Saturday, March 23, 2013

Global citizens and local problems

Dani Rodrik has often argued against the dominance of global institutions on national sovereignty. His book Globalization Paradox epitomized the tensions between national sovereignty, democracy and autonomy in decision making. His recent piece titled "National Government, Global Citizens" highlighted the dichotomy of globalization and domestic political sovereignty.
"Nothing endangers globalization more than the yawning governance gap – the dangerous disparity between the national scope of political accountability and the global nature of markets for goods, capital, and many services – that has opened up in recent decades. When markets transcend national regulation, as with today’s globalization of finance, market failure, instability, and crisis is the result. But pushing rule-making onto supranational bureaucracies, such as the World Trade Organization or the European Commission, can result in a democratic deficit and a loss of legitimacy."
The piece highlighted a trend, albeit minimal, of the rise of "global citizens" pressurizing their national governments to be more accountable. Can global governance be achieved by the enhanced role of global citizens? Citizens today, especially in the developing world are more concerned with issues of local governance and livelihood. Do issues of international law, global governance matter to them at all? Isn't it more pragmatic to look at global governance and accountability through national political representation? If a national government's position in the international sphere is guided and accountable to representational government at the national level (howsoever weak that is) is that not a desirable step? More than being desirable, is it not achievable?

Pascal Lamy speaking recently highlighted the need for more discussion of international issues in the domestic arena.
"The final principle that I would put to you is that since the political “demos” remains essentially national, legitimacy would be greatly enhanced ifinternational issues were to become a larger part of the domestic political debate. The exercise of democracy today needs an international dimension. The fact that citizens elect the governments that represent them in global institutions is not itself sufficient to ensure the legitimacy of international organizations. The fact that in an organization such as the World Trade Organization, decisions are taken by consensus, and are based on one-country one-vote, may not be enough to ensure its legitimacy in the eyes of our global citizenry. More is required. National actors — political parties, parliaments, civil society, trade unions, and citizens — need to ensure that the issues discussed and decided at the “global level” are carefully explored, first, at the “domestic level.”
Is this more feasible? 


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