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The Human Nature Review Human Nature Review  2003 Volume 3: 307-308 ( 16 May )
URL of this document http://human-nature.com/nibbs/03/global.html

Book Review

Enhancing Global Governance: Towards A New Diplomacy
edited by Andrew F. Cooper, John English and Ramesh Thakur 
Tokyo, New York, & Paris: United Nations Press, 2002. Pp. xi + 308.

Reviewed by Kofi Ankomah, Ph.D., 144 Freetown Avenue, (La-Bawaleshie Road), P. O. Box 9395, Airport, Accra, Ghana, West Africa.

In spite of global interdependence, countries with power and resources are pursuing unilateral foreign policy that is resulting in the increased risk of armed terrorism; many states today also have to contend with eco- and cyber- terrorism and other cross border phenomena. Humanity is confronted with atrocities of unimaginable scale. In addition, there are growing rifts between Europe and her traditional friends - America and the United Kingdom - a result of unilateralism within the global multilateral architecture. Partnerships between different actors are critical to confront the emerging new imperialist and mercantilist tendencies projected by the rich and powerful nations that seek to dominate global transactions. For a peaceful world that promotes international democracy, the locus of power and influence needs shifting. We need to build local capacity to enable people at the grassroots to cope with problems emerging from globalization - globalization need not obliterate localization. The responsibility to protect international peace and human development to achieve a better life in a safer world should be promoted to a higher international policy-making stage to incorporate both private and public non-state actors, as they jostle alongside national governments in setting and implementing the agenda of the new century. Genuine multilateralism and trade, which promote fair trade and aid, should supercede the dominant protectionism and unilateralism to lessen the rising levels of global insecurity and uncertainty. Vanishing national borders necessitate enhanced global governance to ensure healthful and sane humans, worldwide.

Enhancing Global Governance: Towards a New Diplomacy edited by Andrew F. Cooper, John English and Ramesh Thakur, deals with the United Nations and the evolving new diplomacy within it. It discuses the human security agenda: security, development, environment and governance. It examines the shifting diplomacy from armaments to development that is emerging in global institutions. The authors argue that innovative leadership on issues of global governance is possible. They support innovative diplomatic initiatives that have been employed to supplement the system operative at the Security Council of the United Nations - that club of the rich and powerful that has become unrepresentative of the world’s people. They support the “name and shame of offenders” approach to diplomacy to blunt illegitimate actions by the rich and the powerful nations. They further support putting people first and using innovation through improved technology and entrepreneurship to promote peace and tranquility in our world. This incisive and discerning book highlights the shortcomings in the United Nations system in dealing with pressing global problems and explains the innovative approaches that “like-minded” nations and non-governmental organizations are teaming up to enhance global governance.

Enhancing Global Governance: Towards a New Diplomacy is a revised version of transactions of two conferences - one in Canada in September 1999 and the other in Japan in July 2002 that focused on “United Nations and New Diplomacy” and examined the development of the Ottawa Treaty to ban anti-personnel land-mines and the campaign to establish an international criminal court initiated by activist countries such as the Nordic states, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, under the leadership of activists like Robert Fowler of Canada.

Andrew F. Cooper, John English and Ramesh Thakur (the editors) and the 17 contributors in this fifteen chapter book advocate non-traditional diplomatic initiatives/innovations, including consensus on the utility of codes as means of achieving more ethical practices. These initiatives include codes of conduct that focus on soldiers and their behavior towards children in armed conflicts, and International Chambers of Commerce pushing forward agendas of self-regulation and standard setting by businesses in a global compact to provide moral authority. The contributors also urge that more offenders can and should be “named and shamed,” regardless of their military might. They are right in calling for the shift of the locus of power at international institutions from a “might is right” syndrome to decision making by the majority of the people of the world, represented by their governments. The role of the non state actors mingling with states in protecting international peace and promoting human development needs broadening, within the context of the United Nations. Democracy needs to be built on at the local level without deference to the major powers and their desire to make decisions for the rest of the world as to who should rule which country, even if the regimes in question are despotic.

Interconnectedness of problems created by globalization and technology demands partnership of actors not restricted to states alone. Destructive forces of globalization, or what Thakur calls “uncivil society - such as flow of arms, terrorism, disease, prostitution, drug and people smuggling, etc.,” need to be confronted with unconventional tools beyond the traditional big-power manipulations if we are to reinstate hope and idealism in mankind and the United Nations. Human security needs should take precedence over state security needs - as determined by delusional or willfully blind heads of states/governments. Every effort needs to be taken by the people of the world to ensure that the United Nations is strengthened to undertake its mission of protecting international peace and promoting human development in a world of diminishing state frontiers. Enhancing Global Governance: Towards a New Diplomacy is an excellent addition to the literature on globalization and diplomacy.

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© Kofi Ankomah.


Ankomah, K. (2003). Review of Enhancing Global Governance: Towards A New Diplomacy edited by Andrew F. Cooper, John English and Ramesh Thakur. Human Nature Review. 3: 307-308.

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