Rethinking Geopolitics and Global Governance: Testing Perspectives on International Human Security

A glaring trend in World Politics re-confirms the overall Stewart P. Bennett’s article entitled “Geopolitics is back – and Global Governance is out”. Thus, the turbulent, largely violent and uncertain character of a world experiencing critical security and humanitarian crises in Syria and Iraq and across the globe whereby burning salient issues ranging from combating terrorism in all its shades and forms (more particularly ISIS terrorism) to drastic climate changes shed more lights on human security concerns. This is why the projected challenges of generating and absorbing innovative thinking are much needed themes to achieve the best interests of vulnerable peoples regardless of their ideological –-geographical and cultural backgrounds of Western or non-Western origin. Under such complex circumstances observers of an increasingly changeable and highly unpredictable world embarked on exploring new interactive dynamic insights of Geopolitics and Global “Good Governance” relationship aimed at finding new avenues and diverse contours of real-politic negotiated solutions to settle seemingly irreconcilable humanitarian global security crises.

Along this line of argument UCL-GGI Symposium was convened on 12-13 November 2015 in the form of an international symposium on Global Governance entitled “Towards a Third Generation of Global Governance”. The core idea centers on activating “Global Governance” to understand and address largely contradictory overlapping themes along the line of seeking “to transcend and dissolve the boundaries between disciplinary silos” and seeking to establish “a broad conceptual tent under which insights from various fields can be incorporated to further our understanding of how the world works”. A matter that is not easily grasped, tackled or even challenged necessitating the need for a new re-thinking process hovering over shifting dynamic global power relations. Understandably by all measures of power the US remains to be an influential supreme Global power at the Geopolitical Global level though increasingly Washington has -in recent years- experienced limits of power affecting its dominant leadership role particularly  as and when interacting with other great powers to resolve crises. Hence, it is increasingly apparent that for the US to act as “solo maestro” harmonizing the tunes of a band of musicians from various societal and cultural backgrounds is an indeed a very difficult task to contemplate.

For its part the US has across its contemporary history in the post-World War II engaged in an interactive dynamic relationship with other competitive and rival powers (Russia and China, EU, Japan, etc.). A relationship which has its fortunes as well as the tendency to fluctuate in high or low terms depending on the scope and extent of managing shared common and diverse interests among the major players in the game of power politics. From a complementary perspective “Rising Powers” may have exploited at times Great Powers’ incapacity to express their true leadership credentials by taking advantage of any vulnerable situation in world politics molding it to suit their interests. However, members of BRICS, MIST, and SANE all have experienced divergent records of successes and failures when addressing plans of human development or shaping regional or global alignments plans depending on their state of coherence or strength. Moreover, James Rosenau’s so-called “Glocal” concept can still be considered as a relevant and valid mode of action aimed at understanding the impact of world affairs on the local scene of diverse regional settings. Eventually people in different regions, associated with different socio-economic and political sectorial interests will also be affected whether in positive or negative terms. Along this line of argument the Global Risks Report 2016 – WEF (World Economic Forum) characterized the fragile status of the world as largely due to causes concerned with the prevalence of critical human security ramifications taken the form of disruptive shifts in Technology, societal expectations, socio- economic inequality and geopolitical rapid changes affecting the course of “Good Governance”.

From another inter-linked perspective, resorting to “Good Governance” at the regional and Global levels will increasingly become an urgent responsibility for any rational or wise leadership armed with the task of reforming national systems albeit with a proviso of appreciating the presence of diverse visions and capabilities for states and non-states actors. Hence, new insights into “Good Global Governance” will eventually become an indispensable concept and an effective technique for shaping a sustainable policy format to crystalize a comprehensive strategy of stability, security and economic growth. In so far as the Middle East is concerned improving “Good Governance” become a much needed popular demand and hence constituted an effective response to a survey conducted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (applied on 100 Arab Thought leaders) revealing lack of Good Governance with root causes encapsulated in salient areas of contention such as the potential of rising authoritarianism trends , rampant corruption , outdated models of educational systems and high rates of unemployment or even one can add also the extension of largest zones of poverty.

Admittedly “Rising Powers” should embark on “Good Governance” techniques targeting overall processes of economic and political reforms creating thereby a futuristic societal model worthy of emulation by various states across the globe. What should be at stake or at the core of any process of administrative, economic and political reform is the question of safeguarding and promoting human rights in its entire format but more so in closing the gaps between the haves and haves not. Admittedly whilst human rights trend has its own history, logic and rhetoric the extent of successful implementation of policies empowering people from different socio-cultural and economic backgrounds may differ in accordance to the extent and scope of support tendered by prevalent political systems but more so by non–governmental civil state societies. From this perspective it is appreciated that there are relatively long term strategic challenges aimed at boosting sustainable global security developmental changes with serious ramifications of critical domestic crises proliferating across regional and international domains leading into  high rates of migration movements from the “South – developing world” to the “advanced developed world”. Hence, the dire need for Rising Powers to administer an urgent program of Good governance at national level so that stability, security and economic prosperity will become the key norms of day to day interactions and transactions.

Admittedly for their part, Great Powers more particularly the US, Russia, China, Japan and the European Union have to think of creating new innovative means for launching a new comprehensive Global human security charter or what one may call a new global societal contract to be negotiated at a later stage with prominent Rising Powers seeking to enhance their overall status in a changeable, unpredictable and complex world. The countries that succeed in building more constructive bridges and close gaps in economic –developmental –societal terms have more viable chances for shaping solid respectable transparent and accountable democratic institutions which ipso-facto reflect the need for more reliable partners contributing their distinctive efforts into “Global Governance”. Along the global efforts of solidifying human security institutions there has to be further efforts at creating international legal institutions. The incoming years and decades will experience to what extent Geopolitical changes may play constructive or destructive roles in preserving current post-World War institutions or embark on establishing new frameworks for launching new innovative institutions that can generate a new enriched environment of reform adaptable to a new digital age. Hence, geopolitical risks at the global, regional and national levels have to be constantly re- evaluated within a research evidence based “Case-Study Approach” applied by diverse states and non-states actors. A matter that leads us to work on furthering our in-depth knowledge of how both “Global Governance” and “Geopolitics” interact intensively with each other with all the anticipated ramifications. According to Robert Gilpin the dynamics of world system depend on re-examining the new international order from a relatively different vantage point known as “social arrangements”. The latter covers the dynamic idea of change applied as an interconnected mode of action affecting physical power, the basic values or norms and the relevant institutions. This is why it seems increasingly important to understand power politics in a new light as a complex comprehensive phenomenon associated with a plethora of diverse states and non-states actors. Admittedly, the prevalent rules of law are not necessarily globally acceptable, sustainable or relevant particularly as the dynamic shift of power politics takes place in an environment characterized of creating alignments and re-alignments with other powers.

Finally, as Donald Trump takes office on the 20th January, the world listens and watches carefully and cautiously how the US will shape new trends of relationships with various states and non-states actors. Are we going to witness drastic changes in global human security along positive terms or will the world may slide in backward steps? Optimism may Trump a trembling world or the adverse results and repercussions may become the order of incoming days? If things turn out to be beyond positive expectations many may long for President Barak Obama’s administration with approval rates approaching a respectable 60%. Clearly How other powers more particularly Rising Powers react to and interact with the US and other Great Powers may determine the kind of world order we are looking to achieve.

Ahmad Shikara

Member of the faculty at the EmiratesCenter for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR) in Abu Dhabi since 2000. There he works in the Training Department and in Human Resources. He recently published on the ramifications of Iraqi elections. In the past he conducted extensive research at the ECSSR and has conducted graduate and faculty seminars focusing on the effect of resource scarcity on the Arabian Gulf and the United States. Dr. Shikara, and before joining the ECSSR, served on the Political Science Department at the United Arab Emirates University (1980-1994), as an honorary professor at the Institute of Developing Economies in Japan (1994) and as a research fellow in the Department of Political Studies at the University of Auckland, New Zealand (1996-2000).

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