Related Articles Commentary Paper SIIS Report
Dec 18 2012
Limits and Potentials of the Developing Countries in Global Governance
By Yang Jiemian

Inclusive global governance is one of the on-going efforts of the developing countries in this fast changing and complicated world. This is a process that started in the 1960s and will continue for many years to come.

I. Current Roles of the Developing Countries in Global Governance. Among all the roles, the following three stand out prominently. (1) They are the promoters of the UN centrality and democratization of international relations. Actually they are evolutionary reformers of the existent mechanisms. (2) They are invigorators of new mechanisms to cope with new challenges of our times, both institutionally and conceptually. A case in point is their role of G-20 by pursuing consultation and cooperation with the developed countries during the ongoing financial crisis and economic difficulties. (3) They are initiators of mechanisms of developing/emerging powers, such as the BRICS. The forming of BRICS reflects the shifting distribution of powers and upgrading of the developing countries.

II. Limits of the Developing Countries in Global Governance. The basic limit of the developing countries is their lack of both hard and soft powers. This leads to the second limits of their roles in global governance. They are weaker in airing their opinion, more followers than the makers of the rules and norms, and less influential in those institutions where representation is not a prerequisite. All in all, these limits contribute to the fact that the developing countries as a whole are still at the bottom, or at the best, the lower-middle level of the evolving global governance.

III. Potentials of the Developing Countries in Global Governance. The potentials are enormous but need to be fully tapped. Presently, it is both imperative and possible to translate the following four potentials into realities. (1) Economic governance. The international community needs to implement all the reform promises and programs made since the financial crisis in 2008. The developed countries should de-politicize economic performance of the developing countries, such as the latter’s investments in the former. Moreover, the developed countries should be more inclusive towards the developing countries on matters such as financial and energy managements. (2) Political and security governance. The developed countries, especially the established power of the United States, should go with the trends of multi-polarization and regionalism, give due recognition to the developing countries’ drive to make the international order and system in fairer and more equitable direction. Furthermore, both developed and developing countries should transcend the old thinking of divided interests to common ones. (3) Ecological governance. The developed countries should overcome the superior mentalities by admitting their pollution export to the developing countries and work with the latter for concept building and practical endeavors. The Europe’s unilateral carbon tax is very counter-productive. (4) Cultural governance. The recent years are witnessing a cultural shifting from the North to the South, and from the West to the East. More and more developing countries host Olympic Games, World Expo and World Cup. However, the global governance in cultural aspect is almost non-existent and waits the joint efforts by both the developed and developing countries.

(This is an excerpt of Jiemian Yang’s speech at the High Level Policy Forum on Global Governance jointly sponsored by the United Nation Development Program and the China Center of International Economic Exchanges in Beijing on December 17, 2012)

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