Global Policy Forum

General Analysis on Globalization of Politics

These articles discuss the theory, function, and creation of global politics and movements. The page pays special attention to political tools and methods to build understanding about what drives policy making and political movements at an international level.

Articles and Documents


Key Documents | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2008 | 2007 |2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 | 2001 | 2000 | 1999 | 1995

Key Documents


A Question of Political Will (August 2005)

This briefing paper analyzes the report "Mobilising Political Will," published by the Finnish government in the context of the "Helsinki Process on Globalisation and Democracy" conference. The Helsinki Process tries to bring more democracy into the global governance system, through a "multi-stakeholder approach," involving not only governments but also NGOs and business representatives. While participants generally expressed support for the multi-stakeholder approach, some NGO representatives hinted that sharp differences of opinion among the participants led to "too timid" suggestions on privatization, debt relief and international taxes. (Global Policy Forum and Friedrich Ebert Foundation)

Whose International Community? (April 1999)

This article, published by the Third World Network, examines the meaning of an "international community" arguing that it is a concept whose primary purpose lies in the imposition of a neoliberal global economic order and the enforcement of conformism among the nations of the world.


One Small Step for Privacy, One Giant Leap Against Surveillance (January 7, 2014)

On December 18, 2013 the 193 members of the United Nations General Assembly unanimously approved a UN privacy resolution entitled "The right to privacy in the digital age."  The resolution, which was introduced by Brazil and Germany and sponsored by more than 50 member states, is aimed at upholding the right to privacy for everyone at a time when the United States and the United Kingdom have been conducting sweeping mass surveillance on billions of innocent individuals around the world from domestic soil. (Electronic Frontiers Foundation)


Hammarskjöld Perspectives - Solidarity and Ethics in Global Governance (June 18, 2013)

Henning Melber, Senior Adviser and Director Emeritus at the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation and Policy Advisor of Global Policy Forum, reflects on the legacy of Hammarskjöld. In his presentation to the Plenary Panel on “Ethical Leaders and Global Leadership: Building on the Legacy of Dag Hammarskjöld” on 18 June 2013 at the Academic Council on the United Nations (ACUNS) 13th Annual Meeting, Henning Melber highlights the importance of ethics and solidarity in global governance. He sets Dag Hammarskjöld as an example of the kind of a leadership also needed today. (Henning Melber)


Reclaiming the Republic (February, 2012)

Acclaimed author Lawrence Lessig denounces institutions corrupted by moneyed interests - Congress, accounting, financial services, healthcare, academics and the media. He compares institutional corruption with a disease for which the body cannot develop a sufficient immune response. Slowly but surely, corruption as an invidious, systemic wrong destroys the body politic. In this Boston-Review interview, Lessig presents concrete solutions to what he believes to be one of the most dangerous forms of corruption, namely the US campaign-finance system. (Boston Review)

Thematic Social Forum – Working Towards a Never Ending Democracy (January 27, 2012)

From January 24th to January 29th the Thematic Social Forum, an offshoot of the World Social Forum, was held in the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre. The thematic meeting, focused on “Capitalist Crises, Environmental and Social Justice,” promotes an end to the international power structures that divide the world into a “centre” and a “periphery.” On the basis of a contribution made by Portuguese sociologist Boventura Sousa Santos, this IPS article outlines the Forum’s main objectives. Leaders and social movements should focus on the challenge of reversing trends such as the establishment of technocratic governments and the increasingly disorganization of states, with traditionally public services being replaced by widespread credit for the masses. (Inter Press Service)

Social Protection Floors for Inclusive Globalization (January 10, 2012)

The latest report of the International Labour Organization “Social Protection Floors for a Fair and Inclusive Globalization” advocates for a minimum level of social protection as part of the socio economic floor of the global economy. The rationale behind this plea is that current growth patterns and an asymmetrical globalization process have produced uneven impacts and opportunities, widening intra and international inequalities. Inequality, in turn, threatens social and political stability worldwide. Although the social protection floor can by no means be considered a magic solution for the world’s problems, extending horizontally access to essential social services and income security does seem an important first step to disrupt the vicious circle of increased inequality, and social and political instability. (Policy Innovations)

Presidents Who don’t Preside (January 2012)

European summits come and go and American presidential candidates and elected representatives run around like headless chickens, at the mercy of de-regulated markets that they are either unable or unwilling to control. By claiming that “the system has become a cockleshell adrift on the ocean, with a demoted captain shouting orders as the hurricane brews” this article of le Monde Diplomatique confronts world electorates with the uncomfortable reality that if the upcoming election year in France, the US or Russia, to name but a few, does not produce the political will to regain the powers currently held by finance, future elections will continue being democratic rituals empty of meaning. (Le Monde Diplomatique)


Value vs. Values: The Myth of the Ethical Consumer (March 24, 2011)

Many surveys on ethical consumerism purport to show how in the last 25 years there has been a significant increase in so called “ethical consumers” – individuals who base purchasing decisions on whether a product’s social and ethical positioning aligns with their values. However, when companies offer such products, the vast majority of consumers respond with indifference. The gap between the survey’s findings and market statistics can be understood by looking at the difference between how individuals say they act, and what they ultimately do. By presenting the findings of a series of generalized experimental polling studies conducted over nearly 10 years, this op-ed piece of Policy Innovation gives an answer to the question whether or not a true ethical consumer exists. Are individuals cause-driven progressives when surveyed and economic pragmatists at the checkout line? (Policy Innovation)

India Postpones Plan to Allow in Walmart and Tesco (December 5, 2011)

In the face of vast political opposition, the Indian government was forced to suspend its decision to allow international supermarkets to invest in the country. Global companies such as Walmart, Tesco and Carrefour had previously announced their intention to invest £300bn in India’s retail markets. Supporters of this move maintain that this would lead to an improvement in infrastructure and to lower consumer prices. Opponents, however, fear that the measure would threaten the livelihood of local farmers and put millions of shop owners out of business. In the context of the most recent protest movements spreading like wildfire across the globe, the Indian government’s announcement to postpone its decision to open India’s doors to big international supermarkets is yet another event suggesting that citizens can influence national politics and force governments to listen to their voice and will. (Guardian)

The Costs of Ethical Consuming (November, 2011)

In this op-ed piece, UC Santa Cruz sociology professor Andrew Szasz discusses the limits of ethicalconsumption. Ethical consumption is often presented as the ultimate solution to the gravest ethical and environmental concerns of our times. If each individual would make conscious choices regarding the products they purchase, so the argument goes, change on the individual level would certainly lead to change on the macro level. According to Szasz, however, ethical consumption by itself is not enough to tackle the environmental, economic and political crises the world is currently facing. A change in individual consumption habits ought to be only one of the many facets of true civic engagement, not a substitute for it. Unfortunately, rather than inspiring additional action, ethical consumption often proves to silence the internal voice urging “ethical consumers” to do more.

We Need a Third Way, Now (November, 2011)

Globalization has often been accused of handing over power to the financial markets, depriving democracy of all substance and bringing about the current global economic instabilities. Therefore, a debate has arisen over its opposite: deglobalization. In order to face crises such as the one in Greece, Portugal or Spain, the deglobalization movement proposes to reconstitute national sovereignty. In this piece of le Monde diplomatique, Jean-Marie Harribey argues that, although globalization has brought about economic disaster, deglobalization is not the answer either. The global crisis is more than the sum of national crises and thus, no national solution will ever manage to tackle current problems. The struggle against climate change is only one of the many issues illustrating this. What is needed is a form of “alter-globalization,” which, while scrutinizing globalization, does not advocate its direct opposite (Le Monde Diplomatique)

Where Did the Left Go? (November, 2011) 

In this article, le Monde Diplomatique’s editor Serge Halimi argues that the distinction between a reform minded left and a conservative centre has become an empty election ritual. Indeed, if given the chance, the left runs the country just like its opponents would have, taking care not to upset the economic order and winning rating agencies over which, if the government would pursue genuinely leftwing policies, would immediately downgrade the country. But the left has not yet disappeared. When people see that governments are stripped of their sovereignty, when they mobilize without knowing where their anger will lead, then the left is still very much alive.Where the left is in power, it has a trump card: it has the voters behind it. Left governments ought to make use of this momentum, not with caution and cowardice, but with guts and courage for reform.  (Le Monde Diplomatique)

The Solutions Generation (November 8, 2011)

As the global Occupy movements illustrates, protests can have the power to bring the current system into question. However, in order to effect change, protests must have a “shared vision.”What is the vision of the generation of the Arab Spring, the Spanish Indignados, the Wall Street Occupiers? The most important element of the new vision is a refocus on sustainable human well-being as the goal, rather than maximizing conventional economic production and consumption. The Transition Town Movement, The Great Transition Initiative, Wiser Earth, and The Center for a New American Dream, to name but only a few, are already involved in building this vision. (Al Jazeera)


Runaway Globalization Without Governance (2008)

The discourse on globalization is new but the phenomenon has been around for centuries. This author states that without global governance, globalization will worsen the state of the world. Historical examples are used, such as the international responses to the Bubonic plague and the Mongols' control of the Silk Road, to show that global governance structures can be successful. The failure of the world's most powerful countries, especially the United States, to cooperate in matters of international governance is a central challenge to global governance. Other obstacles include issues of sovereignty, national security and climate change. (YaleGlobal)

New Directions or Just New Directors? (April, 15, 2010)

The world's leading emerging economies - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - are everyday forging stronger bonds. Together they seek to strengthen their role in the world economy in multi-lateral organizations. Many, however, criticize these new dynamics for not representing anything new for the majority of the people living in the South. The focus on trade among these nations precludes any craving for deeper changes in the global system. Observers also note that these countries want to protect their own interests in a manner that is all too familiar. (IPS)

From Copenhagen to Cochabamba (March 31, 2010)

In the central Bolivian city of Cochabamba, government representatives and thousands of activists will gather for the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. The April 19-22 conference was announced as an alternative platform to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change that convened last in Copenhagen. Many in the global environmental movement urge alternative proposals and new models to mitigate climate change, and the conference in Cochabamba hopes to provide them. (Terraviva)

G20 Big Powers Under Scrutiny by Smaller Nations  (March 23, 2010)

Some States are concerned about the possibility that the G20 might upstage the United Nations as the major political and economic forum. The G20 has taken an increasingly active role since the financial crises. In response, a coalition of 23 States is encouraging the G20 to compliment and strengthen the UN - the only global body with universal participation. (IPS)

Speaking Truth to Davos (January 29, 2010)

"Reform" was the buzz word at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week, the annual "marketplace of ideas" for the global elite. But critics remain skeptical about the WEF's readiness to depart from business as usual. One alternative conference - the Other-Davos - convened in Basel to discuss more fundamental changes in the global economy. (



The World Turned Upside Down: The Centre Won't Hold Any More (November 6, 2008)

For two centuries, Western countries have dominated world trade and global politics. Now, the western neoliberal model is in crisis and emerging countries in East and South Asia, and Latin America challenge the world hegemony, making global governance more diversified. For example, after the collapse on Wall Street, the US asked China and Singapore for financial help.(Le Monde diplomatique)

The Myth of the Nation-State (September 2, 2008)

Transnational challenges such as pollution, terrorism and climate change undermine nation-states' status as principal actors in international relations. But, argues this article, many university professors still base their curricula on the "myth of the nation-state." By focusing on the nation-state, they not only overlook global solutions, they further assume that the nation-state is a coherent and homogenous entity. The author calls for a stronger role for non-state actors, human rights, and ethics in the study of international relations. (Policy Innovations)

A Third Way: Globalization from the Bottom (August 6, 2008)

In his book, "How to Rule the World: the Coming Battle Over the Global Economy," Mark Engler argues that, "imperial globalization," driven by the US's growing international influence and "corporate globalization," which promotes the interests of transnational companies, reinforce poverty and income inequality. Instead, Engler advocates "democratic globalization," which he defines as a bottom-up movement addressing the problems of an increasingly connected world. Engler cites the World Social Forum as an example of this approach, which provides the opportunity for people from around the world to tackle topics such as environmental degradation. (Foreign Policy In Focus)

David Grewal on Network Power (May 31, 2008)

In this interview, David Grewal explores the moral implications of globalization that creates networks of global elites who make decisions on global policies behind closed doors and impose them on others. For example, in 1998 OECD countries proposed a Multilateral Agreement on Investment to allow corporations to carry out financial operations all over the world, without regard for national laws and citizens' rights. Grewal says that international treaties "should emerge from global consultation and not as the product of a closed-door deliberation by rich countries." (Policy Innovations)

Runaway Globalization Without Governance (May 2008)

This YaleGlobal article says globalization has created a borderless world that needs a system of global governance. World leaders should address nuclear nonproliferation and climate change through global rules. But, multilateral agreements require nations to compromise national sovereignty and global rules do not always fulfill each country's economic and security interests. The US has the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons and has not ratified the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. The author says that the US's "exceptionalist credo [puts] the world that globalization has created at considerable risk."



Globalization, the State and the Democratic Deficit (July 18, 2007)

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown is proposing a set of reforms that will increase the powers of the legislative branch of government, including giving parliament a bigger role in international policy making. This openDemocracy article argues that such reforms would address the "democratic deficit" created by globalization in the last couple of decades. While much globalization literature claims that globalization has weakened the state, the author argues that it has weakened the legislature, but strengthened the executive. For example, major international institutions such as the IMF and the WTO negotiate exclusively with the executive power, leaving global economic policy unscrutinized by parliaments.

Two Economic Giants, How Many Votes? (April 3, 2007)

Although the US currently dominates the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization, the rapid expansion of the Chinese economy may soon threaten US economic hegemony. China's increasing voting shares in all three institutions could allow it to shift the global balance of power and "drive international economic policy the way no nation has before." (International Herald Tribune)

Globalization and Child Labor: The Cause Can Also Be A Cure (March 13, 2007)

This YaleGlobal article reports that, while economic globalization has brought about forced child labor, political globalization can "put an end to the practice" through public opinion. The 2001 Cocoa Protocol, for example, which promoted a label certifying chocolate products as "child labor free," arose out of global public outcry over the human rights violations in the cacao industry. However, the author argues that only a broad, unified approach by policymakers, companies, and civil society can successfully end the exploitation of child labor.

Democracy in the Light of Globalization (February 19, 2007)

Global democracy might be the only way to prevent world war, argues this World Economy and Development article. The author details growing discontent with US unilateralism, the decline of the US's economic dominance, and the rising role of developing countries in multilateral institutions as "windows of opportunity" for the formation of this more peaceful and equitable global society.

Chairman's Summary: Shadow G-8 (February 9, 2007)

Joseph Stiglitz summarizes a discussion on "global growth with responsibility" by "a diverse group of concerned citizens from around the world," including leading economists and former government officials. The resulting consensus calls for a reformed G8 process which would enable participation from all countries "to discuss informally the major issues facing the world," with a focus on the four immediate problems of climate change, global imbalances, global governance, and poverty, especially in Africa. (Initiative for Policy Dialogue)



The Globalization Index 2006 (November-December 2006)

In this sixth annual Globalization Index report Foreign Policy and A.T. Kearney rank 62 countries, accounting for 85 percent of the world's population, according to their degree of globalization as measured by 12 variables. The variables fall in the four categories of economic integration, personal contact, technological connectivity, and political engagement, revealing also "the very different ways that countries are opening themselves up." Throughout the report, the authors imply that more globalization is always better. However, despite this clearly positive and seemingly uncritical view of globalization, the report acknowledges that "highly globalized nations spew more carbon dioxide per capita than less globalized countries."

At the UN, How We Envy the World Cup (June 9, 2006)

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan describes the World Cup as a model for successful international politics. Annan points out four manners in which the international community could learn from the World Cup: accountability, conversation and analysis, equality, and willingness to learn from other countries. Individuals throughout the world dissect World Cup interactions with an enthusiasm and critical analysis often missing in political discussions. (International Herald Tribune)

Preface to "Global Poverty or Global Justice?" (June 2006)

Looking at structures of power and inequality in the world, this preface discusses obstacles to and prospects for achieving global justice. The lack of international democratic processes and institutions greatly impedes global justice, but it conveniently suits the interests of the "present masters of mankind." However, the author argues, great promise lies with the "global justice movement." The author finds encouragement in tendencies such as a growing realization worldwide of neoliberalism's injustices, the increasing ease with which global justice alliances can form, and mounting support for global taxation as a source of funding for development projects. (Transnational Institute)

Development through Globalization? (March 2006)

As globalization has diminished many of the policy options available to poor countries, the United Nations University World Institute for Development and Economics Research (UNU-WIDER) urges governments to rethink their global development strategies. In order to achieve development that improves the quality of life, politicians need to reshape international regulations to balance social progress with economic growth. This "new consensus on development" would eventually help poor countries to make their own political choices while having a say in international decision-making.

Unbridled Capitalism Will Lead to Very Real Problems (April 17, 2006)

In this interview, Harvard economist Kenneth Rogoff warns that the unfair distribution of wealth within most countries will lead to serious social tensions all over the world. As big company profits reach record highs, an ever-smaller percentage of the population gains from high economic growth rates, while most workers see their wages stagnate. As a result, governments could lose public support for policies promoting deregulation of market activities. (Spiegel)

Could Globalization Fail? (April 13, 2006)

As happened with the "first globalization" and its Wall Street Crash of 1929, an economic rather than a political crisis could reverse today's process of globalization. But this time, the crisis is more likely to errupt from global economy's dependence on transnational corporations (TNCs) than from global financial imbalances. While relying highly on the middle-class consuming their goods, TNCs at the same time undermine middle-class people's ability to consume by moving ever more "white-collar" jobs to poorer countries. (Yale Global)

Globalization's Deficit (January 9, 2006)

This article argues that multilateral policy making has run out of "forward momentum." Compared to the last decades of the 20th century, many countries are less eager to concede power to international economic and political institutions. But, this article warns, national policy making cannot sufficiently respond to problems that have global repercussions such as international financial crises and global warming. (Washington Post)



The Mother of All Coalitions (November 29, 2005)

Some researchers argue that while civil society is becoming increasingly global, states remain locked within their borders. The UN reflects the power imbalance between powerful and weak nations, and lacks effective political power. The Organisation for Promoting Global Civilisation proposes to create a World Coalition Parliament, which would hold legislative power, and a World Coalition Government, which would be an executive body. Based on the EU model, this body would replace the UN in addressing global challenges such as poverty, hunger and conflicts. (Inter Press Service)

Making Globalization Work (February 28, 2005)

Turning a blind eye to asymmetries of economic globalization, this Washington Post op-ed piece says the wave of trade liberalization has benefited the world's poor. But the article also draws attention to the fact that political globalization has not kept pace with economic development, and encourages governments to tackle the issue by strengthening global institutions.



Environmentalists Push a New Lever: Globalization (July 6, 2004)

Environmentalists, frustrated by inactivity in US policy, are turning their efforts toward policy making in the EU, "hoping to use regulations there as a lever for regulations in the United States." US corporations are forced to comply with these laws when they are exporting or working abroad. Additionally, such legislation sets international precedent and supports domestic lobbyists' progressive propositions. (International Herald Tribune)



An Indigenous World. How Native Peoples Can Turn Globalization to Their Advantage (November/December, 2003)

Globalization of activism has brought indigenous peoples "powerful allies, a louder voice that can be heard internationally, and increased political influence at home." While acting as a cultural homogenizer, globalization may paradoxically also empower "the poor, the different and the local." (Foreign Policy)

Should Africa Follow EU Model? (September 24, 2003)

Africa needs unity in politics to achieve stability; yet this article argues Africa should not pursue the bureaucratic European model. Instead, the African Union could ensure higher public participation by broad education and information on the benefits and dangers of integration. (Bangkok Post)

The Rise of Netpolitik: How the Internet Is Changing International Politics and Diplomacy (2003)

The Aspen Institute roundtable report credits the internet as a powerful force in modern world politics. The internet empowers and increases the visibility of NGOs, individuals, and many other actors. It changes the existing power structure by offering more people a means to influence others. Also, it creates a global forum where people can communicate and network without the constraints of geographical distance and national borders.



'One World': The Moral and Practical Challenges of Globalization (December 1, 2002)

In his new book, Princeton University professor Peter Singer states, "How well we come through the era of globalization… will depend on how we respond ethically to the idea that we live in one world.'' Among other issues, he argues for increased action to combat poverty and for more effective global governance to enforce environmental and labor laws. (New York Times)

The Walls Have to Come Down (October 4, 2002)

In a speech to the Yale University Center for the Study of Globalization, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan addresses the urgent need for "the globalization of community". (International Herald Tribune)

EU Emphasizes World Summit Role (January 30, 2002)

According to the European Union, international political institutions have failed to match the rapid progress of economic globalization. The approaching World Summit on Sustainable Development provides an opportunity to catch-up. (Business Day, Johannesburg)



High Noon for the Global Economy (March 9, 2001)

Old News: Governments lag behind the pace of globalization. New News: It is utopian to think government can recapture a role that is meant to embody the human purpose.

Bridging the Globalization Gap: Toward Global Parliament (January-February 2001)

It is a fact that there is a need to democratize the international system. However, this article from Foreign Affairs is a mind game on how to go about it.



Governing Globalism (May 3, 2000)

A foreword from the Atlantic Monthly of a new book on globalization written by Anthony Giddens, Director of the London School of Economics.



Globalization Needs a Dose of Democracy (October 5, 1999)

An article from International Herald Tribune contributed by Richard Falk and Andrew Strauss emphasizing democratization considering the increasingly important global dimensions of politics.



Sustainability and Democracy (October 1995)

A conference sponsored by IBASE and WEED, Bonn, October, 1995. Two very original papers question the concept of "sustainability" and propose new understandings.



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