it comes to the subject of global governance, Thomas Weiss is one of the
world’s most well-known experts on the challenges and procedures that this
issue brings to international affairs. In his book, Global Governance: Why? What? Whither?, Weiss discusses that
correlation between the increasing number of global threats and the weak political
structures for overall international problem-solving. Some of these global
threats that Weiss talks about include; climate change, proliferation of
weapons of mass destruction, humanitarian crisis, terrorism, and economic
development (Weiss, 2013).
the beginning of his book, Weiss explained to reads how global governance is
defined. He states;
“Global governance is the sum of the informal
and formal values, norms, procedures, and institutions, that help all actors –
states, intergovernmental organizations, civil society, transnational
corporations, and individuals – to identify, understand, and address
trans-boundary problems” (Weiss, 2013, p. 2).
Given this definition,
governance contributes the “government-like-services” that the international
system provides during the absence of a global government (Weiss, 2013).
order to effectively study these government-like-services, Weiss creates an
analytic framework that is made up of five “gaps”. These include; knowledge
gaps, normative gaps, policy gaps, institutional gaps, and compliance gaps.
Weiss defines a gap as a theoretical device that helps important tasks be
defined. These gaps help to show the exact success or failures of global
governance (Weiss, 2013).
structure of Weiss’ book is very easy to follow. In Chapter 1, he discusses the
reason behind why global governance came to be and why the world is so
interested in researching it. Chapter 2 is an outline of why exactly global
governance is. During this chapter, Weiss attempts to go into detail in the
issues of power and incentives as it relates to global governance. Regarding
the subject of power and global governance, Weiss states the following;
“Why is this the common point of
departure? Because publics, politicians, and pundits increasingly realize that
a globalizing world requires a host of mechanisms to manage complex
international relations. IGOs and INGOs manage conflicts; they monitor and
protect human rights; they promote development and trade; and they work to
avert environmental collapse” (Weiss, 2013, p. 36).
Although the discussion
does not move past the subject of power as possession, power could just as
easily be mistaken for action. This would definitely help to justify why we
should be interested in global governance rather than the reason Weiss gave of just
nation-states (Weiss, 2013).
uses Chapter 3 to state the gaps that he used during his research. In this
chapter, Weiss provides readers with examples of each of these gaps as they
relate to the current issues of global governance. For example, one of the
biggest challenge in global governance today is terrorism. For this example,
Weiss uses the knowledge gap to explain the debate that members of the United
Nation have when it comes to defining terrorism. The word “terrorist” is often
used by other governments in hopes to help silence opposition (Weiss, 2013, p.
66-67). This debate is later touched on by Weiss when he discusses the
challenges that come along with attempting to fill the normative gaps. He
“A major difficulty is trying to fill
global governance normative gaps is evident from the familiar refrain that one
country’s or group’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter” (Weiss, 2013, p.
4 through 8 deal with each of these gaps by investigating six main issues that
appear in International Relations. These issues and very similar to the global
threats listed earlier. They include; the use of force, terrorism, generators
of Human Rights, the responsibility to protect, human development, and climate
change. Lastly, Chapter 9 concludes the book and explains whither global
governance is helping to provide solutions to all of these major international
issues (Weiss, 2013).
his discussion on what global governance is and what exactly is does for the
system of states, Weiss explains to readers what the future of the world looks
like through the eyes a political scientist. This debate is one that has two
completely different viewpoints. Some people believe that we live in an
anarchical system of states that contains little to no order, while others seem
to be more optimistic and believe that states have the ability to form
international organization that can help to provide some structure to world
affairs. Weiss explains how
Realists and Neoliberal Institutionalists see the world by stating;
“Realism argues that
powerful states comply when it is in their material interest to do so, and the
weak because of pressure from the strong. Neoliberal institutionalists argue
that ‘the shadow of the future’ leads states to comply because of the benefits
accruing from ‘diffuse reciprocity’: the willingness to compromise, and even
lose out now and again, because overall they benefit from long-term cooperation
(Weiss, 2013, p. 149)”
question still remains, what does the future hold? Will global governance be
enough to help save the planet from the violence of nuclear weapons or global
warming? It is quite obvious through Weiss’ writings that this is unlikely.
Weiss states that although global governance was able to save the world in the
past, he does not believe that it will be enough in the future. In order for
these major problems to be solved, world government will be needed. Weiss
states that, “global governance constitutes a bridge between the old and the
yet unborn” (Weiss, 2013, p. 181).
comes to Weiss’ opinion of what the future hold for the planet, he sides with
the optimists. “Global government rather than global governance provides a
missing but essential component” (Weiss, 2013, p. 182). Also while being
optimistic, Weiss believes that with the help of technical advances, the gaps
for world government will open, allowing it to be possible. With this, “global
federalism may not appear so unlikely a half-century from now” (Weiss, 2013, p.
The main concern that I have regarding the possible form of
world government in the future, is that Weiss has unrealistic ideas about the
strength of statehood and its capability to permanently solve global issues. I feel
that the world would not allow for the kind of stability that would be
necessary for a world government to endure the global threats such as the ones
we have today. That being said, I do not believe that the quest of a world
government is one that is pointless, I just think that a world government would
only help in solving the already existing threats, such as nuclear weapons and
climate change. When using our political imagination of what we think the
future of the plant holds, it is important to look beyond just political unites
and attempt to come up with solution to the main issue of global threats.
Overall, Weiss’ book does an excellent job of analyzing
the major issues in the world today. This provides readers with an
understanding of where the major gaps in the policy making process really are.
Weiss’ book also provides readers with an overall summary of the history of
global governance. This book provides a
good combination of debates as well as the different perspectives of people
throughout the world. Weiss also points out how the past has helped decide the
difference between what type of global governance is possible and what type of
global governance is unrealistic. This book contributes to International
Rations by expressing how the present-day world is governed and the ways that
we can make it a better place.