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EU-UNU Tokyo Global Forum
Governance Across Borders
National, Regional and Global
Programme Contact & Registration Japanese
Governance Across Borders
National, Regional and Global

Citizens have a stake in the success of their society, and must have a say in running it. At the beginning of the 21st century, the world standard for good governance is democracy, tolerance, and pluralism, ensuring full and fair representation of citizens in governmental decision-making and full protection of human and minority rights. The number of countries committed to democracy has increased considerably over the past fifty years.

Paradoxically, when participation and openness are the benchmarks of good governance at the domestic level, there are criticisms that more and more of the decisions that affect our lives are being moved beyond the national realm into organisations that do not appear to meet the same standards of accountability, representation and transparency. The European Union is based on the principle of delegating national sovereignty in areas where a collective approach is more efficient than individual, local or national actions. This is referred to as the subsidiarity principle. For the EU, as the President of the European Commission, Romano Prodi, put it "When we speak of "governance" we are, in fact, discussing democracy. European democracy, how it works, why it doesn't work better and what its prospects are."

Norms of justice: national, regional, global?

There has clearly been an internationalisation of standards of political legitimacy and governance. Forms of government, human rights and gender equality, rights to development, health and education have all become international or even global issues. In terms of human rights and justice, we are seeing a universalisation of standards that can impinge upon 'national' standards and processes. The statute of the International Criminal Court is a landmark in both the ethos and the process of internationalisation of humanitarian law. But is international justice inevitably 'political' in terms of where and when it is upheld? How do we ensure that international justice is not perceived as 'victor's justice'?

Economic governance and sustainable development

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan stated that "good governance is perhaps the single most important factor in eradicating poverty and promoting development." Today, some 3 billion people live in poverty - on less than $2 a day - and 1.3 billion live on less than $1 a day. The mixed record of success concerning international development projects as well as problems of corruption and inadequate policies have highlighted sensitivities regarding governance in the context of development assistance: is it a form of unwelcome intervention? 'Conditionality' and issues such as corruption and human rights continue to be controversial when attached to international development initiatives. The transparency and accountability of international financial actors is likewise sensitive.

Comparing regional models of governance: sharing sovereignty

Public policy is increasingly approached at the regional level, where despite different national norms and traditions, historical ties of cooperation have developed. The EU's pursuit of common objectives and interests is one such example. Can models of European governance be appropriate references for other regions in entirely different circumstances?

    Among the major questions to be addressed are:

  • The EU model provides answers to global problems by involving stakeholders (civil society, media, private business, etc.) in its decision-making process. Can the European model be exported?

  • How is state sovereignty evolving in parallel with developments both at the regional and global levels?

  • How can 'conditionality' in aid programmes be targeted to combat corruption as an obstacle to development?

  • How and when, and with what positive and negative consequences do international politics intersect with local efforts to reduce poverty and inequality?