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and (‘Bruegel on the G20’, 2012). However, others (like, for example, Khanna, 2011) suggest that the solution of problems by those who have command over the necessary resources is more important than bothering with the more messy and perhaps more time-consuming process of consultation and participatory decision-making. Or, consider the clash between the norm of sovereignty and that of openness. Some countries, especially developing countries that are still in the process of building up their national policymaking capacity so that they can actually exercise their right to national selfdetermination in a meaningful way, tend to be wary about requests for cross-border policy harmonization, especially if this implies that developing countries have to adjust to the norms and standards of industrial countries. Most recently, even the countries that in earlier years were among the sternest supporters of globalization appear to be rethinking policies of economic openness now that more and more developing countries are emerging as strong competitors in international markets (Rodrik, 2011).

So, whereas some prefer to hold on, or revert, to the conventional, stricter notion of sovereignty, other reform ideas suggest a qualified notion of sovereignty. The norm of the responsibility to protect is an example. As set forth in the outcome document of the 2005 World Summit of Heads of State and Government, it stipulates that the international community has the responsibility to intervene where states fail to protect people within their jurisdiction against mass atrocities like genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity (UN. General Assembly, 2005). 17 An even broader notion of responsible sovereignty calls for enhanced cross-border externality management by both industrial and developing countries so that the exercise of one country’s sovereignty does not infringe on the sovereignty of other countries (see, for example, Jones et al., 2009; Kaul, 2010, 2011). For example, cooperation in strengthening financial norms and standards in order to prevent or, should they erupt, better manage financial crises could be part of such a move toward responsibly exercising sovereignty.

Additionally, calls for more national policy space and country-specific policy paths are pitted against calls for more binding multilateral decisions, more monitoring, and more reporting by states, and this, at times, in the same policy statement. Thus, the 2011 Cancun meeting on climate change advocated a more bottom-up strategy coupled with self-reporting by states on the measures they take with respect to mitigating climate change (see Stavins, 2010; UNFCC, 2010). Similarly, the G-20 relaxed some of its earlier calls for international financial and monetary cooperation but now also expects governments to self-report on the national corrective steps they take, as well as to jointly review progress in terms of maintaining current account imbalances at sustainable levels (G-20, 2011).

Steps such as these reflect policy struggles between states and markets as well as hesitance on the part of states to move towards a greater pooling of sovereignty.

Another balancing act ongoing in many issue areas concerns the challenge of how to have both: the privateness of a good and its publicness. This struggle is quite evident in the field of knowledge management, specifically in the policy debates on how to combine the agreement on Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) with goals like fostering global poverty reduction. One relevant question is how to enhance pharmaceutical product availability to the poor, or, put differently, how to foster innovation and dynamic efficiency, the goal of TRIPs, alongside enhanced static efficiency, which is a critical ingredient of more broad-based development. Change in this field has, despite many obstacles, moved beyond the stage of debates to the testing of innovative proposals, including the instruments of advanced purchase commitments (Kremer et al., 2005) and differential patenting (Lanjouw, 2001). The concern about fostering a globally beneficial balance between dynamic and static efficiency also underpins the creation of the Green Climate Fund, mandated to facilitate, among The emergence of the principle to protect within the UN context was facilitated by the work of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS). For the Commission’s report, see ICISS (2001).

–  –  –

other things, increased international cooperation for both mitigation of and adaptation to climate change (UNFCCC, 2010). But, as the current debates in the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) show, answers to this question of what would be a desirable balance between static and dynamic efficiency are still far from consensus (see, for example, the news and debates presented on IP watch, 2012).

Deliberations within the WTO context also reflect some of the still unresolved tensions, not to mention the conflicts that exist between various GPGs – e.g. between free trade, on the one hand, and, on the other, goals like environmental sustainability, food security, health, financial stability, and, one might also add, peace and security. These tensions are of course coupled with the question of what next for global governance and the multilateral trading system (many of the above-mentioned issues figure on the agenda of the ‘WTO Public Forum 2011’, 2011).

As regards organizational frictions, a large number of single-issue international cooperation mechanisms have emerged in recent years (Conceição, 2006), introducing a more integrated, multisector, and public-private approach to the management of GPG provision. However, the conventional foreign aid community – accustomed to a more country-oriented approach to operational international cooperation – tends to be quite critical of these new delivery mechanisms (Reisen, 2010).

In Sum: A Policy Equilibrium Waiting to Be Punctuated The above list could be lengthened much further, because the current global crises have given rise to innumerous studies, new ideas, and policy proposals. However, as the foregoing examples show, for the most part the reform measures imply incremental change; and many end up in policy stalemates with proponents and opponents weighing in equally vocally and blocking the measures from moving forward. Nevertheless, pressures for change appear to be multiplying.


Explaining Underprovision in its Historical Context The aim of this chapter has been to suggest, for further study and debate, conjectures about the possible causes of today’s underprovision of GPGs. Based on the theories and the evidence considered, it appears that at present underprovision is severe, partly because the world is going through major economic and political transformations, having to accomplish a change in its growth and development paradigm while also adjusting to global power shifts. At the same time, it also needs to rebalance market/state relations and, last but not least, find a way of combining openness and sovereignty.

In fact, GPGs, being drivers and consequences of greater economic openness, are at the centre of these transformations, notably the issue of openness and sovereignty. Decisions on their provision may thus be held up by the uncertainty, opposition, and conflict that accompany the ongoing debates about the basic economic and political parameters. These transformational factors, the chapter has argued, could presently exacerbate problems of underprovision that would even occur under more settled conditions, including collective-action problems like free-riding.

Indeed, free-riding in the presence of GPGs could be even more pronounced than in other publicgood situations, because GPGs depend for their provision on two markets: economic markets and political markets. The latter refers to the international negotiation venues in which states are also individual actors tempted to pursue national, particularistic goals that may not necessarily fully overlap with global goals.

Global Public Goods: Explaining their Underprovision

Clearly, the provision of GPGs is being shaped by factors that will always be relevant like the publicness of the goods, but it is also being shaped by highly context-specific factors, conditions that are important now but whose impact will change over time.

But, how fast are current policymaking realities likely to change? Are we left to face an accelerating downward spiral of global crises before the current reform backlog is finally tackled? Or, does the analysis in this chapter point to possible, more orderly ways of breaking the current political stand-offs so that the now-stalled issues could move forward and global growth and development return to more stable, sustainable paths? In fact, it does.

Re-examining Table 1 from this perspective, it seems that the current provision constraint that will likely come under ever-more pressure to evolve is the global pattern of decision-making on global issues, or put differently, the global governance system. Consider, in addition to the emergence of new state powers like Brazil, China, and India, the visible trend towards increased economic and political regionalism, the growth of world-wide social and political networks, the Arab Spring movements, and the demands for strengthened political legitimacy and accountability in the older democracies, and it appears that all these forces seem to be moving towards more publicness in decision-making, driven by a sense of a lack of publicness in utility. These forces could enhance national governments’ motivation to engage in more effective international cooperation and pursue smart-power strategies, lest they – and indeed they would – lose more and more policymaking control. To the extent that this happens, it would also become more evident in practical political terms that under conditions of economic openness, states do not lose sovereignty when engaging voluntarily in international cooperation that makes economic and political sense. To the contrary, they can maintain and regain decision-making power.

So, the conventional powers’ willingness might strengthen and create more room at international decision-making tables such that the voices of all concerned can be heard more effectively and taken into account in structuring international agreements and bargains. This could, in turn, rekindle the willingness of the newly emerging powers to share the costs of international cooperation by undertaking even more requisite national reform steps and to deepen their engagement in joint, international-level endeavours. As a result, a new, more bottom-up, open, and participatory era of globalization could be dawning – an era that might indeed see progress on some of the now contested, “sticky” global issues, be they in the area of the environment, trade, finance, health, global poverty, or peace and security.

This also suggests that we might, in retrospect, consider the current political stalemates as a productive phase: perhaps by fostering an examination of the pros and cons of various technology choices, policy approaches, and instruments, they are preventing us from getting locked into decisions that may later prove infeasible or undesirable. A certain amount of international relations and global decision-making ‘messiness’ could well prove, in the medium and longer-term, to be the more efficient policy path because it might broaden and deepen the political consensus on which change initiatives rest.

Inge Kaul

References Albin, C. (2003) Getting to fairness: negotiations over global public goods. Providing Global Public Goods. Managing Globalization. New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press, S. 263–279.

Axelrod, R. (1984) The Evolution of Cooperation. New York: Basic Books.

Bandura, R. (forthcoming) Composite Indicators and Rankings.

Barrett, S. (2007) Why cooperate?: the incentive to supply global public goods. New York: Oxford University Press.

Bhagwati, J. (2011) Life without Doha. Project Syndicate [online]. Available from:


Brock, W. A. (2006) 'Tipping Points, Abrupt Changes; and Punctuated Policy Change', in Robert C.

Repetto (ed.) Punctuated equilibrium and the dynamics of U.S. environmental policy. Yale University Press. pp. 47–77.

Bruegel on the G20, (2012) [online]. Available from: http://www.bruegel.org/g20-monitor/ (Accessed 10 May 2012).

Conceição & Mendoza (2006) 'Identifying High-Return Investments; A Methodology for Assessing When International Cooperation Pays—And for Whom', in Inge Kaul & Pedro Conceição (eds.) The new public finance: responding to global challenges. New York: Oxford University Press. pp.


Conceição, P. (2006) 'Accommodating New Actors and New Purposes in International Cooperation:

The Growing Diversification of Financing Mechanisms', in Inge Kaul & Pedro Conceição (eds.) The new public finance: responding to global challenges. Oxford University Press.

Eisenack, Klaus et al. (2010) Energy Taxes, Resource Taxes And Quantity Rationing For Climate Protection 120.

Furubotn, E. G. & Richter, R. (2000) Institutions and economic theory: the contribution of the new institutional economics. University of Michigan Press.

Furubotn, E. G. & Richter, R. (2003) Institutions and economic theory: the contribution of the new institutional economics. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

G-20 (2011) Meeting of Finance Ministers and Central bank Governors, Washington DC, final communiqué. [online]. Available from: http://www.g8-g20.com/g8-g20/g20/english/for-thepress/news-releases/meeting-of-finance-ministers-and-central-bank.1104.html (Accessed 10 May 2012).

Hardin, R. (1982) Collective action. Washington: Resources for the Future.

Helleiner, E. et al. (eds.) (2010) Global finance in crisis: the politics of international regulatory change. Taylor & Francis.

Howse, R. & Teitel, R. (2010) Beyond Compliance: Rethinking Why International Law Really Matters. Global Policy. [Online] 1 (2), 127–136.

ICISS (2001) The responsibility to protect. International Development Research Centre Ottawa.

IP watch (2012) Intellectual Property Watch [online]. Available from: http://www.ip-watch.org/ (Accessed 11 May 2012).

Global Public Goods: Explaining their Underprovision

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