“Reframing Global Governance: Apocalypse Soon or Reform”


In “Reframing Global Governance: Apocalypse Soon or Reform,” David Held discusses dilemma the world faces today: using local means to address the global problems (2010, 143). The issues include climate change, achieving the Millennium Development Goals, and ending the spread of nuclear weapons. The author argues that local and national means are incomplete and weak in addressing these challenges. He further asserts that solving these related to the whole world problems is necessary to promote social justice, solidarity among nations, democracy and the effective implementation of policies.

However, the approaches that have been used before, such as the Washington Consensus, have failed to realize social justice and democracy, especially in the Third World countries. The Washington Consensus is based on the liberal theory, which supports a free world economy. Existing evidence, nevertheless, indicate that liberalization of the world economy does not benefit the poor countries. On the other hand, states that did not follow the rules of the Washington Consensus like China, India, and Vietnam, have experienced fast economic growth. (Held 2010, 152). This is because the Washington Consensus strengthened market forces while it weakened local, national and global means of governance.

At the same time, it allows strong nations to exploit the weak ones, which increases the social and economic inequalities. This trend suggests that realism (the pursuit of self-interests by nations) is still at work even when nations promote the liberal ideas. An example is the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and Iran. Therefore, the author claims the problems that countries like the USA want to address, such as terrorism and reduction of natural resources, affect all states. These are global problems requiring global solutions. Consequently, D. Held faults local approaches (realist approaches) that aim to give attention to one country’s needs. He argues for a system of global governance that promotes coordination and cooperation to solve common problems.


The author raises serious issues that are of significant relevance to the world today. I agree with his arguments because they reflect the nature of international relations nowadays, particularly on how the market liberalization and realism hinder efforts to achieve social justice, political and economic stability, as well as the Millennium Development Goals.

Held identifies globalization as the reason why countries ought to cooperate in addressing the different problems they face. The aforementioned process encourages interdependence among nations in areas like trade, sharing of information, labor, and utilization of the natural resources. As a result, problems that affect one country will naturally affect others. For instance, terrorism is not an American-only problem since all states are concerned about insecurity and the threat of anarchy. In this regard, there are challenges in the fight against terrorism because each country pursues its own means to ensure internal security. For example, America’s single-handed war against terrorism suggests a failure to recognize the fact that terrorist activities create insecurities in all countries. Peace is a universal need, something that every nation must have in order to achieve other goals like economic growth and political stability. Thus, the national or local approach to a global problem tends to isolate/exclude others, which makes it difficult to find long-lasting solutions.

Another relevant issue the author refers to is the idea that use of local means only serves to promote realism in the international relations. The theory of realism argues the goal of nations in the international relations is to encourage their self-interests. States do not cooperate with others for the reason of altruism (to achieve a common goal), but to promote their own interests. The impact of the Washington Consensus shows this is the reality; liberalization of the market allows strong economies to exploit weak ones. This suggests that original goal of the Washington Consensus (market liberalization) was not to provide a level-playing ground for all countries in the world market, but to provide the industrialized and developed west with an excuse to monopolize the market with cheap products.

In this regard, the researcher’s argument offers a realistic evaluation of the situation concerning the problems the world faces today. Neither realist nor liberal approaches will lead to a long-lasting solution. This is because one allows unfair competition between strong and weak economies while the other encourages the pursuit of self-interests. As a result, it is necessary for the states to cooperate and create a collective approach that will accommodate the needs of each and lead to a common solution.

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