It is increasingly difficult to escape blame for climate change. Culpability lies in the land we allocate to urban development, in cars we drive, and even in many of the manufactured goods we enjoy. Culpability is also not specific to the developed world. China and India do not trail so far behind the U.S. and the EU in the share of global emissions toxic to the environment. We must recognize that climate change is something to which many-if-not-most people around the globe are contributing. However, as scholars like David Victor have pointed out without tire, universal “solutions” drawn up through the conventional international institutions are unable to provide us with sufficient climate governance. Instead, a looser framework relatively lacking in universality and binding institutions seems more likely to succeed in reducing the risk calculus for world-wide, climate change-induced disaster.
The modern World Health Organization (WHO) faces some immense challenges. Ebola may be what immediately comes to the mind, but response to emergencies and epidemics is by no means old work at this international organization. Rather, Laurie Garrett highlights for us five “existential challenges to global health.” Among these five, three are inextricably tied to financial and structural concern, a swift departure from the notion that Ebola, malaria, HIV/AIDS, and the like are the largest issues begging for WHO solutions. It is the opinion of this author that while it is quite productive to be critical of the implications of governance structure on the success of the organization’s mission, a large sum of the energy vested in that criticism could be better spent furthering the successes of the organization in question. In other words, fretting about the influence of a donor like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on the WHO is not going to solve any of the organization’s immediate problems or even its existential challenges, especially when minimal alternatives have been provided.
For over sixty years now, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has served as a key instrument of the liberal international economic order (LIEO). Free trade, loans to aid development, and the decline of command economies have all been results of this institution—much to the delight of countless actors across the international stage. Yet the past decade has hosted a particularly strong wave of criticism. The 2007-08 financial crisis, as Eric Helleiner shows us, damaged the legitimacy of both IMF policies and leadership. From that time through today, many have insisted that a “new Bretton Woods” occur as to totally begin again in our structuring of global finance. Helleiner and I are, at our cores, opposed to such a move. This is largely because a “new Bretton Woods” is almost impossible, but also because a “new Bretton Woods” seems rather counterintuitive.
This week’s readings have lent themselves—quite well, might I add—to the notion that not much has changed on the international stage in terms of power relations. Granted, many of the more ostentatious trappings of the Cold War are now gone. Our palate of key actors has seen some considerable transformations as well. And many of the issues we now confront are arguably inherent to a world of more globalization, more accessible information, and more powerful non-state actors. Nonetheless, our work this week has strong-armed me into recognizing that international organizations are indeed competing with the age-old politics of balances-of-power. Furthermore, these same international organizations may be proving inflammatory to those politics. Continue reading Nothing New to See Here: Questioning Today’s Major Power Relations –Anthony DeSantis