A Reflection on Frontiers of Global Governance and Leadership

The following piece is a reflection written by our Baha’i Chair Student Intern, Sara Rissanen. This piece discusses Frontiers of Global Governance and Leadership, one of the five central themes of the Baha’i Chair for World Peace.

Frontiers of Global Governance and Leadership is the fourth of the five central themes of the Baha’i Chair for World Peace. As an intern for the Baha’i Chair, I have learned the essence of this theme and have come to see how it plays out in my own life and our world as a whole. In saying that, I am still a student, learning every day how to bring about a world of peace. I hope you enjoy these thoughts and reflections on what this theme means to me and how I see it playing out in our world today.

When it comes to the five themes of the Baha’i Chair, Global Governance is one that really forces you to consider the global scale. While other themes can be applied on a small scale – within your daily life or your community – global governance is really all about the necessity to work internationally to solve world-level problems. This is a vital part of world peace as I don’t think it is possible to create sustainable change without the involvement of international governing bodies. 

Global governance is necessary for world order. In an interview with The Brookings Institution, Professor Ann Florini described the difference between government and governance:

‘Governance’ is a much broader term, generally referring to how we solve all the big public-policy problems, collective-action problems, that we face in any society, whether it’s at a community level, a national level, or a global level. It doesn’t really matter. They all need governance of some kind. All it means is some system for making and enforcing rules so that we can manage problems that we share.

The United Nations is one of our main governing bodies when it comes to peaceful global leadership. The UN plays a huge role in bringing together countries within all standings to reach a common goal. The World Bank, the IMF, and the WTO are also global governance institutions. Other than these larger organizations, global governance is also performed by smaller, regional organizations such as the EU and NATO. With global governance comes an international economy and international standards for environmental degradation, production, and trade. These can be used to combat problems such as climate change, nuclear weapons, ocean pollution, habitat loss, pandemics, and global inequalities. 

One question the Baha’i Chair considers within global governance is whether it is possible to conceive of new forms of more compassionate, just, and fair governance on a global scale. I don’t just think it is possible but I think it is necessary. We face a set of global problems that cannot be solved without working together. While we have the solutions to our global problems, our governance tools aren’t fit to address these problems. Global governance institutions have done much successful work in order to create a better world order but we see growing inequalities among representation within these institutions. There is a lack of representation of women and a lack of representation of countries outside of Europe and North America. Many countries in the global south do not have adequate representation in these global governance organizations. These inequalities are problematic as many of the countries that could benefit the most from global governance systems are those with a lack of representation. The question really comes to: how can we improve leadership at the global level to ensure that new forms of governance are equitable for all?

In this day and age, our world is interconnected at a whole new level. Information passes between countries instantaneously. However, it’s not just information that passes between countries, as seen now with our current pandemic the interconnectedness of our world cannot be disregarded. We can no longer just focus on succeeding within our own country while letting every other country figure it out for themselves. I think it is incredibly important to use this as an opportunity to unite the world. While it’s not simple, being able to work together will allow the world to progress together as a whole. By engaging with the challenges of governance on a global scale, the Baha’i Chair is working to establish a framework for addressing these challenges and the questions they raise. 

Looking to learn more about Global Governance? You can view all of the lectures in this series on our YouTube channel here.

About the Author

Sara Rissanen is a junior studying Marketing at the University of Maryland. She is currently the Marketing Specialist at the Baha’i Chair for World Peace. Sara hopes to create a better future by opening the conversation of peace-building among her peers.

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