation of systems of rule
and rules, than the reform of big institutions and structures,
which is bound to fail, as shown by Aureano. "The activities of global
civil society are to help to change the ideational frameworks that support
one set of constructions of social reality by replacing old
intersubjective rationalities and ethics with new ones". In other terms,
global civil society's role is to create new bodies of knowledge that are
the basis for changes in beliefs and practices. This role of global civil
society is undeniable and constitutes the essence of a renewed meaning of
the word governance. However, to say that global civil society is the sole
shaper of governance constitutes a mistake: the emphasis on global civil
society should not displace states, in that the latter have a role in
implementing change as well.
While global civil society can modify the set of
ideational frameworks of states, it remains that the material embodiments
of ideational frameworks will be significantly determined by states, so
that global civil society should not be seen as divorced from the latter.
Governance remains shared. Global civil society cannot be seen as a
replacement for states nor institutions.
Linkage between the two variables of democracy and
governance at the global level
In conclusion, there are five key issues at the
crossroads of democracy and governance:
- First, at the national level, civil society must be strong, but this
does not deny the role of the state. State and civil society should
function as partners in a national "joint governance" based on formal
democracy, power distribution between those who govern and those who are
governed, negotiation processes between groups of stakeholders, and
decentralization accompanied by flows of information to the
- Second, when considering the global level, the democratic outcome
will depend on the nature of the interplay between the state, NGOs and
- Third, it is important to assess the scope for the globalization of
democracy. The adaptation of democracy to different cultures and ethnic
patterns is not straightforward.
- Fourth, an implication of globalization for democracy is a change in
the locus of decision-making: increased international interference
through conditionality turns democracy into an obligation, and does away
with a spontaneous democracy from below. Democracy from above is a
contradiction in terms.
- Fifth, because interdependence through globalization creates winners
and losers, there is a need for a reform of global governance
institutions and mechanisms, which should be based on responsibility,
subsidiarity and plurality, and on the achievement of coherence across
the local/national/global levels.
Part III: Policy Options and
The neo-liberal economic model, which is the intellectual
foundation of the current global governance system, stipulates that the
redemption of developing countries lies in adjusting their policies,
institutions, and modes of governance, to permit their deeper integration
into the prevailing pattern of neo-liberal globalization. However, "in
this emerging global economy, many are called but few are chosen"
(Sandbrook, 2000). Neo-liberal globalization does not favour the
developing world's progress.
Developing countries share certain generic shortcomings
of globalization that its critics, and even some of its supporters,
- growing inequalities, as certain countries, regions, ethnic groups,
and classes win while others lose in global competition, together with
growing insecurity of employment and income, both or either of which can
lead to social disintegration, conflict, and crime;
- environmentally unsustainable economic practices that ineffectual
governments desperate for investment cannot or will not control, and
which produce scarcities, pollution, disease, and further poverty.
Under these circumstances, it is implausible to claim
that developing countries have "little to lose, and much to gain" from
globalization. Neo-liberal globalization is unlikely to generate sustained
growth in developing countries. And democratic development will be
unlikely in the absence of a new global order. If so, Part I of this paper
becomes less important than Part 2, given that national reform will be
inefficient if not accompanied by global reform. Before national reform
can come into play, the foundations of a "joint global governance" must be
established. What is needed is a social-democratic pattern of
globalization that requires some enforceable international agreements,
which amount to joint global governance:
- A social charter banning child and forced labour and ethnic or
gender discrimination in employment and guaranteeing basic union and
- An environmental charter setting minimum environmental standards for
participants in free trade.
- New redistributive mechanisms. These accords would distribute "a
substantial part of the economic gains from globalization to those who
are most in need and most vulnerable to the massive restructuring that
globalization brings in its wake" (Robinson, 1995). The idea would be to
tax undesirable transnational activities - speculative movements of
capital and environmental pollution, for example - in order to transfer
resources to depressed regions. Such transfers, if well targeted, could
encourage the growth that would allow societies to escape the poverty
trap and support democratic development. One useful tool could, for
instance, be a tax on international currency transactions, in particular
a "Tobin tax".
- Last, for the above reform of global governance to take place, a
necessary condition is the existence of a strong global civil society to
make the new order more politically feasible today. To be effective,
popular movements must operate on a transnational as well as national
and local basis.
Global Civil Society
Global Governance Reform
- social charter
- environment charter
- partnerships (see below)
National Governance Reform
- power distribution
- negotiation between stakeholders
Policies on the organization of global
The above chart immediately begs the question "how are
the linkages between national governance, global governance, and global
civil society organized?" Here again, a business world analogy can be
useful, given that it is business that has the most experience in
organizing globalization. Because transnational corporations are the most
advanced global actors, there is a lot to be learnt from their
organization of the globalization of production, which can be adapted to
the globalization of governance. Instead of simply criticizing
corporations for holding a disproportionate share of the world's
resources, there is a case for learning from their experience to
re-establish a balance in the world system.
Ietto-Gillies claims that "transnational corporations are
the institutions that truly operate across nation-states. They own assets
across borders and they can plan, organize and control production across
countries. In this role they shape the pattern of globalization rather
than bear its consequences" (Ietto-Gillies, 2000). The main reason why
transnational corporations have been able to take advantage of
globalization more than other economic/social actors is that they have
learnt how to organize it. Recently, the most successful transnationals
have created new modes of organizing their innovative activities (Zanfei,
2000). First, different units of transnational corporations, including
foreign-based subsidiaries, are increasingly involved in the generation,
use and transmission of knowledge. Second, transnationals are developing
external networks of relationships with local counterparts, through which
foreign affiliates gain access to external knowledge sources and
As a result of this evolutionary process, transnationals'
organization is subject to both centripetal and centrifugal forces.
Considerable efforts are then necessary to find new coordination
procedures and mechanisms, in order to enhance the generation, circulation
and use of knowledge. A widely held view is that transnational
corporations need to adopt effective organizational devices that, while
safeguarding the autonomy of units, ensure an acceptable degree of
A transnational corporation needs to address
simultaneously three imperatives, i.e. global efficiency, national
responsiveness, and the ability to develop and exploit knowledge on a
world-wide basis. What does the transnational corporation do to address
its three imperatives?
First, to meet the goal of global efficiency, it develops
export-oriented links with globalized supply perspectives. In other words,
it turns world-wide resources into an integrated network.
Second, to meet the imperative of national responsiveness,
transnational corporations need multinational flexibility, which is
secured through differentiated and specialized subsidiary roles.
Subsidiaries are still defined primarily by the multinational role of
supplying local markets in a responsive manner. Third, transnationals
increasingly pursue world-wide learning through the joint development and
groupwide sharing of knowledge. This can take the form of subsidiaries
that make use of leading-edge technology that is locally available in
order to develop products that may be applied elsewhere in the group. Thus
headquarters relinquishes some of its lead role to subsidiaries.
Of course, the coordination of political units is not as
straightforward as that between the headquarters and subsidiaries of a
transnational firm; but both firms and the constituents of the global
governance system have in common the fact that they are organizations, in
North's sense of the term (North, 1990). If they want to take advantage of
globalization, they have to know its rules, so as to make it better serve
their interests. The three imperatives highlighted above in the case of
the transnational are imperatives dictated by globalization. Global
governance organizations also face three equivalent imperatives: they have
to address global integration, local differentiation, and world-wide civil
society demands. So how can global governance organizations address these
Global governance is mainly about coordination between
different levels of decision-making, i.e. the local, national, and global.
The key challenge of a new global governance is to keep a balance between
coordination and autonomy of different levels (which is the same challenge
as that faced by transnationals). Maintaining this balance implies a
series of measures.
First, global governance should reflect the global. The
operationalisation of this global character can go through the creation of
an integrated network between the different locals and nationals (the
equivalent of subsidiaries) and the global (the equivalent of the
headquarters of the firm). There will be a need for inclusion of all these
units in governance. However, before this integrated network can emerge,
two issues have to be addressed:
- In the current system of global governance, there are no global
organizations, only interstatal ones. Here again, the role of global
civil society in creating a genuinely global space in governance is key
(see chart above).
- Following the creation of this space, there will also be a need for
coordination measures between the different units that form the global
itself, i.e. global civil society and interstatal institutions.
Only once these two issues have been addressed, will it
make sense to create an integrated network between all governance units.
Second, global governance should take local issues to the
global level and fulfil local requests in the global arena, whether this
occurs through indirect state channels or through direct local ones.
However, for local claims to have an impact which is more material than
"ideational", they will have to obtain the assent of the state, which
alone can deliver change on a large enough scale to make a difference. In
that sense, rather than the state being an intermediary between the local
and the global, one could see the global as an intermediary between the
local and the state: a neutral ground on which the local can lay its
Third, global governance must favour the differentiation
and decentralization of governance at the local level, and promote
autonomy. Respecting autonomy can even mean placing local governance above
global governance when appropriate. Global governance should invest local
units with decision-making authority on issues that have global
consequences, if they are endowed with a particular
capability/expertise/knowledge to best deal with the issue. In this case,
global governance must give way to local governance.
The delicate point is that while global governance should
promote local autonomy, it must ensure that information feedback still
flows from the local to the global institutions towards the promotion of a
common good. That is where the global is more than the sum of the
locals/nationals. In that sense, it has a life of its own. "One of the
roles of international rules is to ensure as much as possible the cohesion
and unity of the whole, by taking into account two conditions: the need to
promote our common good or goods; the need to preserve the greatest
possible autonomy for each of the components" (Alliance for a Responsible,
Plural and United World, 2001).
Therefore, local autonomy in decision-making has to be
combined with the need to promote the common good or goods, which requires
information flows through networks from the local to the global.
Globalization imperatives for transnationals and global
integrated network; globalized
integrated network; include all units
(national, local) in governance
differentiated and specialized
Bringing the local to the
the global as intermediary between
local and state
headquarters relinquishes lead role to
subsidiaries. Subsidiaries make use of leading-edge local technology
to develop products applied elsewhere in the group
Global learning through local
global relinquishes lead role to local
governance when justified. Locals make use of particular knowledge
or expertise to make decisions with global consequences
The need for the creation of networks
Ways to combine unity and plurality are required towards
the construction of a renewed global governance. The difficulties of
plurality are simply the manifestation of an organic global society, which
is also ridden with conflict, and articulated by difference. But global
governance has to organize development around this unstable society,
because as Stiglitz (1998) states, "development must be considered as a
process of social transformation". Because social transformation is
complex, it requires all the more communication and synergy between all
the actors of the transformation, from the local to the global through the
national. The creation of networks between participants in the development
process is a must.
More specifically, there is a need for partnerships
between the local, national, and global "stakeholders" in the governance
Interestingly, in the field of aid, the UK Department for International
Development (DfID) has also been promoting the partnership approach very
heavily in its projects.
A partnership "is a type of participation in which two or
more stakeholders share power equally in the management of an aid
activity" (DfID, 1995). First the identity of the key stakeholders must be
discovered. This takes place through a stakeholder analysis by the
organization. This analysis aims to identify and define the
characteristics of key stakeholders; assess the manner in which they might
affect or be affected by the programme outcome; understand the relations
between stakeholders, including an assessment of real or potential
conflicts of interest and expectation between them; and assess the
capacity of the different stakeholders to participate.
In this process, primary and secondary stakeholders will
be identified. The participation of primary stakeholders is essential in
projects that are expected to have a direct positive impact on defined
groups. Some kind of partnership will need to be established between
primary stakeholders and the implementing agency.
In the case of global governance, it would seem that most
of the time the primary stakeholder, who bears the consequences of most
decisions, would come from the local level. Secondary stakeholders would
include representatives of the implementing agency, whether at the state
or local level, and of the relevant line ministry. Their primary
consideration is the potential for affecting the livelihoods and welfare
of the activity's primary stakeholders, i.e. local level actors.
Systematic information exchange and consultation between the global
governance organization managing the process and other secondary
stakeholders contributes to decreasing misunderstandings.
The key issue for partnership with primary stakeholders,
at the local level, is that efforts at partnership may be undermined by
non-participatory, hierarchical management structures. If partnership is
to be a process whereby local level actors - those with rights and/or
interests -play an active role in decision-making and in the consequent
activities which affect them, then hierarchical management will have to be
reformed, at the global/national/ and local levels. This is a prerequisite
for partnerships to work.
The same way that firms have to adapt to globalization by
switching to a non-hierarchical flexible specialization management model,
governance organizations also have to acknowledge this need for
"heterarchical" management. As Deleuze (1988) would say, globalization is
a rhizome: it is a structure that cuts across multiple levels (local,
national, global), and unites them as a whole. An individual level cannot
be cut off from the rhizome, and all levels become interdependent. In this
kind of complex structure, the challenge is to organize globalization.
Whether economic or political globalization is concerned,
the difficulty remains the same. Rising to the challenge of globalization
means doing away with hierarchical organization, and learning how to
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(2) Throughout this paper, the names of the participants in the
UNESCO seminar at the World Social Forum will be highlighted.
(3) There are two main models of democracy: according to the
liberal view, democracy has the function of bundling together and bringing
to bear private social interests against a state apparatus that
specializes in the administrative employment of political power for
collective goals. In the republican view, democracy constitutes the medium
through which the members of solidary communities become aware of their
dependence on one another and further shape existing relations of
reciprocal recognition into an association of free consociates under law.
For an analysis of alternatives, see Habermas (1998), on deliberative
(4) For the sake of simplicity and
structure, the discussion of local democracy and governance is
incorporated to the section on the national level, but it must be clear
that the local, national, and global levels are equally important and
interdependent determinants of democracy and governance.
(5) Even within the firm, which is just another institution
with incentive and enforcement mechanisms, the notion of a cooperative
management à la Japonaise, giving innovation initiative to the shop-floor
worker, is only beginning to take on, despite the academic celebration of
flexible specialization models.
(6) Interestingly, in
Elizabethan English, the verb "to own" did not only refer to property but
it also meant "to owe". Another etymological oddity can be found in the
German language, where Schuld means both financial debt and
(7) Rawls' theory of justice is based on two
principles: (1) everyone is entitled to an equal system of basic
liberties; (2) there must be equal access to public offices, and social
inequalities are acceptable only when they are also to the advantage of
the less privileged. The second principle is subordinate to the first
(8) For a detailed outline of the argument, see
(9) However, Kant did not witness
an important change which took place in the twentieth century: with the
outlawing of war and "crimes against humanity", states as subjects of
international law have lost their presumption of innocence. This means
that the notion of state sovereignty, which was an important obstacle in
his project, has begun to be eroded, thereby allowing for a genuine
non-interstatal global governance to emerge.
Here again, there is an analogy with corporate governance, as firms are
increasingly resorting to strategic alliances between one another: this is
supposedly the age of alliance capitalism.
About the Author:
Francesca Beausang (PhD in Management Studies,
Cambridge University, England) is assistant Professor of Development
Economics at the London School of Economics and Political Science,
Development Studies Institute, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE, United
Kingdom (UK), email: firstname.lastname@example.org
© UNESCO 2002
The opinions expressed in this publication are those
of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of