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The Hague-Delhi Initiative on Global Governance
28 November 2012

Observer Research Foundation (ORF) and the Hague Institute for Global Justice (THIGJ) recently hosted the second workshop of ’The Hague Initiative on Global Governance’ in New Delhi.  The Initiative, which began with an interaction at the THIGJ, Hague in April 2012 intends to map out - over the course of three years of regular exchanges, publications, conferences and seminars - perspectives, positions, and points of divergence among nations (Developed and Emerging) that currently prevent meaningful consensus on important global issues.

At the second meeting, held between November 21 and 23, scholars, policy-makers, political commentators and advisors from all BRICS countries along with Turkey, Colombia, the US and the EU came together to take the initiative further. They shared and discussed papers and identified core issues on which to jointly embark on research and discussions in the coming months. While new institutions for global governance are generally reactive, constructed only after major crises, participants at the Delhi conference expressed hope that the initiative can help to shape, ex-ante, more effective and representative institutions of global governance.

On the first day, deliberations revolved around five paper presentations -- John C. Hulsman, from John C. Hulsman Enterprises, provoked a lively debate on the difficult issue of burden and power-sharing in the context of global governance. He emphasised nation states as the indispensible building block of the international order for the foreseeable future, especially given the emergence of BRICS and other emerging economies where sovereignty matters and in tandem with the US which differs in this regard with the EU as well. In this environment, interest must necessarily trump a nebulous conception of ’common values’ if real progress is to be made. Only in this context can greater burden and power-sharing occur, which is necessary for integrating emerging powers into structures of global management. There was broad agreement that while the West may be in relative decline, interest-based compromise from all players will be necessary in global forums in order to successfully accommodate interests of rising powers and indeed the developing countries.

Sun Jisheng, from China Foreign Affairs University, presented a paper of her colleague Qin Yaqing, introducing the idea of relational governance as a means of emphasizing the development of partnerships in the international arena over negotiations of stakeholder interests. She noted that the increasingly threatening nature of global problems is an indication of global governance failures. While the world is becoming multi-polar, global institutions are still governed by Western-led, ruled based paradigms. Three principals for global governance must be followed moving forward. One, (pluralism) reformed institutions must be democratized, inclusive and accommodating. Two, (partnership) relationship-based governance will help create a global identity, meaning shared cross-border stakes in solving the world’s problems. Third, (participation) involving new actors must be highlighted over punishing international norms violators. This can create a positive ’co-evolution’ process, which will help tackle current failures in governance.

Francis A. Kornegay, from the Institute for Global Dialogue, highlighted the dilemma of nation-state political sovereignty being diluted by both the dynamics of economic globalization and the diffusion of power to supra-national entities, despite their seemingly increased lack of legitimacy. He argued that sometimes supra-national entities like the EU or indeed the evolving African Union are outcomes of efforts to have greater weight on high tables where global rules are shaped.

Jan Rood, from the Netherlands Institute for International Relations Clingendael, presenting a paper by his colleague Peter van Ham, sparked a discussion on the efficacy of existing international financial groupings and the question of whether a viable alternative can actually exist. While the G20 was recently a good economic crisis manager with a gun to its collective head, it has since been ineffective in shaping new international governance architecture. Emerging nations are still clamoring for increased representation at the World Bank and IMF. Meanwhile, the G8 is no longer representative of the multi-polar world order.

Salma Bava, from the Jawaharlal Nehru University’s School of International Studies, posed the question of how to make global governance representative and equitable, a clearinghouse for resolving crisis that avoids the Old World method of war. Unfortunately, politics is apt to see itself with traditional thinking, which may stymie reform. However, the EU and its member states are attempting to make linkages and create networks with individual emerging nations that may have different value systems, while also working to solve problems multilaterally through the UN system. It was observed that the approach of the EU has an inherent paradox where it is a Economic giant on the one hand and a political non-entity in the eyes of many nations on the other. Additionally, while EU has strategic partnerships with many emerging countries, its large member states too have such bi-lateral agreements with the same countries.

The second day was dedicated to arriving at a definition of a future ’mission statement’ for the Hague initiative - one equally understood and shared by its participants - as well as the identification of topical areas on which future joint research and exchanges could be focused. Topics discussed included a new global energy pact, global commons, maritime security, development cooperation architecture, UN reform, urbanization, and the right to protect. In the end, Ocean Governance and the Future Financial System were tentatively singled out for further discussion at the upcoming conference. The initiative will also continue to focus on mapping out persistent structural, ideological and perceptional cleavages in the current global governance system.

The next meeting of ’The Hague-Delhi Initiative on Global Governance’ will again be held in The Hague during May 2013 and will zero-in on the two aforementioned issues alongside the larger effort to map cleavages in global governance and find ways to bridge the differences and distances. The larger policy-making community will be invited to participate in some of the discussions and/or comment on recommendations of the Initiative.

The "Hague-Delhi Initiative on Global Governance," as it has been re-branded in Delhi, will continue to bring voices from the old and new powers to the table, and perspectives from the old and new civilizations. Apart from THIGJ and ORF, the initiative has been supported by the Dutch Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Netherlands Institute for International Relations Clingendael.


(This report is prepared by Antje Uhlig, Assistant Director, Development, and Daniel Rubin, Luce Fellow at Observer Research Foundation)

’List of participants’