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Global Civil Society and International Law in Global Governance: Some Contemporary Issues

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This article examines current academic knowledge regarding the international relations and political science concept of 'global governance' as it has emerged in international law scholarship. The notion of 'global governance' encompasses the broad realm of political interaction aimed at global problem-solving. It includes the United Nations system, its organs and agencies, and the public and private legal institutions, regimes and networks governing relations among states and other actors across state borders. Its value in contemporary discourse lies in the need for a concept broader than 'international law' that encompasses the multitude of legal and non-binding regulatory mechanisms currently existing beyond the national domain. The contemporary idea also incorporates the phenomenon of 'global civil society,' but it repudiates global 'government.' Instead, the discourse focuses on role of democracy in global governance.

Part One commences with an exploration of the meaning of 'global governance' and of the contemporary framework of global governance. The second section then situates the emerging concept of 'global civil society' and international law within the global governance framework and distinguishes global governance from global 'government.' The third section then explores globalisation and its various effects on global governance. Part Two first examines the philosophical origins of the idea of civil society, then looks at the historical evolution of the role of civil society actors in global governance, and finally investigates contemporary meanings of the terms 'civil society,' 'global civil society,' 'civil society organizations' and 'nongovernmental organization' (NGO).


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