This chapter sets the scene for a detailed exploration of the human factor in global governance, both in theory and in practice. While emerging systems or patterns of global governance are open to a variety of interpretations and possible descriptions, two prominent features are singled out in this chapter for particular attention. The first concerns the nature and scope of global governance and what may be described as global public goods. The second is the issue of power and power relationships, which are of immediate significance to the various forms of global collective action. These features constitute the functional and institutional foundations on which the human factor can be addressed. They influence, if not determine, the prospects for global governance in the foreseeable future. They pose challenges for those involved in the sectors and structures within or through which collective action can be fostered and maintained on a global scale. Too often, the existing literature gives scant attention ‘to the actors and mechanisms behind the exercise of power outside the compass of States’. In response to this condition, the calls for democratisation and accountability of global governance need to be linked to a ‘detailed consideration of governance mechanisms’ (Whitman 2002:47), including the extent to which they are appropriately geared to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
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