Civil society assessment of global governance: It's inefficient and undemocratic

Secretariat, 27. June 2014

Global governance “isn't working,” new report says, stresses urgent need of improved democratic participation

CIVICUS, a global non-governmental organization that identifies itself as world alliance for citizen participation, has released a new assessment of national and international government organizations. In detailing the recent turmoil that has driven a wedge between governments and citizens in countries like Brazil, Turkey, and Venezuela, the group

determines in its State of Civil Society Report 2014 that people across the world are losing faith in both national and global institutions.

Of particular focus in the report was the inability of international government organizations to adequately respond to the needs of its constituents, and these organizations’ overall lack of vital democratic mechanisms that would allow greater input by citizens into the management of world governance. “Global governance isn't working. Global problems still lack global people-oriented solutions,” the report sums up and warns that “international governance institutions with limited scope for people’s participation risk becoming irrelevant.”

CIVICUS highlighted how global governance organizations, due to their lack of accountability to the global populace, are instead influenced by the whims of wealthy nations and powerful multinational corporations. In turn, this causes these institutions to de-emphasize issues that matter to the average citizen, and further fuels the notion that global governance is too disconnected from the needs of common people. The report states that a stronger mandate for democratic participation in world governing bodies would alleviate the influence of the wealthy in these institutions, and would also allow citizens a chance to bring some of their most pressing concerns to the forefront.

Right to democratic global governance

The report includes guest contributions on civil society perspectives on the state of global governance. The director of the Campaign for a UN Parliamentary Assembly, Andreas Bummel, writes in an article on the campaign's proposal that “intergovernmental bodies are largely disconnected from democratic oversight, participation and deliberation.” He stresses that “the right to democratic governance” as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is “indivisible and cannot be limited to the national level” as “agenda-setting and decision-making on important policies are shifting to the UN and its specialised institutions, as well as to international fora such as the G8 and the G20.” A UN Parliamentary Assembly, he says, would be a means to “improve global governance by adding a democratic and independent complement to existing intergovernmental bodies.”

In the report's foreword, CIVICUS Secretary-General Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah stresses that “there is an urgent need to democratise global governance, to support greater participation of citizens in decision-making and to engender an environment that enables civil society to substantively engage in these processes.”

Website of the State of Civil Society Report 2014

Top image: CIVICUS World Assembly in Montreal, September 2012. Photo credit: Tristan Brand