Global Governance: Reflections on Southern Participation

As I move forward with my PhD research, and dive deep into the literature, I hope to start posting more thoughts and relevant analysis linking academic theories and findings to what we see happening in global food security governance and world food security policy.

I am reading through an academic forum on limitations and blind spots within global governance literature and came across an interesting section related to the engagement and participation of the Global South/ third world. Global governance scholars are quick to suggest that global governance is an inherently Western concept that is difficult to translate out of the English context and for this, and other reasons, the processes which it describes are those developed and favoured by the West, which exclude the South.

While acknowledging the uneven distribution of political influence and the hierarchical and highly unequal nature of the international order, Daniel Compagnon explains that we cannot conclude, after looking at empirical evidence, that the South lacks overall influence on the international system. He points specifically to environmental policy where the south (as the G77) has maintained a united and strong front, and also the power of these countries to do what Miller (1995, 1998) calls “capacity to harm” which Compagnon (in Overbeek et al. 2010: 711) explains as the

negative influence they may have on on regime effectiveness of multilateral environmental agreements by dragging their feet in complying to international norms and regulations — whether it is a deliberate strategy or the consequences of “weak states” failing to deliver suitable national policies.

In his contribution (in Overbeek et al. 2010: 712), he writes:

There is growing participation of South-based social movements in the anti-globalization movement …Because national policies are crucial for the implementation of international environmental regimes and Third World states are usually underperforming in this respect (Hurrell 1995), a governance perspective emphasizing the role of non-state actors is increasingly relevant.

This further supports the inclusion and participation of NGOs and CSOs in the Committee on World Food Security and the Global Agriculture, Food Security Program.

Daniel Compagnon refutes the claim that global governance excludes or ignores the South. He argues that despite structural imbalances in the distribution of power and resources in the global political economy, countries from the South have not lacked influence in transnational politics and argues for more nuanced and fact-based assessments of global governance in the South and the inclusion of these countries in global governance research.

I can’t post the article online for copyright reasons but the citation, for those of you with access to academic journals.

Overbeek, Henk, Dingwerth, Klaus, Pattberg, Philipp; Compagnon, Daniel. 2010. “Forum: Global Governance: Decline or Maturation of an Academic Concept”. In International Studies Review 12:696-719.

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