Three years ago in Berlin, the International Institute of Administrative Sciences (IIAS) celebrated its 75th anniversary. On that auspicious occasion, it also presented the volume which truly presaged our own. Entitled “The World We Could Win: Administering Global Governance”
Edited by Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi.
Edited by Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi.
Both crises in different ways, tested the will and capacity of global civil society and the organised community of nation states, still in a formative stage of their development. The sudden surge of “we-ness”, “widespread across time-zones” (G. Fraser-Moleketi 2005:vii), which the tsunami occasioned, contrasted very sharply with the challenge to legality and the global rule of law, which an act in violation of explicit treaty provisions so clearly represented. However, both events brought into sharp relief one of the principal facets of what the world community has by now come to expect of those who are entrusted with the responsibilities of “administering global governance”. We like to call it “reactive”; but a response to mega-crises and calamities on such a scale calls for advanced preparedness and functional systems in place, as well as skills, resources and expertise which, very few countries possess. The sharing of capacity and pooling of resources are clearly a prerequisite of effective global responses.
It is hardly a happenchance that reaction to the horrors of armed conflict, and the need to succour its victims occasioned the beginnings of humanitarian aid on a transnational scale and this, in turn, the birth of truly international organisations. The International Committee of the Red Cross is one of the earliest examples of institution-building on the international level (T.G. Weiss & L. Gordenker 1996). The pattern, which it set, was soon followed at such frequency that the concluding decades of the nineteenth century were subsequently credited with the creation and growth of “international unions” (G. Langrod 1963:31). The Universal Postal Union (1874), the International Telecommunications Union and the International Union for Protection of Property Rights (1883) trace their sources to this period. What they set out to accomplish was to move one step beyond a merely ad hoc response to crises as they occurred. Their goal became the establishment and maintenance of frameworks and regimes for cross-border cooperation in specific fields of activity. In an era which saw the emergence and acceleration of globalisation, these “unions” paved the way for closer cross-border exchanges and ease of communication. The need is ever-present accounting for the establishment of international agencies, particularly after the Second World War. However, notwithstanding the phenomenal expansion of institutionalised international activity and transborder cooperation in the past 60 years, it comes as no surprise that resistance to this trend still remains extremely potent. The forces of sectarianism and national exclusiveness, which dominated the scene during the interwar period, causing the rapid decline and ultimate demise of the League of Nations, may have receded somewhat, but have not disappeared. Ever-present in the background, they continue to do battle against the mounting claims of an international order and global public interest. These claims reassert themselves in the measure that civil society world-wide awakes to a consciousness of pressing global challenges and planetary threats.
This Working Group's report begins with an acknowledgement of those demanding challenges. They were defined conclusively by the Millennium Summit in a landmark Declaration which was signed by the vast majority of the world's Heads of State and Government (United Nations 2000). The timely implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) calls for concerted action by Member States and close cooperation both with and in the framework of international agencies. Indeed, it may be affirmed that, in this Declaration, lies an implicit call for arguably a new form of and more proactive approach to global governance issues; one that looks beyond the crises afflicting the bulk of humanity – pressing as these may be – and strategically seeks to charter a course leading to balanced responses and long-term policy options towards a better world for future generations and Planet Earth, their home.
Though the over-riding claims of global common goods have been affirmed emphatically in the course of the recent decades, it would be fair to argue that the primacy of the “global” over rival “national” interests has known a chequered course. In fact, a powerful tension between the claims of “globalism” and those of “isolationism,” has been a constant factor in the dialectical progress of institution-building on the international level. Over the past one century, as we have seen, the forces of exclusiveness – both ethnic and religious – did win the upper hand with calamitous results, over varying periods of time. Even to-day, “my country right or wrong” resonates as a credible slogan in certain parts of the world, vociferously expressed by those who argue against all multilateral stances in the evolving pattern of global governance. The numerous proponents of realpolitik and advocates of unilateralism still exert substantial influence on foreign policy establishments around the world. And still the central governments of Member States remain the pivotal players in all decision making affecting the development of international agencies, both in the UN system and beyond.
Progression has been slow. And yet, in spite of setbacks in recent years especially, it is plausible to argue that gradually the voices lending support to measures global in scope, for the good of the world as a whole, begin to multiply. The Annual IIAS Conference in Berlin set an example, not merely through the Panel which presented “The World We Could Win ,” but also in the form of the keynote address which explored the critical issue of diminishing water resources in light of climate change. The Conference, in fact, has become a global forum to articulate these issues and place them in the limelight. More and more, in other words, a discernible trend is established to explore major issues of policy not from the vantage point of particular national interests, but from now well-accepted regional or globalist perspectives. We need to strengthen this tendency, indeed to encase it firmly in institutional frameworks which lend its outcomes weight, legitimacy, coherence, continuity and effectiveness. Much like its predecessor, which produced “The World We Could Win ”, this Working Group was founded in light of this problématique.
In September 2005, it hardly escaped our notice as we, Conference participants, reflected on the establishment of the IIAS, that the very thought of creating an International Institute of Administrative Sciences, when IIAS was born in 1930, implied some recognition of pubic administration as an autonomous field, amenable to study in a scientific way; open, in other words, to an objective, rigorous, systematic and dispassionate discourse, accross national boundaries. Likewise, it was the outgrowth of a long and chequered progress which changed a band of courtiers and title-holders into the modern profession of government. The slow but steady emergence of public service as a great profession paralleled the transformation of government departments into the self-contained and largely autonomous entities, which act as the repositories of institutional memory, keepers of “official thought” and nurseries of policies. It was a gradual process which nurtured and gave prominence to such important concepts as “independent influence ”, “objective and balanced advice” and “neutral competence” in the context of “good governance ”. Such marks of our profession took shape fully within the boundaries of nation states, as part of the construction of the administrative state and the état de droit.
We seem to be in the presence of a similar trend-in-the-making. It reflects an incipient need for an objective, thorough, professional and independent transborder treatment of problems, which are global in scope and, if not properly addressed, may carry calamitous risks for all life on Planet Earth and the future of humanity. Needless to emphasise that climate change is certainly of this nature. However, there are obviously many more of these problems, suggesting a pressing requirement for a more systematic, institutional approach to global problem-solving than has so far been evident. We badly need the know-how and expertise, but also a disposition for globalist approaches and globalist solutions to truly global problems. This, only a corps of people duly selected, trained and fully dedicated to the service of humanity and the global public interest can offer. The gravity of the challenges confronting us today demands the service of people who, to paraphrase President J.F. Kennedy, will “ask not what the world can do for them, but what they can offer the world.”
It is this sense of urgency that prompted the creation of our Working Group. Its report represents the outcome of long deliberations and systematic exchanges among the several members of a truly global team. It reflects a diversity of viewpoints and makes no claim to finality. However, it represents an effort to carry the debate, which started with the establishment of the IIAS, or arguably much earlier, one step further, onto the planetary level. It begins with an acknowledgement of the overarching role of the Human Factor in global governance and the critical importance of public service professionalism. It is hopefully only the first and one of many phases in the long, arduous process and worldwide debate, which are needed to elevate public service professionalism to a higher, global level.
 Fraser-Moleketi, G. (2005) The World We Could Win: Administering Global Governance, Amsterdam, IOS Press
 Langrod, G. (1963) La Fonction Publique Internationale, Leyden, A.W. Sythoff
 Weiss, T.G. & L. Gordenker (Eds) (1996) NGOs, The UN & Global Governance, London, Lynne Rienner Pub.
 United Nations (2000) A/RES/55/2/8.9.2000