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2003 G8 Pre-Summit Conference

Governing Globalization:
G8, Public and Corporate Governance

Tuesday, May 27, 2003
INSEAD, Fontainebleau, France

Hosted by the Research Group on Global Financial Governance, the Guido Carli Association, the G8 Research Group, the EnviReform Project, INSEAD, the Club of Athens-Global Governance Group, le Comité pour un Parlement Mondial, Futuribles and the Académie de la Paix

  > > Register > > Program > > Speaker Biographies > > Papers

Dangerous Currents: The Global Order in 2003
Kimon Valaskakis, Club of Athens, Global Governance Group

In 2003, Planet Earth is navigating in dangerous currents. Its principal modus operandi, so to speak, known as the Sovereignty System was designed in 1648 at the Treaty of Westphalia which put an end to the European Thirty Years War. The Westphalian World Order considers national sovereignty as the ultimate legal power on Earth against which there is no possible appeal. An act of sovereignty is by definition final. The present Westphalian World Order purports to manage the planet by juxtaposing the authority of close to 200 sovereign countries of which 191 are members of the United Nations. These countries may sign treaties, delegate part of the power, retrieve that delegated power by withdrawing from treaties, but in the end, in a legal sense they never relinquish it.

Valaskakis claims that, in the second half of the twentieth century. the Sovereignty System has been repeatedly battered and is close to final collapse. The slow downfall has occurred by virtue of what he calls A Tidal Wave and Three Earthquakes.

The ‘Tidal Wave’ refers to the process of globalisation itself which, in the process of creating a world without borders has also created a world without rules. Mounting interdependence has made the governance of globalisation under Westphalian conditions, extremely difficult.

The ‘First Earthquake’ was September 11th, changing all the rules of security and introducing, in a dramatic way, the new reality of asymmetrical warfare : (1) a superpower vulnerable to the actions of 19 determined hijackers armed with box knives who can wreack enormous havoc in the heartland. (2) The temptation by that superpower to take preemptive action against potential terrorists without respecting the principle of national sovereignty.

The Second Earthquake was the crisis in Corporate Governance, in turn dramatised by the Enron, Worldcomm and other scandals. What that crisis showed is that under conditions of globalisation, national regulation of corporate behaviour is ineffective because the latter, with great transnational mobility, can use competing jurisdictions to evade rules, avoid taxes and use accounting practices, creatively and opportunistically, without necessarily breaking any laws. Although not yet fully recognized as an ‘earthquake’ of the caliber of 911, the issue of Corporate Governance lies at the heart of the challenge of managing globalisation. It is the author’s opinion that without global rules of corporate governance more excesses are likely.

The Third Earthquake has been triggered by the Iraq Crisis and its long-term historical meaning. In that context, the principle of sovereignty with its corollary of non-intervention in the internal affairs of a sovereign state has been shaterred. In 2002 and 2003, the world community seems to have accepted the idea that Iraq had to be disciplined via a peremptory external intervention in its affairs. However the two questions which did not meet with a consensus, were (1) ‘who is allowed to intervene’ and (2) on what basis is that intervention allowable. Proponents of the primacy of the United Nations claimed that only that body has the right to intervene and only according to the principles invoked in its charter. The advocates of the Anglo-American intervention claimed a variety of reasons to intervene even without UN approval. In particular ‘regime change’ and the imposition of democracy, have been advanced as legitimate reasons for the use of force, in spite of the fact that nowhere in the international system of agreements signed by sovereign countries has either regime change or the forceful imposition of democracy been recognized as a valid cause for intervention. In the absence of clear and recognized rules, opportunistic interventions, not just by the United States but by regional superpowers are likely further destabilizing the world order.

In the meantime, lesser but potentially equally signficant destabilising events for the Westphalian World Order have occured. The non-intervention by the World Community in the ongoing civil war in the Congo, which has caused hundreds of thousands of deaths over the last few years could be counted as a sin of omission by the pro-interventionists. Similarly, the mishandling of the SARS epidemic by China, a sovereign country, has emphasized the dangerous interdependency of the world and the need for concerted actions even against epidemics. Reliance on national sovereignty may not be enough.

Othere events such as the non ratification by the United States a number of world treaties attempting to reinforce the multilateral system has furthered weakened the existing World Order. In that group, are included the rejection by the US of the Kyoto Protocol, the International Criminal Court, the Land Mines Treaty etc.

The upshot of the `Tidal Wave and the Three Earthquakes’ (as counted at time of writing, there may be more later ! ) is that we may need a fundamentally new operating system for the governance of Planet Earth, a sort of WESTPHALIA II, involving a major udpdate of the sovereignty system to put in more in tune with 21st realities.

The Global Governance Group — Club of Athens Initiatitive proposed by the author, outlines a process designed to arrive at a better world order through analysis and discussion between key players. It suggests the creation of a three interlocking units

The Triple-G Initiative is one of many similar initiatives but it is an example of a feasible process whose ultimate objective is to act as pre-negotiating forum leading to ultimate improvements in the world system.

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