Friday, 14 October 2011

Global Governance: Achievements, Challenges and Prospects for the Future

Precisely in 1945, at the end of the Second World War, the peoples of planet earth were united. United in a common goal to prevent at all cost a reoccurrence of the mammoth loss of lives, property and love which was heralded by the grim drums of war. Nations joined hands to rebuild destroyed lands regardless of regional affiliations.
Consequently, the need to institute structures that would last the test of time in maintaining international peace while providing needed socio-economic assistance to the destitute and other vulnerable groups gave birth to Global Governance. Thus, in the ensuing years after the war, several intergovernmental organisations were formed which took up diverse roles in line with the developmental vision: The United Nations (UN), International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), etc.
Global Governance is not synonymous to Government; rather, it is the framework of rules, institutions, and practices that set limits on behaviour of individuals, organisations and companies to promote economic growth, social development and environmental stewardship.
This is 56 years after the institution of Global Governance and I personally find great relevance in writing this piece as it is important, for continuous growth, that we look de novo at these institutions not only to examine the things that might have gone wrong but to remind us of the remarkable contributions of Global Governance to humanity.
I consider the UN’s Eight (8) Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) a notable achievement of Global Governance because it has successfully brought to the fore and to the awareness of all and sundry, the key problems facing the world. It has successfully sensitised majority of the world on the rot being caused by these problems and  has garnered overwhelming support from NGOS, organisations, institutions, companies, governments, advocacy groups...just name it! The entire world is doing something now to solve the ‘biggest challenges we face today’, as it is usually put. In my country, from as low as the primary and secondary schools, competitions, fairs and summits all revolve around proffering solutions to the MDGs through essays, debates, IT contests, community service, social entrepreneurship, etc. The beauty of it is not the fact that everybody knows of the MDGs but that at every turn somebody is doing something to combat it in any little way.
I find it appropriate to further classify the achievements of Global Governance in the ways it has improved life economically, socially and environmentally as these three (3) indices tend to address the full sphere of man’s concerns for proper existence.
Economically, the World Bank in a bid to combat poverty and create enabling environment for sustainable growth has, over the years, provided enormous financial assistance to developing countries and peoples around the world. It has done this through provision of loan and grant facilities to ailing Governments, through programmes aimed at creating jobs and promoting entrepreneurship. The truth is, the list of countries that have received different forms of financial assistance from the World Bank is endless. The continuous funding of infrastructural(power, water, land, bridges) projects in Nigeria is a typical example. The remarkable result is that poverty has reduced more in the last 50 years than in the previous 500 years.
Socially, the United Nations Security Council continuously addresses many issues of global concern. Instances include the passing of resolutions to rescue civilians from the carnage wrought by the authoritarian regime of former Libyan Head of State, Col. Muammar Gaddafi; the economic and trade embargoes of rogue states such as Iraq, the sanctions on nuclear-threatening states such as Iran and North Korea, and calls for judicial procedures for ex-rulers (e.g. Charles Taylor) accused for crimes against humanity.
Through efforts of the World Health Organisation in curbing the spread of pandemics, billions of lives, both young and old have been saved around the globe especially in developing countries such that a UNDP developmental report revealed that life expectancy in the developing world have risen by over 20years.
Education has not been left out as combined efforts of these intergovernmental organisations in ensuring universal primary education have yielded tremendous results across regions. Literacy level is up by 34% in China, 33% in India, 39% in sub-Saharan African and 41% in North Africa.
Environmentally, though we cannot say that ground-breaking progress has been made in handling the world’s most serious environmental challenges especially global warming, we see continuous, dedicated efforts (through conventions such as the Kyoto protocol) to bring together representatives across nations to discuss lasting solutions to this problem.
Admittedly, despite the fact that about 70% of World Governments now run Democracies courtesy of Global Governance, at least a half of these cannot be said to be truly democratic (including my home state, Nigeria). Most of these countries only exercise nascent democracies, and in some cases, full blown fascism under the facade of “government for the people, by the people...” The result is millions of these same people, suffering under dire economic conditions, deplorable quality of life and in the dark pitch of environmental gloom; abandoned to the callousness of a select few in power. From this, stems one of my dreams for Global Governance, “enshrinement of the true tenets of democracy especially in developing countries.”
I do not consider combat or debate as the biggest threat to democracy, but silence and complacency. Therefore, I hope to see global co-operation that would bluntly condemn without reservations and bring to an immediate halt any government parading dictatorial movements as democratic ones in today’s world.
Secondly, I hope for a new dimension to the developmental efforts of global co-operation. By this new dimension, I mean a world where the co-operation of other governments and international institutions can help ailing National Governments ensure clean air, water and environment; run a safe, efficient airline system; attack organised/crude crime; solve management of plagues such as AIDS, poverty, genocide – by realising that each human is a member of planet earth, a citizen of the world’s People and not only a citizen of his/her country. And so I believe that Global Assistance must be provided to defend the basic rights and needs of people under the shackles of Governments that have proven to be clueless in addressing issues of National need.
Thirdly, it is true that the MDGs have helped us make landmark achievements in addressing key problems in our world today, but we find that the targets set for these goals are still not within reach on the specified timeline and so efforts must be re-focussed to accelerate our drive towards reducing these problems to the barest minimum.