Governance Report

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* Report: The Governance Report 2013. Inge Kaul. Hertie School of Governance / Oxford University Press , 2013



"Dr. Inge Kaul, former director at the UNDP and adjunct faculty member at the Hertie School, defines the sovereignty paradox: “The conventional perception of sovereignty and the maximizing of the national interest presumes independence. But, in policy fields marked by interdependence, such behaviour actually undermines rather than strengthens states´ policy-making capacity. Indeed, the paradox is that states, notably their governments, are losing policy-making sovereignty precisely because they hold on to conventional strategies of realising sovereignty, which make them shy away from international cooperation. If nations want to win back their policy-making capacity, only one path remains: cooperation.”

The maxim for this path is referred to by Kaul as “responsible sovereignty”. Subsequently, a state will exercise its sovereignty with a broad respect for the sovereignty of other nations. The realisation of such a strategy demands global fairness and an active search for positive balance outcomes. Because, notes Kaul, without new multilateral initiatives that really deserve this name, none of the global threats can effectively be confronted.

In her contribution to the Governance Report, Kaul mentions good progress in particular regions, though a real paradigm shift is further away today than a few years ago. “During the first decade of globalisation the possibilities were noted, and we are now in a new phase that, most notably, demonstrates the risk of the cumulative interdependencies. As a reaction to this, states try to use conventional methods to secure political room, and often recognise co-operative approaches as 'sell out of national interests'. In the EU, which has been a lighthouse of trans-national co-operations for a long time, we presently see this very clearly“.

Does the idea of responsible sovereignty have a chance to be implemented in political practice? Inge Kaul allocates a key role to the United Nations: “Despite the stalemate that often paralyses the UN, it is the only place that can advance the debates. Indeed, throughout its history, the UN has often set a heavy hard-to-move stone in motion.”

As a concrete step, Kaul proposes that the UN General Secretary appoints an independent, top-ranking advisory board that is to be entrusted with the formulation of recommendations towards a definition of the new sovereignty concept and its implementation in practice. In a discussion on 5 March at the UN headquarters in New York, the authors of the Governance Report will have the opportunity to present their arguments." (