Libya, intervention and the need for global governance

By John Bunzl, Simpol founder


As we sit by and watch as many Libyans and others in North Africa and the Middle East die or suffer at the hands of autocratic governments, it’s painful not to be able to offer them practical support; it’s painful to have to watch helplessly as they’re murdered in the streets. To avoid being charged as intervening ‘imperialists’ other governments and the UN are reduced to communiques denouncing violence – and we, the people, must stand by and watch while our fellow humans are slaughtered.

This situation, we should realise, is only to be expected. It is entirely inherent in a world which, although it increasingly espouses world-centric values – values such as human rights and democracy – is still inextricably stuck in a nation-centric world of national governments; a world, that is, which because it possesses no form of essentially democratic global governance, of course has no politcal legitimacy able to justify intervention in places like Libya.

This shows that world-centric values can never be made a practical reality all the while the world fails to develop a form of essentially democratic – and therefore politically legitimate – global governance. Rather than stand by feeling guilty at our impotence, then, shouldn’t we be channelling our outrage into the positive aim of achieving global cooperation and governance?

For the struggle of our Arab brothers and sisters is, if only we would realise it, our own struggle too. Because just as they struggle to throw off the bonds of paternalistic autocracies which no longer work, we too are stifled under the weight of a democracy which, because of the ability of capital and corporations to move their operations across national borders, also no longer has any meaning.

For as long as governments fail to cooperate globally, they must compete nationally; and that means each government, regardless of the party in power, has no choice but to implement only those policies which attract globally mobile corporations and investors and, by the same token, weaken society and the environment. Little wonder, then, that whoever is in power, the policies delivered remain substantially the same and our votes count for little.

But is this the kind of democracy we really want? Is this pathetic, hollowed out pseudo-democracy what we want for ourselves or, for that matter, for our Arab brothers and sisters? For if we in relatively free countries fail to achieve democratic global governance, pseudo-democratic national governance is what we – and they – will be left with. Don’t they – and we – deserve better? Don’t we all deserve the real thing?

Global governance, we should be aware then, is the route to actualising world-centric values, so providing the necessary politial legitimacy to allow intervention in places like Libya. Equally however, it is the route to restoring our democratic ability to change the disastrous course our own western – and indeed all nations – are on.

With the opportunity Simpol gives us to bring about an essentially democratic form of global governance by using our nationally valid votes in a new, transcendant and powerful way, what are we waiting for?

Simpol – please spread the word.


2 thoughts on “Libya, intervention and the need for global governance

  1. John,
    I appreciate the clarity regarding the motivations for the international response on Libya, which has been ramped up in recent days with the no-fly zone and naval blockade. While the intervention was legitimized by a UN Security Council Resolution, it was initially enforced by independent states acting together (France, Britain and the U.S.) it was only later that NATO took control of the embargo and no-fly zone. Clearly then, individual states stepped up to the plate before any international body did more that simply write “communiques denouncing violence”. In the next Simpol newsletter, I suggested that perhaps a Simpol policy centering on when and how to intervene in cases of genocide and indiscriminate cases of government violence could, should occur. Of course, were such events to happen in a country with a large, modernized military, such a trigger mechanisms wold need to be carefully drafted to avoid isolated events turning into a global conflict. Again, a global layers of governance, not more intergovernmentalism is needed.

    • Hi Rob,

      As I said to you before, I like the idea of such a policy and look forward to reading and considering it when you have worked it up. 🙂


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