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6. Can globalization be controlled?

The issue of controlling or regulating globalization concerns elite officials of states and intergovernmental organizations as well as opponents of neoliberalism in pursuit of global justice. They often share a sense that the current thrust of globalization may be irreversible and out of anyone's control. They have several good reasons to think so:

  • one of globalization's driving forces, technological innovation, is inherently unpredictable
  • globalization results from the interplay of many parties (economic and political), none of which exerts dominant influence
  • old regulatory agencies devised by states cannot control processes that exceed their territorial authority
  • apart from minimal rules of competition itself, the world lacks a single set of rules that serves to regulate transnational behavior

This concern has given rise to a now-fashionable interest in "global governance," or the design of institutions that authoritatively manage and regulate actions, processes, and problems of global scope or effect. While some believe such governance is desirable but lacking, others think it is in fact emerging in the work of various international organizations and groups active in civil society. Though advocates of global governance portray it as enhancing democracy, defenders of traditional democratic values and state interests have questioned such claims.

Altered States

Book on globalization, sovereignty, and governance by Gordon Smith and Moisés Naím, prepared for 2000 Millennium Assembly, discusses governing capacity of states, global democratization, and need for new governance to realize potential of globalization

Commission on Global Governance

UN-supported commission of 28 leaders produced influential 1995 report "Our Global Neighbourhood" and 1999 report "The Millennium Year and the Reform Process"; proposes to strengthen global governance without creating world government, while respecting the "rights of people and the role of civil society"


Murchison Chair of Free Enterprise site offers skeptical analysis of global governance proposals and Commission work as inimical to American notions of liberty

Global Governance

Academic journal of multilateralism and international organizations offers tables of contents, article abstracts, and links


Institute for Development and Peace (Germany) offers definitions (drawn from bibliographic work on global governance by H. Mürle) and an overview of debates and tasks


Center for the Study of Global Governance at London School of Economics offers some online resources

Millennium Summit

Materials related to Millennium Summit (September 2000) of the UN, held in conjunction with Millennium Assembly and preceded by civil society Millennium gathering (May 2000), focused on UN's role in world affairs; Secretary-General's report has section on globalization and governance, calls for accountability, multilateralism, and strong legal order


Article by Joseph Nye (Harvard) on "Globalization's Democratic Deficit: How to Make International Institutions More Accountable" calls for institutional transparency but stresses role of domestic state institutions; argument drawn from book edited by Nye and John Donahue on Governance in a Globalizing World


Development and Peace Foundation (Germany) offers papers and symposium materials on policy responses to globalization (many in English)

Stanley Foundation

Conference reports on mostly international governance issues from foundation advocating peace, freedom and justice on the basis of world citizenship and global governance

World Federalist Movement

International organization advocating world government based on law and democratic institutions; offers overview of issues and programs

(back to the top)


  1. What is globalization?
  2. How does globalization affect women?
  3. Does globalization cause poverty?
  4. Why are so many people opposed to globalization?
  5. Does globalization diminish cultural diversity?
  6. Can globalization be controlled?



Copyright 2000-2001 - Frank Lechner