Beyond a Seat at the Table: Participation and Influence in Global Governance
Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies, Working Paper No. 211 – March 2019
20 Pages Posted: 4 Jun 2019
Date Written: May 16, 2019
Debates on the legitimacy of global governance pay remarkably little attention to whether and how developing countries can influence global governance. Instead, the focus lies significantly on addressing legitimacy challenges such as access and exclusion in global governance. To be sure, increasing participation in global governance is a goal worth pursuing. But these debates by and large stop short of addressing a crucial question: how can weak states harness increased participation in global governance if they are ill-equipped to do so? In order to respond to this question, the present article lays down a framework of mechanisms that might induce more influence by developing countries. The article makes two claims. First, we should look beyond participation in or access to global governance and focus also on enabling influence by developing countries. Influence is the combination of two skills that need to be understood if we want to foster effective participation by developing countries: translation of global governance (understood as the ability to make sense of global discussions and to devise political reactions thereto) and empowerment to defend the interests of a country at global decision-making processes. Second, increased influence by developing countries results not only from top-down measures or reforms adopted by global governance institutions, which is the predominant approach today. Rather, influence can also result from fostering domestic capacities (actor-level mechanisms of influence) or by leveraging resources available at the international system, such as by forming coalitions or by collaborating with non-governmental organizations (system-level mechanisms). The framework thus proposed is a matrix that combines translation and empowerment at the actorand system-levels, a framing that might contribute to advance policy and scholarly discussions on influence by developing countries.
Keywords: global governance, negotiations, developing countries
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