Robert I. Rotberg leads a research workshop on global governance at the CIGI Campus, June 19-20, 2013. (Lisa Malleck/CIGI)
Robert I. Rotberg leads a research workshop on global governance at the CIGI Campus, June 19-20, 2013. (Lisa Malleck/CIGI)

What is meant by governance — and more specifically, what is meant by “global” governance and “good” governance at the national and international level? Recently at the CIGI Campus, experts gathered to discuss these questions and how policy makers can innovate through governance indictors. We speak to global governance expert Robert I. Rotberg to learn more.

CIGI: Robert, you currently lead a CIGI Global Security project entitled “Measuring Governance Effectiveness: National and International Dimensions.” Based on your initial workshop, what role does the concept of global governance have in international affairs — is there consensus on the term and the issues captured by it? How do you measure good global governance?

Robert I. Rotberg: Global governance is essentially the management of global affairs in the most effective way, but at these meetings that took place last week there wasn’t a consensus on what it meant. It was agreed that we should strive to develop a definition that everyone will accept. What we have to do is define who the user is because at the national governance level, it’s the citizen. At the global level, humanity was the best notion we could come up with, but we will have to refine what we mean by humanity. Nothing currently exists to measure good global governance, so one of the tasks of this project is to create instruments able to measure the good and bad of global governance.

CIGI: Can a national indicator, such as level of democracy, serve as a measure for good global governance?

Rotberg: Probably not, because at the global level we’re not talking about spreading democracy, we’re talking about spreading regimes of anti-piracy or spreading non-conflict over the Arctic. Together, civil society and governments need to develop a strong measure (democracy is not strong enough) capable of calibrating good global governance. Perhaps “peace” as an outcome could be one such measure in the global conflict arena.  Another might be improved life expectancies or the availability of clean water in the category of good governance for the health needs of humanity.

CIGI: Given your expertise in development, leadership, corruption and conflict in Africa, how does the concept of global governance factor into regional relations, foreign direct investment and national development within the continent?

Rotberg: I think it’s easier to support African countries and their endeavors and to improve and deliver better services to their people if we can measure governance at the national level. We have demonstrated that already and we can continue to refine our measurement instruments. In terms of global governance, we have to devise an instrument for measuring United Nations and regional organization initiatives. Doing so is much more complicated because the end user has to be specified in each case. We also have to specify appropriate or beneficial outcomes.

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