Is Global Governance the new Anarchy?

For much of the international relations field’s existence, the most dominant concept has always been anarchy. This concept of chaos, lawlessness and the absence of an authority in the international stage has prompted scholars to research timely international political events with anarchy as the backdrop or the condition. Post-World War I, scholars were more interested in understanding how to maintain peace in an anarchic world. In From International Relations to Global Society, Barnett and Sikkink (2008) also noted the constantly changing focus of researches all throughout the twentieth century while maintaining anarchy as the condition. Thing is that the attention of IR scholars was mostly devoted to these particular topics that other increasingly important ones were neglected. However, the attempt of scholars to venture outside the box of state-centrism, the desire to “unpack anarchy” and go beyond the “territorial trap” in the 80s has totally changed the landscape of international relations as new concepts, ideas, IR actors have emerged in the picture.

The rise of these new factors that shape our current global society has started to challenge the use of anarchy as a narrative in explaining the events happening in the world stage. The fact that realism is unable to explain the colossal changes in both the first and twentieth centuries (end of Cold War, formation of the European Union, and proliferation of international organizations among others) prompted several IR scholars to conclude the obsolescence of anarchy. Is the world veering away from anarchy and is it headed towards global governance? Are all IR actors willing to work together to maintain world order and achieve their collective goals? Has the world grown weary of wars and conflicts that they are now willing to compromise even their sovereignties such as nations in the European Union just promote peace, order and prosperity? One of the reasons why cooperation in anarchy is “desirable but difficult” is because of a history of lack of trust not only among states but other non-state actors as well. But in these times where cooperation seems like the new ‘it,’ has global governance stolen the limelight from anarchy?

That would be ideal, in my own opinion, to have a world without the chaos and wars and conflicts. However, I don’t think everyone is ready for this kind of world yet. I can see though that states today are more willing to cooperate because they now understand that we do not live in a limitless space and that there’s no a more recognition of the rights of human beings.  The unprecedented changes in the realm of global society have transformed international relations as a field of study. From anarchy, there’s an apparent shift towards the governance of the global society among scholars and it’s looking quite promising. The scope of the field is now wider than ever and a lot of studies and researches still need to be carried out to understand more the dynamics of the global society. Hopefully, the new advancements in the field will bring us closer to the ultimate goal of changing the world we have today for the better.


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