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UNESCO / MOST Discussion Paper No.59: "Democratising Global Governance: The Challenges of the World Social Forum" by Francesca Beausang
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Management of Social Transformations - MOST

Discussion Paper No. 59

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Democratising Global Governance:

The Challenges of the World Social Forum


Francesca Beausang


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 level.


Preliminary definitions

Part I: National processes

1 Democracy at the national level: prerequisites to a global democracy

1.1 Civil society as necessary to make democracy work

1.2 Political consciousness and social capital

1.3 State/civil society

2 Governance at the national level

2.1 From good governance to "joint governance"

2.2 International development institutions and joint governance

2.3 "Joint governance" bringing about economic AND social development

Part II: Global processes

3 Democracy at the global level

3.1 The 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

3.3 Decision-making democratisation

4 Governance globalized: from technocratic to joint global governance

4.1 Rethinking the management of globalization

4.2 Global governance through GLOBAL civil society?

Part III: 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 processes?

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 flows;

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 importance (www.unesco.org/most/wsfunesco.htm).

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 level.

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 governance".

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?

Preliminary definitions

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 (3)  (Putzel 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 affiliation.

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 democracy work

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 villages.

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 social capital

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 political processes.

1.3 State/civil society

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 level

2.1 From good governance to "joint governance"

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 objectives.

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 governance".

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 stakeholder theory.

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 correlation.

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 long-term democratisation.

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 "hard" states?

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.

3. If 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.

4. A 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 investors.

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 level

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 exported?

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 institutions

    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, and Hermet.

    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 system

    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 the "bottom".

    3.2 The logic of universalisation: on the globalization of democracy

    Disjunction between local cultural features and Western consensual politics

    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 politics?

    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 reason.

    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 of society.

    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 for discussion.

      3.3 Decision-making democratisation

      Contradiction between participatory development and its imposition through conditions

      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 monitored process?

      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" (Sandbrook, 2000).

      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 globalization

      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 astonishing. (9)

      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 issues).

      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 renewed.

      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 "shared responsibility".

      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 coalitions.

      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 conscience.

      • its mastery of networking via electronic mail, Internet sites, and fax machines.

      • 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 centre.

      • Second, when considering the global level, the democratic outcome will depend on the nature of the interplay between the state, NGOs and international institutions.

      • 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 Local-Global Linkages

      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, identify:

      • 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 bargaining rights.

      • 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.

      Joint global governance:

      Global Civil Society


      Global Governance Reform

        • social charter
        • environment charter
        • redistribution
        • partnerships (see below)


      National Governance Reform

        • democracy
        • power distribution
        • negotiation between stakeholders
        • decentralisation

      Policies on the organization of global governance

      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 application abilities.

      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 cohesion.

      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 three imperatives?

      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 claims.

      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 governance organizations

      Transnational corporations

      Global governance organizations

      Global efficiency


      integrated network; globalized supply

      Global integration


      integrated network; include all units (national, local) in governance

      National responsiveness


      differentiated and specialized subsidiary roles

      Bringing the local to the global


      the global as intermediary between local and state

      Worldwide learning


      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 autonomy


      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 process.(10) 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 practice "joint" corporate and political governance.


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      (1) See http://weforum.org/whatwedo.nsf/Documents/What+We+Do+-+Annual+Meeting+200.

      (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 democracy.

      (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 guilt.

      (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 one.

      (8) For a detailed outline of the argument, see Macdermott (2001).

      (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.

      (10) 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: f.a.beausang@lse.ac.uk

      © UNESCO 2002

      The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of UNESCO.


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