Joseph Stiglitz and Mary Kaldor (eds.)
The Quest for Security: The Challenge of Global Governance
Prepared by Michael Marien

August 2013



quest-for-security The Quest for Security: Protection Without Protectionism and the Challenge of Global Governance.   Edited by Joseph E. Stiglitz (University Prof and co-chair, Committee on Global Thought, Columbia U) and Mary Kaldor (Prof of Global Governance and director, Human Security Research Unit, London School of Economics).  NY: Columbia U Press, April 2013, 412p, $39.50.



Updated essays from a December 2008 conference at Columbia University on “A Manifesto for a New Global Covenant: Protection without Protectionism.”  The book does not provide any clear manifesto, or any detailed proposals for a “new global covenant.”  Still, the broad-ranging scope, encompassing not only social and economic protection, but protection from violence and environmental protection, clearly suggests fresh and important pathways for a better world.The editors begin by lamenting the many threats that citizens worldwide are now facing.  They note that individuals have always faced risks, but today’s risks are unpredictable, many are global in nature, and they are man-made.  “Globalization has increased the scale and velocity of risk; a problem anywhere in the system can move quickly across borders.” (p.2)  It also has decreased the ability of the nation-state to address these risks by reducing the power of taxation, particularly of capital, which has become more mobile and can move to jurisdictions where it is more favorably treated.  International rules and standards have restricted the freedom of the state to act in ways that might protect its citizens.  Globalization has also eroded the state’s monopoly on violence, often seen as the defining characteristic of a state.

The world has long been globalized in one way or another, but globalization only became “visible” and thus a subject of controversy after the end of the Cold War.  Preoccupation with the East-West conflict and the bipolar order had obscured growing interconnectedness and the prevalence of new and old risks.  After the Cold War, American-style free-market capitalism reigned supreme, and unbridled US military power seemed to assure a Pax Americana.  “That easy world has now been irrevocably disturbed.” (p.4)  The events of 9/11 showed vulnerability, and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have spread insecurity rather than containing it.  America’s economic machine “was shown to be more fragile than even its harshest critics had suggested…  (and) the economic crisis exposed a dysfunctional financial system that enriched itself at the expense of others by predatory lending and by dishonest and anti-competitive practices.” (Kaldor and Stiglitz in Introduction, p.5)

There is no longer confidence in the ability of the US to assure the world of its military security.  In the absence of this security, inward retreat is a concern.  In the economic sphere, a retreat would almost surely entail a high level of protectionism, which will be costly to the very people who have gained from globalization.   In the security sphere, groups of individuals turn to their own devices—the private security company in the gated community, ethnic militias in sectarian conflicts, and drug cartels or the mafia in many global cities.  These private groups can easily turn against and/or exploit the very people they are supposed to protect, and this is increasingly happening.

“There is an alternative path, a reordering of the global economy and society, which entails social protection without protectionism.”  (p.6, italics added)  This is far more than just an economic safety net for those at the very bottom, and it goes far beyond economics.  Local and national responses will never be fully adequate in dealing with global problems, especially the arena of global warming, which affects everyone.  “Today we have a system of global governance without global government—an array of institutions and agreements affecting every aspect of life.” (p.11)  It imperfectly addresses many of the key areas where there is a need for global collective action, although in many areas it has been moving in the right direction.  The “silo-like nature” of global governance in practice inhibits the ability to take systemic perspectives and provides excessive scope for special interests to exercise their influence.  Moreover, there are inadequate enforcement mechanisms.  A global agreement is needed—a global social contract, a new covenant—to provide economic, physical, and environmental protection.

The 15 chapters are assembled in five parts:



Social Protection Without Protectionism by Joseph E. Stiglitz argues that “globalization has enhanced the need for social protection… (but) has often been associated with a decrease in the provision of social protection.” (p.32)  Globalization has imposed burdens on social protection, and weakened the ability and willingness of governments to provide it.  We could provide more security and increase national output by changing macroeconomic, regulatory, and social protection policies to safeguard individuals.  An excessive focus on debt and deficits constrains discretionary fiscal policy, and is misguided from a growth perspective.  “The first and most important aspect of economic security is to maintain the economy at as close to full employment as possible and to protect individuals from what happens when governments fail to achieve that objective.” (p.35).  That, in turn, requites strong built-in stabilizers and active labor market policies.

Scandinavian Equality: A Prime Example of Protection Without Protectionism by Karl Ove Moene (Prof of Economics, U of Oslo) states that equality of opportunity and a system of wage coordination and compression induces more equality of income and new social relations between employers and workers (and between men and women); more equality means more social care and stronger social consciousness (thus Scandinavia has the highest welfare state generosity in the world and virtually no industrial conflict).

Further Considerations on Social Protection by Kemal Dervis (VP, Brookings Institution), Leif Pagrotsky (VP, Central Bank of Sweden), and George Soros (Soros Fund Management and founder, Open Society Institute) comment that 1) we don’t build airplanes to be superefficient, but to seek balance between efficiency and robustness; for society, “there are many ways of constructing robustness and security that will actually improve efficiency and growth in the long run” (Dervis, p.76); 2) the general attitude to globalization in the Nordic countries is very positive, whereas the US and Egypt are the most negative countries toward globalization (Pagrotsky, citing Pew surveys); 3) “market fundamentalism is responsible for the enormous financial crisis and economic crisis that we are currently in…international financial institutions need a new mission to protect the periphery against the financial storm that has originated at the center” (Soros, pp.83, 86). 



Global Security Cooperation in the Twenty-First Century by G. John Ikenberry (Prof of International Affairs, Princeton U) notes that new and decentralized threats lurk around the world and no single “enemy” looms on the horizon: “in effect, the sources of violence and insecurity have shifted and diffused…(as well as) our societal and international understandings of when it means to be safe and secure.” (p.95).  The fundamental driver of change is a profound deepening of security interdependence, and notions of “national” security will have to yield to notions of “comprehensive” and “cooperative” security.  Another major shift is the rise of “informal violence” and privatization of war, with increasingly prominent non-state groups. “Put simply, there are more people in more places around the globe who can matter to American security…(and) the presence of weak or failed states in remote regions of the world matters.” (p.102).  Still another long-term shift is in the norms and ideas about security and national sovereignty, “now increasingly tied to social and economic security and human rights.”  A global strategy of cooperative security must be pursued in five ways: 1) building a stronger protective infrastructure of international capacities; 2) re-establishing American’s alliances for strategic cooperation; 3) reforming global institutions such as the UN that support collective action; 4) shifting the long-term focus of security to global economic development and to building stable and accountable governments worldwide; 5) reestablishing America’s hegemonic legitimacy.

Restructuring Global Security for the Twenty-First Century by Mary Kaldor  asserts that security capabilities largely designed for the Cold War seem incapable of addressing everyday sources of insecurity such as organized crime, environmental degradation, and food shortages, which erodes the legitimacy of our political institutions.  The global security sector needs restructuring away from preoccupation with national and bloc security toward a strengthened global security system addressing human security.  Contemporary forms of organized violence are characterized by civilians as the main victims, the privatization of violence, and the blurring of political violence and organized crime.  “Human security” should be the organizing framework for the new global security narrative because it focuses on protecting civilians from violence and other insecurities: “it is about shifting from a war paradigm to a law paradigm…dealing with violence as crime rather than war, and reestablishing a monopoly of legitimate violence.”  (p.128)  The primary goal is protecting civilians rather than defeating an adversary.  “Human security can only be guaranteed by a rule of law that depends on the existence of legitimate institutions that gain the trust of the population and have some enforcement capacity.” (p.130)  This applies to both physical security and to material security.  An ambitious rethinking of security would rebalance military priorities vs. development and climate change programs, restructure the defense sector away from big systems such as missile defense, strengthen the multilateral system, and promote intensive dialogue between countries about alternative approaches.

Recent Developments in Global Criminal Industries by UK journalist Misha Glenny notes the evolution of global criminal markets involving every country in the world as one of the most striking developments of the past 30 years.  “The existence of offshore banking systems and mechanisms designed specifically to conceal the true origin of taxable income generated by individuals and by companies has proved an invaluable tool in the expansion of global organized crime.”  (p.144; italics added).  The war on drugs continues to inflict immense collateral damage on several key countries, although there is a growing challenge to the drug policy consensus in the US.  Cyercrime is rising, and “a coalition of computer security firms estimated that the direct and indirect economic damage inflicted by cybercriminal activity amounts to $1 trillion” (p.152, italics added; presumably this is an annual cost).  Computer crime, financial fraud, and counterfeit goods are likely to remain major growth industries.



Sharing the Burden of Saving the Planet: Global Social Justice for Sustainable Development.  Lessons from the Theory of Public Finance by Joseph E. Stiglitz begins with the global consensus that strong actions need to be taken on climate change, global warming needs to be addressed globally, global warming is a long-range problem, the costs of reducing GHG emissions will be much lower if done efficiently, there is much uncertainty about the level of tolerable decreases in GHGs, and global warming is a public good problem that brings a risk of free riding (thus there must be some system of credible enforcement).  Standard theories of public finance provide clear formulations about equitable and efficient taxation, and about efficient and equitable ways of controlling an externality-generating activity.  The “key problem” in reaching an agreement on climate change is not the science, but how to share the burden of adjustment, “likely to be large.” (p.171)   A global carbon tax is needed and preferable, or, alternatively, a set of agreed-on emission limits and permits. [See Comment, below]

Designing the Post-Kyoto Climate Regime by Joseph E. Aldy (Asst Prof, Harvard U) and Robert N. Stavins (director, Harvard Environmental Economics Program and Harvard Project on Climate Agreements), the co-authors of Post-Kyoto International Climate Policy (Cambridge UP, 2009) highlight pros and cons of four potential architectures: 1) targets and timetables for evolving emission targets for all countries; 2) harmonized domestic policies (a system of linked international agreements that separately address various sectors and gases, as well as key issues); 3) harmonized domestic taxes on GHG emissions from all sources; 4) coordinated national policies linking national and regional tradable permit systems (proliferation of cap-and-trade systems and emission-reduction-credit systems worldwide had generated pressures to link these systems, which produces cost savings).  This structure may already be evolving.



A Focus on Cities Takes Us Beyond Existing Governance Frameworks by Saskia Sasson (Prof of Sociology and co-chair Committee on Global Thought, Columbia U) notes that “many of today’s major global governance challenges become tangible, urgent, and practical in cities worldwide.”  Urban leaders have had to deal with many issues long before national governments and interstate treaties addressed them, e.g. human insecurity, the spread of violence, a proliferation of racisms, and the sharp rise in economic forms of violence.  Cities are also a frontier space for new types of sustainable energy, construction processes, and infrastructures.  Yet there is a “gaping hole in the current climate change governance framework,” with little or no attention to cities or local governments.  Cities are a source of most of the environmental damage, and of some of the most intractable conditions that feed the damage.  “It is now imperative to make cities and urbanization part of the solution.” (p.246)  We must reorient the material and organizational ecologies of cities to positive interactions with nature’s ecologies.

Violence in the City: Challenges of Global Governance by Sophie Body-Gendrot (former director, Center of Urban Studies, University Paris-Sorbonne; past president, Society of European Criminology) states that “if we are to make cities key spaces for advancing an environmental agenda, then urban violence in its many manifestations becomes urgent.” (p.260)  Cities face three types of security challenges: from terrorist attacks, crime and fear of crime, and civil unrest and protests.  Cities should be on the front lines of promoting change because they have a lot to lose from fear and unexpected attacks, and they have the resources to confront threats and alleviate the erosion of solidarity.  Large cities often take the lead in securing their space and their populations.  Their experience with density and diversity enables potentially antagonistic groups to live side by side.  And new visions of public space can help a city find its own order.

Cities and Conflict Resolution by Tony Travers (Visiting Prof of Government, London School of Economics) suggests that the world’s larger cities might play a role in developing improved thinking in conflict resolution.  Experienced global cities adopt a number of policies to secure good community relations among different groups of residents. They also lead national governments in environmental matters, e.g. the C40 Large Cities Climate Leadership Group, because environmental challenges are so visible in metro areas and because of he generally progressive nature of their leaders.  Although cities are in competition to some extent, they are also collaborative; megacities often have more in common with each other that with other places in their own country.  In sum, “global problems almost always have locally initiated solutions.” (p.286)

Cities and Climate Governance: From Passive Implementers to Active Co-Decision-Makers by Kristine Kern and Arthur P.J. Mol (both Environmental Policy Group, Wageningen U, the Netherlands) notes that a high and increasing proportion of GHG emissions is generated in metro areas, which are also places in which social and technological innovations are generated that help in reducing emissions.  Three types of climate governance are discussed: hierarchical (implementing international legislation), vertical (lobbying and by-passing nation-states), and horizontal (city networking).



Rethinking Global Economic and Social Governance by Jose Antonio Ocampo (Prof of International Affairs, Columbia U; former UN under-secretary-general and Colombia minister of finance) presents a five-point agenda for improving governance structures: 1) a dense network or world, regional, and national institutions (rather than one or a few organizations); 2) equitable participation of developing countries in global governance; 3) overcoming tensions between inclusiveness and existing power structures; 4) promoting coherence, e.g.: create a UN Global Sustainable Development Council; 5) designing effective systems of surveillance and accountability for international commitments, based on highly visible national evaluations and international peer reviews.

The G20 and Global Governance by Ngaire Woods (director, Global Economic Governance Program and dean, School of Government, U of Oxford) describes formation of the G20 in 1999 as a more inclusive and representative forum for informal dialogue, consensus-building in crisis management and debt restructuring, financial regulation, agenda-setting, and policy coordination.  Expanding the G20 would give it legitimacy and enhance its responsiveness.

Transforming Global Governance?  Structural Deficits and Recent Developments in Security and Finance by David Held (Prof of Politics, Durham U; editor, Global Policy) and Kevin Young (Asst Prof of Pol Sci, UMass-Amherst) observes that both security and finance are inadequate in their global governance arrangements; this deficit looms large, given the increasing extent and intensity of global risks.  The way we conduct and organize military spending ($1.5 trillion in 2009), based on a model of nation-states at war with each other, looks increasingly anachronistic.  Institutional fragmentation persists in the security domain, with “vast duplication, overlap, and waste of resources.” (p.370)  Spending levels in the US and UK are far in excess of any plausible defensive needs.  Insofar as global financial governance (“an area notoriously difficult to effectively regulate”), new emergent problems are increasingly recognized but not systematically addressed.  It is increasingly noted that financial regulation should be seen through the prism of “macroprudentialism,” or understanding and regulating the banking system as a coherent and changing whole, which cannot be done exclusively at the national level.  A second and harder financial problem is managing structural imbalances of current account deficits and surpluses.



 Despite their origins in a 2008 conference, these 15 updated essays by world-class scholars are very timely and important in rethinking security, social protection, and sustainable development, with an emphasis on the leadership role of cities and emerging global governance mechanisms.   Time spent in digesting these ideas will be well-invested!

 The only critical comment is in regard to Chapter 7 by Joseph Stiglitz, on “Sharing the Burden of Saving the Planet” from global warming.  The “key problem,” Stiglitz states with great clarity, is not the science, but how to share the burden of adjustment, “which is likely to be large.” (p.171)  However, the burden does not seem likely to be very large—if a burden at all, except in the short term—if one looks thoroughly at the “co-benefits” of climate policy.  In The Climate Bonus: Co-benefits of Climate Policy (Earthscan/Routledge, Jan 2013, 408p; GFB Book of the Month, May 2013), UK environmental consultant Alison Smith  identifies 37 overlapping and reinforcing co-benefits in six major categories: cleaner air, greener land, safe and secure energy, less waste, stronger economy, and improved lifestyle.  The problem is in getting this positive but complex view into policy considerations.  Perhaps it is the “key” problem, far more than the one that Stiglitz identifies.


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