The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) has launched a comprehensive five-year program on international institutions and global governance. Made possible by a generous grant from the Robina Foundation, this cross-cutting initiative will explore the institutional requirements for world order in the twenty-first century. It is motivated by recognition that the architecture of global governance--largely reflecting the world as it existed in 1945--has not kept pace with fundamental changes in the international system. These changes include accelerating global economic integration; a shift in global power to non-Western countries; the rise of transnational security threats; the emergence of agile non-state actors; a proliferation of failing states; and evolving norms of state sovereignty. Existing multilateral arrangements thus provide an inadequate foundation for addressing today's most pressing threats and opportunities and for advancing U.S. national and broader global interests.
The program seeks to identify critical weaknesses in current frameworks for multilateral cooperation; propose specific reforms reflective of new global circumstances; and promote constructive U.S. leadership in building the capacities of existing organizations and in sponsoring new, more effective regional and global institutions and partnerships, including those involving the private sector and non-governmental organizations.
The program will focus on arrangements governing state conduct and international cooperation in meeting four broad sets of challenges:
- Countering Transnational Threats, including terrorism, proliferation of WMD, and infectious disease
- Protecting the Environment and Promoting Energy Security
- Managing the Global Economy
- Preventing and Responding to Violent Conflict
In each of these areas, the program will consider whether the most promising framework for governance is a formal organization with universal membership (e.g., the United Nations); a regional or sub-regional organization; a narrower, informal coalition of like-minded countries; or some combination of all three. The program will also examine the potential to adapt major bedrock institutions (e.g., the UN, G8, NATO, IMF, and AU), as well as the feasibility of creating new frameworks and initiatives to meet today's challenges.
The participation, input and endorsement of both official and non-state actors will be critical to ensure the appropriateness and feasibility of any institutional reforms. Throughout the course of the project, CFR will engage stakeholders and constituencies in the United States and abroad, including governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civil society representatives, and the private sector.
The attached concept note summarizes the rationale for the program on global governance, describes potential areas of research and policy engagement, and outlines the envisioned products and activities. We believe that the research and policy agenda outlined here constitutes a significant contribution to U.S. and international deliberations on the requirements for world order in the twenty-first century.