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A global government

By Dino Cesta - posted Wednesday, 22 April 2009

The global financial and economic crisis of the 21st century has exposed the weaknesses of sovereign nation-states and broader international political, economic, social and political structures within which we live, and the fragilities in the fabric of our society in confronting the diversity of challenges of the modern age.

Among a myriad of interconnected challenges, these weaknesses and fragilities have been clearly evidenced, leading up to the G20 London Summit, in the dislocated global response to the crisis, and a world endeavouring to grapple with the ticking time-bomb of climate change.

These, and other global upheavals in contemporary times, require a re-evaluation of the sovereign nation-state as a model of enduring relevancy in the 21st century and beyond, and whether the concept of the sovereign nation-state requires a transformation to better adapt to a more globalised and intertwined world as a means to more effectively confront humankind’s challenges.


This re-evaluation extends to debating the merits of establishing a “global government” or a more rigorous global governance framework to deal with the current and future factors of global disorder compared to that of the 19th century sovereign nation-state model.

The idea of a “global government” has existed since ancient times, when the renowned Classical Greek philosopher Socrates showed foresight when he exclaimed “I am not an Athenian, or a Greek, but a citizen of the World”. Since that time, the idea of formulating a model for the establishment of a “global government” has perpetuated throughout the history of human civilisation.

Particularly over the past several decades, the advent and increased influence of globalisation has intensified tensions between nationalism and internationalism in a diverse range of policy fields, in which national interests are not always best served by committing or adhering to international law, treaties, conventions, or universal consensus policy positions.

Within Australia under the former Howard government, these tensions were reflected in such issues as the asylum laws, the environment, and the war on Iraq. For example, the Howard Government’s policy towards the detention of refugees and asylum seekers was based on the premise of protecting Australian borders and national sovereignty, but which arguably, for instance, conflicted with international human rights principles.

Similarly, the Howard government’s - and others’ (such as the former US Bush Administration) - refusal to sign up for the international Kyoto protocol on greenhouse gas emissions was based on a nationalistic premise that the benefits of international co-operation on the environment would be inadequate to nullify the economic and social costs, including jobs impacts, within their national borders.

Further, Australia’s participation in the war on Iraq with other “Coalition of the Willing” countries ignored international law, treaties and conventions by breaching the United Nations Charter by the use of military force against a sovereign state without United Nations Security Council consent.


More recently, the financial and economic upheaval experienced on an international scale has clearly demonstrated and reinforced the necessity in having a more coherent and rigorous global approach in confronting challenges that go beyond national borders.

Prior to the G20’s April London Summit, endeavours have been made by national governments individually, and via such forums as the G7, International Monetary Fund, World Bank and the European Union, to confront and implement policy responses targeting the global financial and economic crisis. However, to date, these endeavours - by such means as fiscal stimulatory measures and monetary policy responses - have appeared an incoherent attempt to contain and effectively guide national economies through the crisis.

The G20 London Summit did offer some hope for a more synchronised and integrated global solution to this crisis, initiating more robust regulatory and governance reforms to the international financial system to ensure greater transparency, sustainability and accountability, and the foundation for a more prosperous, equitable and stable global economy in the future.

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About the Author

Dino Cesta is a freelance communicator of thoughts, opinions and ideas on politics, economic and social issues and public policy. Cofounder of the non-profit organisation Hand in Hand Arthouse, and the Newcastle Italian Film Festival, Dino graduated with a Bachelor of Economics and Master of Politics and Public Policy. You can follow Dino on View from the Obelisk or Twitter on @dinoc888

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