Must international bureaucrats and governments be blamed for humanity's current predicament? The question has been raised in recent years insistently, as challenges have mounted calling to question the effectiveness of the international structures and policies in place for the purpose of addressing them. After a hopeful start in 1945 and more than three decades of decolonisation and development, the world experimented with new approaches to governance. Allied to implicit faith in private sector capacity to drive the growth agenda, the concept of the “Shrinking State” emerged as a critical element of the “Washington Consensus” which dominated the scene during the eighties and nineties. Promoted by the Bretton Woods and other key international financial institutions, the new model deflected attention from traditional concerns with public service reform and state capacity-building, calling instead for “outsourcing”, massive privatisation and “at will employment practices” in the public sector. Applied to the international, as well as to the national and the sub-national levels, these glamourised solutions have seldom brought about the hoped-for results. Rather in many cases, have they compounded the problems which they were meant to address. At the dawn of this new century, the Millennium Declaration listed those problems succinctly and introduced a “road map” towards their partial solution by 2015. Half-way towards this target date, the challenges have mounted and new ones have emerged. Climate change, corruption and lawlessness, with poverty and insecurity, now top the list internationally.
With wars and other crises providing a doubtful backdrop, the international community is beginning to revisit the policies and practices that have clearly not availed and to debate alternatives to failed unilateral stances, working towards a pattern of multi-layer synergies in multilateral governance. Crucial to needed success is the role of human resources, which are badly in need of development after a long neglect. In the developing countries, the universally diminished appeal of the public service profession has been compounded by braindrain. Many a national government and international agencies find it hard to attract, retain, develop and motivate capable men and women for the tasks of global governance and socio-economic development. These tasks call for a mix of knowledge, high-level skills, know-how, experience and ethos, which makes up the profile – the human resources, in fact – required for global governance. The primacy of professionalism highlights the need for knowledge, maturity and sophistication over the claims of narrow and not infrequently biased over-specialisation. Integrity is of the essence of public service professionalism and this entails devotion to the long-term common good over particularistic concerns for self or one's own “in-group”. In multi-layer governance, this can best be developed by careers exemplifying mobility, training as life-long learning and exposure to the challenges of programmes and issues touching several countries and/or a diversity of interests.