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Grand Compromises in Global Governance

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2013

Abstract

Two attempts at grand compromise have underpinned global order since the end of the Second World War. The first, a compromise between laissez-faire liberalism and domestic interventionism, famously described by John Ruggie as ‘embedded liberalism’, legitimated and stabilized a multilateral order for 50 years. A second attempt, this time between North and South at the end of the Cold War around a discourse of ‘sustainable development’, remains uneasy, conflict prone and much less institutionalized. They are compared and contrasted by asking whether they are truly compromises or reflect domination and hegemony, what conditions led to them, and what drivers of change have limited and challenged them. Ultimately, differences in their bases of legitimacy offer lessons for the prospects of building a new grand compromise in the wake of contemporary strains on global governance.


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Copyright © The Author(s) 2012.

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References

2 Ruggie, John Gerard, ‘International Regimes, Transactions, and Change: Embedded Liberalism in the Postwar Economic Order’, International Organization, 36: 2 (1982), pp. 379415 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

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4 While climate change – and the related challenge of increasing energy demand – has received the most attention among planetary pressures, a variety of other environmental and resource concerns have also risen to what some argue are crisis proportions, including fresh water, fisheries and ocean health more generally, and food security.

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6 On this distinction, see Matthew J. Hoffmann and Alice D. Ba, ‘Introduction: Coherence and Contestation’, in Matthew J. Hoffmann and Alice D. Ba, Contending Perspectives on Global Governance: Coherence, Contestation and World Order, New York, Routledge, 2005, pp. 8–10.

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10 Richard Bellamy, Markus Kornprobst and Christine Reh, ‘Introduction: Meeting in the Middle’, in this volume.

11 Ibid.

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18 Ibid., p. 394.

19 Ibid., pp. 394–7.

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21 Ruggie, ‘International Regimes, Transactions, and Change’, p. 394.

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32 Ibid., p. 43.

33 Ibid., pp. 50–1, 89.

34 Ibid., pp. 67–91.

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39 The full story is slightly more complex. The norm is repeated in the Cancun agreements, and continues to be invoked in a wide number of negotiations and agreements, but a more fluid understanding of differentiation seems to have replaced the either/or interpretation in the Kyoto Protocol (see http://unfccc.int/meetings/cancun_nov_2010/items/6005.php). The lack of legally binding commitments may also be temporary, but so far only the European Union has indicated a willingness to take on legally binding commitments following the expiry of Kyoto's first commitment period 2012. Negotiations continue on the exact form of a subsequent agreement.

40 Gareth Porter and Janet Welsh Brown, Global Environmental Politics, 2nd edition, Boulder, CO, Westview Press, 1996, p. 117.

41 The United States released ‘interpretive statements’, including on its long-standing opposition to a ‘right’ to development on the grounds that a ‘right’ might override other rights, such as human rights. According to the statement, the United States does not oppose Principle 3, understood as the promotion of development ‘in a way that the development and environmental needs of present and future generations are taken into account’.

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46 On the history of UN, WTO and Bretton Woods coordination in the follow-up to the Monterrey Conference on Financing for Development, see Louis W. Pauly, ‘The United Nations in a Changing Global Economy’, in Bernstein and Pauly, Global Liberalism and Political Order, pp. 91–108.

47 UN, ‘The Future We Want’, Zero Draft of the Outcome Document for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development’, submitted by the co-chairs, 10 January 2012.

48 Peter Newell and Matthew Paterson, Climate Capitalism: Global Warming and the Transformation of the Global Economy, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2010.

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54 Devetak and Higgott, ‘Justice Unbound?’.

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56 Others (Thomas M. Franck, Fairness in International Law and Institutions, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1995; and Devetak and Higgott, ‘Justice Unbound?’) argue that conditions under globalization have sufficiently changed that justice and legitimacy may be linked globally as they are within the state.

57 Margalit, On Compromise and Rotten Compromise, pp. 4–5, 54.

58 Ibid.

59 Bernstein, The Compromise of Liberal Environmentalism; Kornprobst, Markus, ‘Argumentation and Compromise: Ireland's Selection of the Territorial Status Quo Norm’, International Organization, 61 (2007), pp. 6998 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

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62 Bellamy, Liberalism and Pluralism, pp. 102–11.

63 Newell and Paterson, Climate Capitalism.

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