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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest


Global Trends and Global Governance
Paul Kennedy, Dirk Messner and Franz Nuschler (eds)

London: Sterling, VA, Pluto Press, 2002
208 pp inc index PB ISBN 0-7453-1750-2

Just in time for the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, Yale-based scholar Paul Kennedy and his German colleagues Dirk Messner and Franz Nuscheler of the Institute for Development and Peace have tried to build a bridge over the troubled waters of a globalising world. Global Trends and Global Governance provides the inclined reader with an exhaustive overview about of the state of global affairs. The ambitious project deals separately with political, social and ecological matters, including some of the most heatedly discussed international agreements. World Society, World Economy, World Ecology, and World Politics are explained separately by German pundits. All contributors' ambition to cover their field comprehensively is impressive. The approach is theoretical and critical; explaining processes, actors, structures, strategies, and theories.

The focus of the writers' interest, however, remains the same: Global Governance. The concept is not new. It can always be traced back to Kantian or Wilsonian visions of international relations. In 1995, the International Commission on Global Governance demanded more multilateralism. International cooperation was once more seen as the solution for transnational problems. Today, 10 years after the proclamation of a new world order, which was thought to follow the end of the Cold War, many - in particular, German - political scientists' are disappointed in their hopes for a civil-powered world structure.

Rio 1992, Agenda 12, peace dividend, the end of history, Kyoto Protocol - to name just a few - all are synonymous for the intention to develop a perpetually peaceful togetherness. Yet such good intentions are worthless once any of the last decades' pessimistic prophecies should come to reality. Ethnic conflicts in the Balkans, failed states in Africa and the Islamic world, terror, reaction to terror, mass migration, and natural catastrophes all over the planet are sufficient to revive the expected Clash of Civilisations, to fear, as the books are titled, another Imperial Overstretch, to hesitate Entering the 21st Century. As no dividends have thus far been paid, a new world order is no longer a positive notion as no dividends have been paid so far.

Although environmental catastrophes and mass immigration are knocking on the rich world's doors, an internationalisation of these problems seems impossible. Fortunately, the authors have not given up -, yet. The idea that one part of the world cannot live without the other is omnipresent in their writing. Today's multilateralists perceive Realpolitik as a troublesome Cold War legacy - and if it was not for the United States it would no longer be of great importance. Recently, however, restraining focusing the solution of transnational problems to more international cooperation seems to be out of place. Catastrophes of global consequence extend, whether environmental, economic, or military in nature, will challenge the international community but not endanger the nation state. In view of disasters borders are likely produce a fake feeling of security and thus encourage governments to act unilaterally. And even though the Johannesburg summit produced some feasible agreement on preserving the world for future generations, the nuclear threat is here to stay. Thus the authors of Global Trends and Global Governance leave no doubt about the responsibility of the international community for stopping the man-made gradual decline of the world.

Kristin Vorpahl, graduate student in International Relations at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies

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