The Commission on Global Governance

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The Commission - an independent group of 28 public figures - was inspired by the belief that the end of the cold war offered opportunities to build a more co-operative, safer and fairer world.
It presented proposals for improving the world's governance and better managing its affairs in a report published in 1995 - the year the United Nations marked its fiftieth anniversary.

Our Global Neighbourhood
The message of the report was encapsulated in its title: Our Global Neighbourhood. The book-length report was commended by such world figures as Nelson Mandela, Gro Harlem Brundtland and Vaclav Havel. Worldwide interest led to its appearance in 15 languages.
The Commission's two Co-Chairmen were Ingvar Carlsson, former Prime Minister of Sweden, and Shridath (Sonny) Ramphal, former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, from Guyana. Members were drawn from all continents, from north and south, east and west.
In 1999, the Commission issued a further report as the United Nations prepared to hold a Millennium Assembly and Summit in 2000. The Millennium Year and the Reform Process addressed two subjects: involving civil society and improving world economic management.

Reforming the United Nations
The Commission's recommendations centre principally on the United Nations, the only forum in which governments come together regularly to tackle world problems. Our Global Neighbourhood suggests how the UN should be revitalised so it can better respond to the needs of the modern world - a world that has changed in many ways since the UN was formed in 1945.

The report includes proposals to:
  • Reform the Security Council, so that it becomes more representative and maintains its legitimacy and credibility
  • Set up an Economic Security Council to have more effective - and more democratic - oversight of the world economy
  • Establish a United Nations Volunteer Force so that the Security Council can act more quickly in emergencies
  • Vest the custody of the global commons in the Trusteeship Council, which has completed its original work
  • Treat the security of people and of the planet as being as important as the security of states
  • Strengthen the rule of law worldwide
  • Give civil society a greater voice in governance.
  • Explore ways to raise new funds for global purposes, e.g. a tax on foreign currency movements, and charges for using flight lanes, sea-lanes and other common global resources.

Core Values for a Global Neighbourhood
The Commission calls for a global neighbourhood ethic and commitment to core global values that can command respect across frontiers of race and religion. It also makes a plea for enlightened leadership that looks beyond the next election.
The report makes clear that in urging action to improve governance, the Commission is not advocating movement towards world government.

"A Powerful Message"
A commentator* who considered several reports that addressed issues of international reform had this to say:
"Of the dozen studies reviewed here, arguably the most influential and widely read happens to be the most ambitious: the 1995 report, Our Global Neighbourhood, by the Commission on Global Governance….The implementation track record of its proposals …has been mixed ….Yet Our Global Neighbourhood had a powerful message, one that pulled its seemingly disparate parts together and that still animates much of the internationalist literature. It was neither the first nor the last report to stress the need to find better ways of handling transnational problems, but it did an unusually effective job of conceptualising the practice and challenges of global governance…."

Placing Governance on the Agenda
The Commission has helped to place governance on the world's political and intellectual agenda. It has helped to widen the ranks of citizens who want to improve the way the world manages its affairs. Its call for a greater role for civil society has resonated widely. 

The Commission closes its office at the end of June 2001. Its Co-Chairmen, Ingvar Carlsson and Shridath Ramphal, as well as other members, continue to speak and write on issues of international co-operation and global governance, encouraging commitment to our global neighbourhood and efforts to build a fairer, safer world for all its people.

The text of the Commission's report and other documents may be downloaded from this website. Copies of Our Global Neighbourhood, published by Oxford University Press, may be ordered through bookshops, quoting ISBN 0-19-827998-1 (hardback) or 0-19-827997-3 (paperback).

*Edward C Luck, (Director, Center for the Study of International Organization, New York University School of Law and Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University) in "Blue Ribbon Power: Independent Commissions and UN Reform", International Studies Perspectives (2000) 1, 89-104

Last Updated On 22 August  2001


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