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With the future of liberal internationalism in question, how will China's growing power and influence reshape world politics? We argue that views of the Liberal International Order (LIO) as integrative and resilient have been too optimistic for two reasons. First, China's ability to profit from within the system has shaken the domestic consensus in the United States on preserving the existing LIO. Second, features of Chinese Communist Party rule chafe against many of the fundamental principles of the LIO, but could coexist with a return to Westphalian principles and markets that are embedded in domestic systems of control. How, then, do authoritarian states like China pick and choose how to engage with key institutions and norms within the LIO? We propose a framework that highlights two domestic variables—centrality and heterogeneity—and their implications for China's international behavior. We illustrate the framework with examples from China's approach to climate change, trade and exchange rates, Internet governance, territorial sovereignty, arms control, and humanitarian intervention. Finally, we conclude by considering what alternative versions of international order might emerge as China's influence grows.
At a point when global governance appears to be at a crossroad, caught between globalizing and national populist forces, International Relations theorists are deeply immersed in debating what brought the world to this point. This contribution enlists Michael Zürn's A Theory of Global Governance (2018) to explore the state of global governance theory through a focus on three substantive themes: authority, legitimacy, and contestation in global governance. It identifies the current state of theorizing on each theme, situates Zürn's claims within these literatures, and previews counterpoints from a variety of theoretical perspectives.
A Theory of Global Governance is a long awaited book that finally theorizes the increasing authority of international institutions and the conflicts emerging from it. With its focus on reflexive deference as a basis for international authority it covers important elements of global governance but also leaves some critical blind spots regarding the forms of super- and subordination. In our engagement with Michael Zürn's book we propose to conceptualize international authority as a subcategory of international rule instead of its essence and to investigate various forms of rule by way of analyzing the resistance they provoke instead of institutionalized mandates.
Prompted by both promises and pitfalls in Michael's Zürn's A Theory of Global Governance, this paper reflects on challenges going forward beyond liberal institutionalism in the study of world politics. Six suggestions are particularly highlighted for future theorizing of global governance: (a) further distance from state-centrism; (b) greater attention to transscalar qualities of global governing; (c) more incorporation of social-structural aspects of global regulation; (d) trilateral integration of individual, institutional, and structural sources of legitimacy in global governance; (e) more synthesis of positive and normative analysis; and (f) transcendence of Euro-centrism. Together these six shifts would generate a transformed global governance theory – and possibly practice as well.
Today's global governance is qualitatively different from the past, according to Michael Zürn's penetrating analysis. With the rise of epistemic authority, reflexivity, service, and request have come to surpass command and control as key modes of global governance, leading to new forms of legitimation and contestation. I engage with this rich and thought-provoking argument on three counts. First, it remains doubtful that states defer to international organizations because the latter ‘know better’. There exist many gaps in epistemic authority and politics often trump rationality in global governance. Second, it is not clear how global hierarchy, which Zürn equates with ‘pockets of authority’, could emerge out of demands and requests, precisely because epistemic authority is so fluid and prone to contestation. Third, as historically young and increasingly based on service authority as it may be, contemporary global governance still rests on a body of inherited practices whose legitimation principles seem closer to tradition than to reflexive justification.
Michael Zürn's A Theory of Global Governance is a major theoretical statement. The first section of this essay summarizes Zürn's argument, pointing out that his Global Politics Paradigm views contestation as generated endogenously from the dilemmas and contradictions of reflexive authority relationships. Authoritative international institutions, he maintains, have difficulty maintaining their legitimacy in a world suffused with democratic values. The second section systematically compares Zürn's Global Politics Paradigm with both Realism and Cooperation Theory, arguing that the three paradigms have different scope conditions and are therefore as much complementary as competitive. The third section questions the relevance of Zürn's argument to contemporary reality. Great power conflict and authoritarian populism in formerly democratic countries generate existential threats to multilateralism and global institutions that are more serious than Zürn's legitimacy deficits.
As global governance institutions appear increasingly contested by state and non-state actors alike, understanding their origin, operation, and impact is becoming ever more urgent. This symposium uses Michael Zürn's A Theory of Global Governance: Authority, Legitimacy, and Contestation (OUP, 2018) as a springboard to explore the state of global governance theory. A Theory opens new terrain and advances bold and original arguments, including the contention that global governance is itself best understood as a political system. It analyzes a cycle from rising authority beyond the state through the 20th century, to ensuing legitimation problems toward the century's end, to the politicization and contestation triggered by such problems. A book of such ambition inevitably elicits queries within diverse international relations research communities. This symposium features seven articles from diverse traditions in engagement with A Theory's understanding of global contestation, authority, and legitimacy. These are followed by a response from Zürn. An introduction situates A Theory within extant research on global governance, highlights its endogenous theory of global politics, and identifies the stakes of deepening research on the sources of global authority, contestation, and political legitimation.
This response to my critics discusses four claims that are central for A Theory of Global Governance. The first claim is that observing a high level of conflict and contestation in world politics is not proof of the unimportance of global governance, since many of the current conflicts and contestations are about international institutions. The second claim is that the 1990s saw a rise of trans- and international authority beyond the nation-state that is essential for the rise of a global political system. Third, a global system of loosely coupled spheres of authority relies on ‘critical deference’ (reflexive authority) but also contains numerous elements of coercion. And fourth, a technocratic legitimation of intrusive international authorities cannot build on emotions or a sense of belonging. This deficit creates a political opportunity structure that allows for the rise of a myriad of dissenters. The relative importance of them depends on the availability of resources for mobilization and not on the quality of reasons for resistance.
Michael Zürn's Theory of Global Governance is an original, bold, and compelling argument regarding the causes of change in global governance. A core argument is that legitimation problems trigger changes in global governance. This contribution addresses two core features of the argument. Although I am persuaded that legitimacy matters, there are times when: legitimacy appears to be given too much credit to the relative neglect of other factors; other times when the lack of legitimacy has little discernible impact on the working of global governance; and unanswered questions about how the legitimacy of global governance relates to the legitimacy of the international order of which it is a part. The second feature is what counts as change in global governance. Zürn reduces change to either deepening or decline, overlooking the possible how of global governance. In contrast to Zürn's map of global governance that is dominated by hierarchies in the form of international organizations, an alternative map locates multiple modes of governance: hierarchies, markets, and networks. The kinds of legitimation problems that Zürn identifies, I argue, can help explain some of the movement from hierarchical to other modes of global governance.
The complex issues of the twenty-first century cannot be addressed by disparate actors in the global arena. This has become even more apparent in 2020, as we celebrate the seventy-fifth anniversary of the UN and have witnessed the outbreak of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has put the UN system to the test, demonstrating weaknesses in regard to peace and security, sustainable socioeconomic development, and human rights, the three core mission areas of the organization. The underlying tensions between the ideals of liberalism associated with the UN's human rights and socioeconomic-development agendas and the institution of sovereignty, under nationalist strongman leaders throughout the world, stood in the way of an effective response. This is especially true as powerful states are able to thwart collective action in favor of their own perceived national interests. While the UN and its affiliated agencies, such as the World Health Organization, are still able to foster cooperation, their success is limited by the organization's inability to establish some form of authority and command.
Climate change is one of the most daunting global policy challenges facing the international community in the 21st century. This Element takes stock of the current state of the global climate change regime, illuminating scope for policymaking and mobilizing collective action through networked governance at all scales, from the sub-national to the highest global level of political assembly. It provides an unusually comprehensive snapshot of policymaking within the regime created by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), bolstered by the 2015 Paris Agreement, as well as novel insight into how other formal and informal intergovernmental organizations relate to this regime, including a sophisticated EU policymaking and delivery apparatus, already dedicated to tackling climate change at the regional level. It further locates a highly diverse and numerous non-state actor constituency, from market actors to NGOs to city governors, all of whom have a crucial role to play.
After briefly comparing the findings of the above cases, Chapter 7 considers their broader reach through a preliminary exploration of the mobilisation of ethics experts in the case of synthetic biology of the United States. It then connects the argument of the book to the literature on the politics of ethics in IR, making it clear that the expertisation of ethics has in fact allowed for a more efficient political mobilisation of ethics. It finally points to the relevance of the book’s findings to existing debates on the making of knowledge, agendas and policies in global governance.
Littoz-Monnet provides a fresh analysis of the enmeshment of expert knowledge with politics in global governance, through a unique investigation of bioethical expertise, an intriguing form of 'expert knowledge' which claims authority in the ethical analysis of issues that arise in relation to biomedicine, the life sciences and new fields of technological innovation. She makes the case that the mobilisation of ethics experts does not always arise from a motivation to rationalise governance. Instead, mobilising ethics experts - who are endowed with a unique double-edged authority, both 'democratic' and 'epistemic' - can help policy-makers manoeuvre policy conflicts on scientific and technological innovations and make their pro-science and innovation agendas possible. Bioethical expertise is indeed shaped in a political and iterative space between experts and those who do policy. The book reveals the mechanisms through which certain global governance narratives, as well as the types of expertise they rely on, remain stable even when they are contested.
Amid widespread concern about the role of subsidies in the depletion of global fish stocks, the UN Sustainable Development Goals identified achieving a WTO agreement to restrict fisheries subsidies as a major international priority. Seen as an important means for the WTO to contribute to addressing a pressing global development and environmental issue, and thus resuscitate the institution following the Doha Round collapse, fisheries subsidies have been the subject of intense negotiating efforts at the WTO. However, the key issue of contention is how China and other large emerging economies should be treated under any new disciplines. The fisheries subsidies issue sharply underscores the problem with extending special and differential treatment (SDT) to China: since China now has the largest industrial fishing fleet in the world and provides the greatest volume of subsidies, exempting its subsidies from disciplines would severely harm the sustainability of global fisheries. Efforts to negotiate a standalone agreement on fisheries subsidies have run aground amid this central issue of dispute. The result has been a failure to arrive at new disciplines, the consequences of which are felt most keenly by poor developing countries whose populations are heavily dependent on fisheries for food security, livelihoods, and exports.
This chapter explains why environmental health issues carry profound implications for China’s future and how they threaten to severely weaken the nation’s economic growth, undermine its sociopolitical stability, and complicate China’s foreign relations. Environmental health issues not only exact a significant economic toll but also have profound sociopolitical implications. With the growing public attention on air quality, pollution has increasingly become a political issue that tests the Chinese government’s ruling capacity. The environmental health problems, in conjunction with other mounting domestic challenges, will constrain Chinese leaders’ ability to mobilize the resources and internal support necessary for China to play a global leadership role.
The 2-degrees target of the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goal 7 on energy are intrinsically intertwined and highlight the urgency of an effective and integrated approach on climate change and energy. However, there are over a hundred international and transnational institutions with different characteristics and priorities that aim to address climate and energy-related targets. While prior research has contributed useful insights into the complexity of climate and energy governance, respectively, an integrated and coherent analysis of the climate-energy nexus is lacking. This chapter therefore maps, visualizes, and analyzes this nexus, i.e. institutions that seek to govern climate change and energy simultaneously. In addition, the chapter zooms in on three specific subsets of institutions: renewable energy, fossil fuel subsidy reform, and carbon pricing. The mapping and analysis are based on a new dataset and provide first insights into the gaps, overlaps, and varying degrees of complexity of the climate-energy nexus and across its subfields. Moreover, the chapter serves as the empirical basis for further analyses of coherence, management, legitimacy, and effectiveness, and as the first step in creating a knowledge base to guide actors who seek to navigate the institutionally complex landscape of the climate-energy nexus.
Fossil fuel subsidy reform can contribute to both climate change and sustainable development goals. However, subsidies to fossil fuel consumption and production continue to persist in developed and developing countries. International cooperation can play an important role in promoting or hindering reform. This chapter examines the coherence of international governance of fossil fuel subsidy reform. The chapter discusses the emergence of a core norm of fossil fuel subsidy reform, the distribution of membership across international institutions, and the various governance functions fulfilled by the international institutions active in this area. To further assess coherence, the chapter focuses on a subset of three international coalitions active in the area of fossil fuel subsidy reform: the Group of 20 (G20), the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), and the Friends of Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform. The chapter identifies an emerging division of labour, with different institutions taking charge of various governance functions. Where activities do overlap, they generally appear to reinforce one another. With respect to the G20, APEC, and the Friends of Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform, the high level of consistency appears to be the result of planned coordination, overlapping memberships, as well as a brokering role taken on by some countries. test
The concluding chapter first summarizes some of the volume’s main results along the four evaluative themes. In terms of coherence and management, the three policy fields under scrutiny – renewable energy, fossil fuel subsidy reform, and carbon pricing – are roughly marked by coordination, rather than competition or outright harmony. Regarding legitimacy, the specializations and work backgrounds of stakeholders lead to considerable variations in their perceptions of institutions. For effectiveness, institutional complexity plays both a supportive and a hindering role across all three cases. Following the summary, a series of policy recommendations is developed, including: improving awareness of each other’s activities to avoid duplication of efforts and conflicting messages; aligning interpretations of central concepts, i.e. what constitutes renewable sources of energy, fossil fuel subsidies and carbon pricing; building stronger connections to counterparts in other areas of the climate-energy nexus and beyond; and entrusting one institution with an orchestrator role. Finally, the chapter suggests a future research agenda on the governance of the climate-energy nexus, e.g. to learn more about the causes of institutional complexity, to identify conditions for successful management efforts, and to examine further subfields and even other domains outside the climate-energy nexus.
This chapter establishes four evaluative themes that will be employed across this volume to analyze the institutional complexity of policy fields in the climate-energy nexus: coherence, management, legitimacy, and effectiveness. Coherence among institutions is conceptualized along four dimensions: convergence on an overarching core norm for the policy field, balanced coverage and distribution of memberships (private, public, hybrid), balanced coverage and distribution of governance functions (standards and commitments, operational activities, information and networking, financing), and mechanisms underlying cross-institutional relations (cognitive, normative, behavioural). Management will be examined according to types of managing agents, political levels (from domestic to global), and the consequences of management efforts in enhancing coherence. Legitimacy will be assessed along nine dimensions, among them expertise, transparency, accountability, or procedural and distributive fairness. Effectiveness, finally, will be examined in terms of normative and legal output produced by the institutions, their behaviour-changing outcome, and their ultimate problem-solving impact. Altogether, the four themes and their dimensions make up a novel framework for an in-depth analysis of a governance nexus. They help us examine a variety of important questions in a comparative research design, combining a high level of ambition with feasibility and novelty.