Imagining UN's evolution, global governance specialists collaborate

August 14, 2018
The proposal describes a stronger international governing body, based on the United Nations. (Photo by Basil D Soufi, accessed through Wikimedia Commons)

STOCKHOLM — As the world grows more interconnected and as the imperative to unite humanity becomes ever more strongly felt, systems of global governance need to evolve. This idea is at the core of an award-winning proposal to reshape global governance, put forward by three Baha’is who specialize in aspects of governance in international affairs.

“Many of the problems we face are global in nature. They cannot be solved without some kind of stronger mechanism of international cooperation,” says Augusto Lopez-Claros, an international economist and co-author of the proposal.

The United Nations provides a foundation for global governance, but the proposal makes a case for a stronger international governing body. The proposal outlines a mechanism with two legislative bodies: one with national representatives and the second with delegates who represent particular global issues, such as the environment, human rights, and others. It would also include a strengthened executive branch with an international security force, as well as a well-trained international judiciary that regularly makes binding decisions.

This graphic, created by the proposal's authors, gives an overview of the system of global governance that Arthur Dahl, Maja Groff, and Augusto Lopez-Claros put forth. Slideshow
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This graphic, created by the proposal's authors, gives an overview of the system of global governance that Arthur Dahl, Maja Groff, and Augusto Lopez-Claros put forth.

The proposal was one of three winners of the New Shape Prize in May from the Global Challenges Foundation, a non-profit organization that aims to stimulate discussions on systems for managing global risks.

Dr. Lopez-Claros, former Director of Global Indicators Group at the World Bank Group and currently a senior fellow at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, collaborated with Maja Groff, an international lawyer based in The Hague, Netherlands, and Arthur Dahl, a former senior official with the U.N. Environment Programme and current President of the International Environment Forum, on the proposal to reform the U.N. and other global institutions. Titled “Global Governance and the Emergence of Global Institutions for the 21st Century,” the proposal highlights the need for a system of global governance capable of effectively addressing the major contemporary challenges facing humanity.

“The principles and various aspects of our proposal draw upon the wisdom of multiple generations and thinkers from a variety of backgrounds,” says Ms. Groff, who works with the Hague Conference on Private International Law. “We hope to engage with the common aspirations of humanity.”

Dr. Dahl noted that the past decades have exposed the limitations of the U.N. system to solve issues that cross national boundaries, a challenge that requires new thinking about the U.N., its further evolution, and its mandate. “A range of inherently global crises cannot be solved outside the framework of global collective action involving supranational cooperation and a fundamental rethinking of the meaning of ‘national interest,’” the paper describes.

For the three authors, this means it is necessary to build upon structures that exist in the U.N.

“Taken together, our proposals would ensure that the U.N. moves as soon as possible to a model of coherent governance, analogous to what we expect from effective national government systems with capacities for ongoing monitoring and rapid response to current and emerging global risks,” Ms. Groff explained.