From climate change to organized crime to financial regulation through to global pandemics, many of the gravest problems society faces today cannot be resolved by any country acting alone. Globalization has created a world of “complex interdependence” in which cooperation across borders is required to provide the security, prosperity, and wellbeing on which we all depend.
Traditionally, transborder cooperation has been negotiated between nation-states. In the aftermath of the Second World War, states created a range of intergovernmental institutions—the international financial institutions, the trade regime, and above all the United Nations—that have become the core of our current multilateral order.
Fascinatingly, however, these traditional institutions are being joined by an increasing range of new forms of global governance. For example, transgovernmental networks link ostensibly domestic government officials into flexible platforms for coordination and information exchange. Private regulatory schemes hold corporations responsible for environmental and social standards. Diverse coalitions of actors—states, corporations, NGOs, and others—form multistakeholder initiatives for topics as diverse as disease prevention and the management of the Internet. We live in a period of remarkable innovation in global governance.
Scholars and practitioners have recognized these changes, which pervade nearly every area of global politics, but have yet to fully describe or explain them. We need to know what has changed, why it has changed, and what implications the changes hold for the political issues that affect our societies. A first step toward answering these crucial questions—until now missing from the literature—would be a comprehensive mapping of the new institutions. This is what the Handbook of Transnational Governance hopes to contribute. In it, we have gathered over 50 expert summaries of innovative forms of global governance which, together, provide the most complete picture of the new forms of governance that yet exists. We hope this resource will help students, scholars, and practitioners to better understand the changing institutional landscape that increasingly shapes every aspect of political life.
Thomas Hale is a PhD candidate at Princeton University. David Held is Graham Wallas Professor of Political Science at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Their new book, Handbook of Transnational Governance, is out now.