Pascal Lamy calls for ‘Declaration of Global Rights’

09 March 2012

A ‘Declaration of Global Rights and Responsibilities’ is required before global governance can succeed said Director General of the World Trade Organization, Pascal Lamy, at an Oxford Martin School event on Thursday.

Calling for a platform of common values, which would be shared “not only by the ‘West’, but with the ‘rest’”, Lamy empahsised the need for basic agreement between nation states on a strong set of core principles to underpin all discussions on global public goods. Drawing on the basics of chemistry, Lamy argued the challenge with global governance today is to try to move from its current “gaseous state”, to become a more “solid structure”.

Speaking at an Oxford Martin School Distinguished Public Lecture, introduced by the Chancellor of the University of Oxford, Lord Patten of Barnes, Lamy outlined the increasingly interconnected nature of our world where challenges have become truly global but governance remains largely local. This discrepancy, between the reality of today's interdependence and the capacity of governments to agree politically on how to deal with increasing challenges, is striking he said.

Leadership, efficiency, coherence and legitimacy were highlighted as the key challenges facing global governance today, but Lamy remains confident of bridging the governance deficit. He outlined his firm conviction that future global governance will be led by a ‘triangle of coherence’, made up of:

  • the G20 (to provide political leadership and policy direction)
  • the United Nations, (to provide a framework for global legitimacy through accountability)
  • member-driven organizations providing expertise and specialised inputs such as rules, policies and programmes.

Regional integration processes are vital to the success of global governance, said Lamy, representing an essential intermediate step between the national and global level. “Regional integration allows us to address the questions of our time at a level where the feeling of belonging, of togetherness is more solid. Central America, Eastern Africa or the ASEAN are good examples of this”, added Lamy

Lamy suggests that we can learn a lot from Europe’s attempts to cope with global governance, highlighting its successes in promoting the primacy of EU law over national law. However, competition between the European Commission and the European Council has blurred the coherence and therefore the success of its leadership he said. As declining numbers participate in elections to the European Parliament, legitimacy has also become a real problem for Europe which “continues to be seen as distant, far away from the everyday lives and concerns of citizens.”

Concluding his presentation, Lamy announced that, “the solution is not to globalize local problems; it is to localize global problems…. This requires strong leadership, not only at the international level, but above all at the national level.”