Centre for International Governance Innovation | Mon, Jul 12, 2021
by C. Randall Henning
Global governance is largely, albeit not exclusively, a matter of collaboration among international institutions. Multiple institutions operate in most issue areas and substantive progress in public health, climate change, development finance and digital regulation, for example, now hinges on constructive relations among institutions. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) will not be vanquished by a single institution operating in isolation but instead by a consortium of institutions, initiatives and multi-stakeholder groups that can be called a “regime complex” (Alter and Raustiala 2018; Henning and Pratt 2021).
Numerous opportunities for institutional collaboration are nonetheless being missed and calls for deepening collaboration are common — if not ubiquitous — in discourse on global governance. These are seen in new areas of governance, such as digital privacy, content moderation and platforms (CIGI 2019; Fay 2019; Aaronson 2018); better-established areas, such as climate change and biodiversity (van Asselt 2014); as well as long-established but nonetheless evolving areas, such as international finance, development and trade (Davis 2009; Lipscy 2017; Henning 2019). Greater exchange of information, coordination of operations and harmonization of rules among institutions — which is what “collaboration” means here — would pay off substantially in many issue areas.