The Concept Of Global Governance

This essay seeks to examine how the concept of global governance as has become a key issue in solving global problems. The essay will start by introducing the concepts of global governance using different readings, lectures, Journals and my personal view regarding the issue. The first section of the essay will illustrate the need of global governance as required for global solution, and the second

t is important to identify the role of civil society in governance because there is actually a controversy about its role in relationship with the state. For example, Tocqueville (1969) argues that civil society is the most credible alternative to the state for the delivery of public goods. On the other hand, Hegel considers its role as being complimentary to that of the state and he puts a premium on the role of the state. Political Scientists such as Stephan (1998), Stocpol (1992) and Keane (1998) agree that civil society organisations are pre-requisite for making good governance. The World Bank and the United Nations also share the view that there can be no good governance without civil society.

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The term civil society is itself a subject of many debates. In order to identify the role of civil society in governance, It will be necessary to clarify the context in which the term is been discussed in this paper. Even the notion of good governance is contestable and as such will also require some clarifications. Doornbos (2003:4) agrees that there has “hardly been a consensus about its core meaning”.

In this essay therefore, attempts will be made, using available literature to define the terms civil society and good governance, explain the inter-face between the two concepts, identify the roles of civil society in governance, give a brief description of our case study, which in this instance is South Africa, analyse the impact of civil societies in relationship with good governance in South Africa and conclude on the basis of my findings.

The Concept of Civil Society.

Civil society is pluralistic in meaning. Perhaps the most profound and enduring definition of the term is that of Locke(1963), who describes civil society as a contract between equals founded on the basis of voluntarism. Tocqueville (op. cit.) builds on the definition provided by Locke and extends the concept further by introducing the idea of collective action as a way of curbing state tyranny for the purpose of producing the common good. Thus, the notion of civil society as a model of self-governance through voluntary effort for the delivery of common good was first introduced. Also, the ideas of voluntarism and collective action projected by these authors form the basis of democracy which is crucial for civil society. Friedman and Mckaiser argue that civil society and democracy are interdependent. According to them, democracy is the vehicle through which civil society can acquire a voice to speak for the people.

More recently, Edwards(2005) while exploring the ideas of some modern philosophers who project the idea of civil society as the public sphere (Habermas 1989) and the good society( Kant 1970), concludes that the idea of civil society remains compelling because it brings out the best in us and establishes lasting solutions for issues of inequalities, social injustice and poverty. Cohen and Arato (1992) distinguish civil society from the state and market and argue that it could become the needed instrument for expanding civil rights and democracy. This interpretation of the concept emphasises the idea of democracy which is also considered a necessary condition for good governance.

There are many other interpretations of this term by different theorists, but for the purpose of this discourse, civil society will encompass all collective actions by voluntary organisations within the public sphere for the purpose of delivering the common good. It will include activities of Non- Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Social movements, informal and formal communal groups which collaborate with other institutional pillars to deliver goods of public value.

The Concept of Good Governance.

Governance as a word connotes control, regulations and order. Court, Hyden and Mease (2004: 16) describe governance as a system of regulations and rules within which social actors must take decisions for the purpose of creating social order. Swilling (1997) agrees that governance is the relationship between power structures to create “a civic public realm”

However, the idea that good governance is dependent on civil society makes the concept complex and pluralistic in meaning too. According to Warren (1999), liberal democrats will define a government as “good” only if it has the following attributes; freedom of information and freedom of the press, citizens capacity building strategy, upholds the fundamental human rights of citizens, encourages collective action and decision making, provides avenue for public opinion and institutional checks and balances.

Evans (2012) advances another idea of good governance premised on integrity in public administration. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Transparency International (TI) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are some of the advocates of integrity as new public management strategy for the purpose of achieving accountable, transparent and responsible public institutions (ibid). In this model, the OECD identifies eight different criteria for good governance, which it calls “ethics infrastructure”. They are;

“political commitment to integrity, effective legal frame work, efficient accountability mechanisms, workable codes of conduct, professional socialisation of staff, supportive public service conditions, an ethics coordinating body; and an active society performing a watchdog role”.

In this arrangement therefore, civil societies are assumed to be integrity agents and they are expected to monitor the activities of public institutions to ensure accountability, transparency, competence and responsiveness in public administration (ibid).

Grindle (2004), while criticizing modern day advocates of good governance agenda for not putting in place a priority list, advances the idea of ‘good enough governance’ , which to him is more realistic. This model embodies important issues relating to culture, context and priority national developmental goals.

It is evident from the discourse above that good governance means different things in different context, but it has certain common attributes such as poverty reduction (Stapenhurst & Pelizzo, 2002),accountability, transparency, minimum level of corruption, competent and efficient public service (op. cit.). These attributes will inform the parameter for determining the roles of civil society in good governance in this research.

The Inter-face between Civil Society and Good Governance.

It is also obvious from the discourse above, that the notions of civil society and good governance are closely linked. The two concepts share many distinct positive attributes necessary for achieving poverty reduction, sustainable development and economic stability and they are perceived as proffering solutions to most of the world’s problems, irrespective of whether they are local, regional or global(Roy 2008). However, Pelizzo (2011) contends that civil societies can become catalysts for the entrenchment of good governance only and when they make a demand on the political class to check and improve on the quality of governance. Uphoff (1986) also argues that civil socities are able to achieve greater level of development when they are independent from bureaucratic controls.

The Roles of Civil Society in Governance.

Civil societies play very important roles in governance. In the first instance, as advocates of the good society, they help to promote democratic principles and defend democratically elected governments. Secondly, they act as watchdogs to ensure prudent and efficient use of national resources. Lastly, they help to create public awareness on issues relating to good governance and develop a well- informed society. Dewey (1916) argues that the symbol of a good democracy is its ability to develop a well- informed society. Civil societies must be financially, politically and legally independent from government in order for them to effectively fulfil these roles. To succeed, they will also require the support of the political class, other arms of government and institutional pillars such as; anti -corruption bodies, directors of public prosecution, human rights bodies (TI Sourcebook, 2000).

South Africa – A Brief Description.

South Africa as nation was for several years traumatized because of the struggle to overthrow the apartheid regime. However, in 1994, Nelson Mandela became the first president of post -apartheid South Africa, a National Unity Government was established comprising of the country’s majority party; the African National Congress (ANC), the National Party and the Freedom Party. The government’s major challenge was to rebuild the nation which had become politically, socially and economically devastated by so many years of conflict under the apartheid regime. The government immediately set up a Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP), to address the issues of social inequalities, social injustice, infrastructural deficit, extreme poverty, massive unemployment deep seated insecurity and myriads of other socio- economic consequences of the years of the oppressive rule.

Under the RDP, the government designed a well -coordinated and sustainable programme to be executed with the cooperation of the different arms of government, together with civil society organisations and the private sector. The objective was to rebuild the nation within a peaceful and stable environment, characterised by sustainable development and economic growth. The political climate in South Africa changed significantly; the country attempted to embrace some of the neo- liberal economic policies of the West to come up with its own unique system which Andreason (2006) refers to as ‘predatory liberalism’. In this model, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) adopted a strategy that enabled it to consolidate economic power in itself and effectively ward off opposition.

It is pertinent to state that there is a belief in some quarters that the anti – apartheid struggle was inspired by civil society organisations. This notion cannot be correct in view of the earlier claim that democracy and civil society are intimate bedfellows. The struggle that brought about the fall of apartheid in South Africa can best be described as resistance against racial oligarchy.

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Civil Society Organisations and Their Impact on Good Governance in South Africa

The post- apartheid government between 1994 and early 2000, attempted to run an open system which enabled civil society organizations to participate in decision making. Friedman and Kihato (2004) assert that the government created a formal avenue for all citizens to participate in policy making, their criticism however was that organizations were not given equal opportunities for participation.

It appeared that government concern was to remain in control. Friedman and Kihato observe that the government seemingly acceptance of civil society was a façade to silence them by integrating them into formal state structure like the National Economic Development Council. Fioramonti (2005) reports that though there were many civil society organizations covering a wide range of developmental objectives; their impact could not be felt because government had withdrawn much of its financial support and many of their leaders had taken up political appointments. This emphasises the importance of political and financial autonomy from the state if civil society organizations are to effectively play their roles.

The post- apartheid government of the ANC failed to deliver on its national economic plan of 1996 and there was little or no demand by the civil society organizations on government to give an account of its stewardship. Habib and Kotze observe that the government adopted a centralist approach and other developmental partners were completely alienated from the policy decision making process.

As the economic crises deepened in South Africa, the ruling party abdicated from providing goods of public value to the citizenry, some interest groups attempted to fill the vacuum left by government. They established crises committees in rural areas to challenge some of the state policies which they considered oppressive and designed to further pauperize the citizenry. The relationship between the government and the civil society organizations became more tensed. Fioramonti (op. cit.) reports that in 1997, Nelson Mandela criticized civil society organizations for not been democratically accountable and also accused them of being agents “in the service of foreign donors” Huxtable, Smith and Villalon (2005) further report that former President Mbeki in the bid to discredit foreign- based NGOs severally accused them of not being accountable and wanting to control home- based civil society organizations. Fioramonti (op. cit.) concludes that the division that developed within the civil society organisations in South Africa coupled with fierce state opposition made it difficult for them to engage with government on issues of national development.

Post- apartheid South Africa has undergone a period of progressive political stability between 1994 and 2007 which led to the establishment of structures for the consolidation of its fledgling democracy. The civil society organisations have also grown in number and influence. Thomas(2004) adduces that the increasing independence of these organisations from the apron of the state together with the influence of neo- liberal economies have helped to build a strong democratic structure for the state.

Since the inception of the Jacob Zuma’s administration in 2009, civil society organisations have made a lot of impact at national, provincial and local government levels. For example, a coalition of civil society organisations namely; the AIDS Consortium, the AIDS Law Project, the National Association of People Living with Aids and Treatment Action Campaign influenced a change in government’s policy on HIV and AIDS (Johnson 2006).

Friedman and Mckaiser note that focussed civil society organisations with predominant black membership have not allowed racial sentiments prevent them from challenging government on any policy which is not deemed to be in the interest of the masses, in spite of the overwhelming black support for the current administration. This non- racial posture of some of these organisations have ensured a more responsive democracy and by implication good governance, in that the interest of the society takes precedence over every other consideration.

However, civil society organisations in South Africa have been criticised for not representing the poor adequately. The vulnerable groups such as the unemployed, workers in the informal sector and casual workers have no avenue for informed representation in governance. The lack of adequate representation of this group in policy decision making has made it difficult for government to effectively address the issue of poverty reduction. There is glaring evidence that government has not been able to align itself with the aspiration of the poor. For example, Friedman and Mckaiser allege that the Centre for Policy Studies reported that in the early 1990s, government devoted a lot of energy to formulate policies that will extend housing mortgage to the poor in spite of clear evidence that the poor were not interested in mortgage facilities.

The lack of identity with the grassroots has some negative implications for the civil society organisations. First, the gap has prevented them from building a relationship of trust amongst the ordinary people, to enable the civil society organisations garner support to challenge government’s policies which are deemed to be anti – people. Friedman and Mckaiser argue that there is a belief amongst South African grassroots that civil society organisations are elitists and many are sceptical about their motives for organizing pro- poor campaign. Secondly, the void in relationship has prevented them from building a well -informed society which can engage government on issues of national developments. For example, it is reported that many poor communities in South Africa erroneously belief that private companies and not government provide potable water and as such are responsible for their inability to access water.

On the other hand, some evidence exists to show that civil society organisations actually identify with the plight of the poor. For example, between 1990 and 2009, civil society organisations like COSATU and its allies made some efforts to address the issue of poverty reduction through Basic Income Grant Campaign (Friedman and Mckaiser). The problem however appears to be that their inability to embed themselves amongst the grassroots, have prevented them from fully appreciating the struggles of the poor and from effectively representing the poor.

Another handicap to some civil society organisations’ role in good governance in South Africa is in the area of political affiliation to the ruling party. For example, COSATU which is deemed to be the largest civil society organisation in South Africa is an ally of the ANC. COSATU is seen as been reluctant to form a coalition with other civil society organisations on issues which might appear to be critical of the ruling ANC government, even when they are in the best interest of the masses. It is alleged that COSATU tend to highlight the government’s achievements, while keeping mute in the areas of its failures (Friedman and Mckaiser). Again this point underscores the importance of political autonomy by civil society organisations if they are to play their roles as watchdogs effectively.

Civil society organisations in South Africa have recorded some degree of success in the area of influencing government’s policy on women liberation. Tripp (2001) argues that political changes in the early 1990s coupled with campaigns by civil society organisation transformed the face of women’s activism in Africa. According to her, the development opened the door for women to be engaged in civic education, leadership training and run for political office. The most outstanding example in South Africa is Winnie Mandela, former wife of ex- president Nelson Mandela who contested for office under the ANC in year 2009.


Flowing from the above, civil society organizations have had a positive impact in ensuring good governance in some aspects in South Africa, but in others, they have not done so well. Several reasons are responsible for their limited impact. First, their inabilities to disentangle themselves politically and financially from the ruling ANC party have led to some compromise. For example, COSATU has failed to engage the ANC government on issues that would project it as being disloyal to its close ally (the ANC), even when those issues might be in the interest of the society at large. Second, their inabilities to deepen their roots amongst the poor and effectively represent the grassroots in national debates constitute an obstacle. Third, their disposition to devote much of their energy / resources only to pursue individual concerns / interests, while neglecting to uphold civil liberties, democratic principles and structures poses a threat to their very survival.

If civil society organisations are to effectively play their roles in securing good governance in South Africa, they need to severe close ties with the ruling party, source for foreign donor institutions for financial support and re -strategize domestically to have a strong home support to be able to uphold democratic principles, defend the rights of the people and make government accountable to the people.


section will examine some criticism/challenges on implementation of global governance. Finally, the author will draw a conclusion based on review findings.

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The concept of global governance has become a controversial idea in academic and international world today. For the last two decades the notion was mainly focus on political theory overview, however, the meaning has become broader and it includes further disciplines. Pattberg and Dingwerth (2006:188) accept that, ‘the meaning of global governance stems mainly from the fact that the concept is evoked not only where governance in the sense in which it has been introduced in political theory is at issue, but also in a variety of further contexts’. In this regards, it evaluates that the idea of global governance it relevant link with highly political processes, focused on accountability, legitimacy authority, democracy, though which increasing of market liberalisation and poverty reduction programmes can be addressed as global issue.

In addition Pattberg and Dingwerth (2006:187) state that, ‘global governance perspective can be defined in two major part namely normative and analytical uses. Normative use, is explained as political programme, global governance is not so much an empirical or analytical term as it is political concept that capture a vision of how societies should address the most pressing global problem’. The above definition emphasise that, global governance as political programme does not provide the consideration on the different extending problem it focus on political struggle, social transformation, democracy, power and rule of law. ‘At this point in time global governance is still more vision than description of actual state of the international state’ (ibid.2006:194).

On the other hand, analytical uses (observable phenomenon) level of implementation and pursuit of goals is very crucial for the process of global governance, ‘Global governance is conceived to include system of rule at all levels of human activity from the family to the international organisation’. (ibid.2006:189) In generally, this perspective insists that, the level of implementation of global governance is very essential and can be determined from family to international level. Hence, the term global does not directly mean only global in nature, but also the need to emphasize solving problems in state, regional and international levels is very necessary.

In generally, Global governance is understood as the way of solving globally problems. Most literatures describe this concept as a process of finding the solution to existing problems globally. Whitman (2009:8) argues that, global governance suffices to outline the scope of global governance as an activity: ‘Efforts to bring more orderly and reliability to social and political issues that are beyond the capacity of states to address individually. The above definition it evaluates that, the notion of global governance is an instrument or tools which is based on facing of emerging global problems, hence individual states may not alone solve the existing or emerging humanitarian and political problems.

Different with above scholars, many writes explain that, global governance is a process which is less integrated with global solution. Murphy. (2000: 791) accepts that, ‘global governance widely accepted, instance of the moral insufficiency of contemporary global governance’. This situation evaluate that, global governance demonstrating that, the process is insufficient to provide global solution due to exiting international institutional fail to take an immediate responds on humanitarian crisis. Example the 1994 Rwanda genocide, UN had enforced the Tusi military stopped massacre at early stage.

Furthermore, global governance has less correlation with globalisation process, hence; it has extended the gap on democratic procedure and economic interactions and balance of power between poor and rich countries. Murphy. (2000:791). ‘global-level governance is less concerned with globalisation’s undermining of substantive democracy and more concerned with the consequences of an unregulated world’. Therefore, it analysis that, the process of globalisation is undermine democratic procedure at national level at same time global governance is not effective in address national level issue.

In my view, I agree with Halabi’s view (2004:23) that ‘global governance is an attempt to manipulate the forces of globalisation, mitigate globalisation’s negative effects’ due to globalisation is the is an exogenously given factor that does not automatically lead to global governance in the same way that anarchy in the international system does not necessary lead to cooperation among state.(ibid; 23).Therefore the existing globally problem namely, international crime, and environmental changes, HIV/Aids and adaptive mutation, international migrations, all these problems requires global rules and global actors. Hence the successful of this process needs correlation from different actors. Whitman (2009:12) accepts that, ‘different actors states most prominently; international law and organisation; regional organisations; the scientific and medical communities; and non-governmental and commercial organisation’. Conversely, people’s participation from different levels is very is very crucial in order to solve social, economic and political problem, in pursuing globally development.

Why the need for Global Governance:

As it mentioned above the meaning of global governance has become broader. Global governance can accelerates the pace of process of globalisation by using international institutions link with social economic and political field. Halabi (2004:24) agreed that, ‘global governance is an attempt to administer globalization and resolve dispute between states so that developing as well as developed countries can purse wealth under constructed structure of their own choice’. In this regards, it is argue that, the existing internationally problems needs globally interferences rather than individual state action, in different level Individual states can empower the international actors to address the existing challenges. Indeed, Whitman (2009:1) accepts that ‘HIV/AIDS pandemic; climate change; criminal and terrorist network and nuclear weapons these are regarding as global crises which require global attention rather individual states.

Since 1980s the concept of global environmental and climate changes is considered as one among the policy of global governance, due to its effects and challenges resulting from on it. In addition Halabi (2004:24) argue that, ‘environmental changes such as global warming have occurred as a result of excessive utilization of resources and pollution’. In this regards, global environmental change has been the result of technological and industrial developments which poses threat to leaves world. In other words, the effects of climate change is increasing the destruction of productive area, and causing and hazards around the world by increasing carbon dioxide, emission of sea production and other natural resources.

As a tool and instrument, global governance it enhances representativeness of political processes, regulations and accountability by different actors like UN (United Nations) Human Right Institutions, ICC (international Court of Criminal) Security Council and civil society by monitoring and evaluating international security, and fighting different crimes international crime such as terrorism , and development nuclear weapons and sale of small arms which have led to increased is conflicts, genocide and other effects in different part of the world. As Mehta(2007:01) point out, ‘the world security situation is more dangerous now that during the cold war, there are continuous violence in Iraq, and Afghanistan, tension of looming attack on Iran and terrorist organisation acquiring nuclear weapons’. In other word, without security council and UN to impose global rule which will governed and save the people especially vulnerable and innocent and group including women and children. Consequently, will be devastating also both developing and developed countries continue to spend more budgets in military rather then in social and development programmes which has negative consequences in society. Global Governance is needed to reverse these trends.

Many writers have argued that global trade is one area in which a global solution is needed. At currently, the main regulator of international trade World Trade Organisation (WTO). However, this institution is being criticized for favouring the developed world and rather discriminating against developing countries in terms of its policies and practices such as subsidies and fair trade in the global market. Whitman(2009:2) notes that, ‘global trade is regulated by international and agreements, most notably the WTO, these regulations are problematic in practical ways and are a certainly highly contentious in political terms, but trade is a dynamic features of way of life, not problem that can be solved’. As a matter of fact, there is a big gap between developing countries and industrial countries which constrains trade between them. Developing countries are still facing implementation problems of the regulations including high tariffs, productivity, and production function and income distribution.

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This essay has assessed the need for global governance to find out why should now we speak of global solution in international political economy field. Global governance as process linking with globalisation, it speed up solving globally problem, international regulation of laws and enhance development around the world, It is still is debatable process, relation of development particular in developing countries

However, it is still is a debatable process, particularly in relation to development in developing countries. There are different challenges which are facing the process and practice of global governance. These challenges are:

Firstly, the main challenge is domination of actors in implementation of this process. It is still confusing and it is believed that, the concept global means only dominants of powerful actors like G8 and G20. According to Mehta, (2007:4), ‘the G8 (France, United Kingdom, Germany, USA, Japan, Italy, Canada and Russian), initially concentrating on economic matters are now in a sense representative of world community, and yet playing a powerful role in guiding the response to international challenges. This indicates that, in economic point of view, G8 as the powerful act as one institution regulates and guide world economic procedures. Hence the correlation between global governance and the poor and rich countries is to large extent, less comprehensible due to existing hierarchy of dominant and subordinate states.

On the hand, the existence of unilateral power is one among the constraints for implementing global governance. The question is ‘global governance, of, by and for whom?’ Whitman, (2009; 1). The unilateral mode is being led by powerful States only Besides including Security Council solution. Mehta (2007:3) state that, ‘The US, under the guise of finding weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq, led a unilateral invasion on the country without an explicit security Council authority’


To sum up, this paper has argued that, there is the need for global solution as perspective of international relation discipline, from a certain point of view, the existing situation of the global solving problem it remain is unsatisfactory to provide the clear picture of the meaning of global governance. Hence there is further need for international agencies and individual states to take purposeful actions to generate responsiveness on informing the meaning of global governance and how it can be implemented. Not only that changing of mind of people, states, civil societies and other actors about the fact that existing international problems can only be solved by global institutions it is also important to recognise that no individual or state can solve its problems entirely without interaction between different partners.

Also, the essay has established that the practice of the processes of global governance today has biases between the dominant and subordinate states in different areas such as international trade, security, and finance, and democracy; hence the urgent need for all actors to work together in order to reduce challenges which hinder implementation of global governance processes.

Furthermore, there is the need to the global community to minimize if not completely subdue unilateral rule in the implementation of global governance, processes since this rather creates physical and structural violence resulting in negative effects on vulnerable groups, including women and children.

Finally, there is the urgent tasks of international agencies including ILO, World Bank, IMF, WTO, UN, civil societies, and individual states to work in a coordinated manner to help developing countries meet all the MDG’s goals and ensure peace, protection for human rights and reduction of climate change impacts at national, regional and international levels Global governance thus have an important role in ensuring this happen in addition to creating a

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