The Uniting of Nations: An Essay on Global Governance (3rd ed. revised and updated)
P.I.E. Peter Lang
Review by Ronald Glossop, October 27, 2011
The Uniting of Nations argues for the need for a governed world community and uses the European Union as a model for how that can be accomplished. One must start with small steps and proceed gradually in such a way that national governments will want to join to gain something specific for themselves. The European Union would be the nucleus and other countries could join this global political union separately, but they would then be required to work together to form their own regional organizations. Thus eventually there would be a world federation made up of regional federations, one of which would be the European Union which initiated the new global organization.
McClintock begins the book with a summary for those "who do not have time to read the whole essay" (p. 17). The world faces many problems, problems which no country by itself can solve and which can only get worse. The only way forward is for countries to work together. Europe is a region of the world demonstrating how nations can share sovereignty in order to improve both their national welfare and the welfare of the whole group. "What Europe has done, the world needs to do. This essay explains how" (p. 18)
The many current global problems not being handled shows that "the present system of global governance is dysfunctional" (p. 18). The basic problem is the lack of a sovereign governing body for the whole global community which can make and enforce laws as sovereign national governments do within countries. Just as citizens share sovereignty in order to establish a governing body within their nations, so national governments need to share sovereignty in order to establish a governing body at the global level. The European Union is a good example of a governing body over nations which has both sovereign powers and political legitimacy. On the other hand, the U.N.'s Security Council has impressive powers on paper but not in the real world. The U.N. Security Council also lacks political legitimacy because 5 countries are permanent members with a veto power while at any one time only 7% of the 193 countries are represented at all.
The global community must do two things: assist the failing nation-states and "bring into being a governing body which can act effectively at the global level" (p.23). But the first task itself requires "a system of global governance that works" (p. 24) and the rules set down in the U.N.Charter are such that the Security Council can never be reformed. "Something new needs to be created" (p. 25). This new global organization could be initiated by "the European Union and around half-a-dozen or so pioneer states" (p. 26).
As was done in Europe the new global governance community could start with a few countries focused on a single problem like food security (p. 27) and then "a community for climate, energy, and prosperity" (p. 28). As the European Community was furthered by the Zeitgeist of a united Europe, so the current Zeitgeist of globalism can support the creation of a Global Union. Perhaps future historians will see the European Union as an experiment in sharing sovereignty by states that could be followed by the whole world.
Having given the overall thesis, McClintock turns to the details. The global threats not being handled by the current global governance system are "War and Conflict," "Acts of Terrorism," "Nuclear Weapons," "Depletion of Natural Resources," "Instability in the Domain of International Finance," "The Outsourcing of Jobs," "Migration," "Indebted Countries," "The Violation of Human Rights," "Climate Change," "The Concentration of Corporate Power," and "Pandemics." McClintock documents each of these problems and how the existing global system is not dealing with them. International organizations exist but they "are not in a position to make and enforce law" (p. 74). They do not possess sovereign powers (which is what Hobbes noted a government must have) and they don't have political legitimacy (which Rousseau & Locke noted that a government must have).
In chapter 3 McClintock focuses on the problem of failing states and asks what is necessary for a state to succeed as a state. The two pre-conditions for success are a sense of national unity and a benign international environment (pp. 84-85). He gives a detailed account of the history of Sierra Leone and a brief reference to India in order to substantiate his view. Chapter 4 gives a history of the European Union emphazing its successes while chapter 5 gives a history of the U.N. recognizing its successes but emphasizing its shortcomings. Chapter 6 argues that the European Union is a better and more legitimate governing body than the U.N. Security Council. Chapter 7 titled "A World of Chronic Anarchy" marks the culmination of McClinton's thesis that the basic cause of our global mess is "the fact that the behaviour of states is unregulated" p. 159.
Part II. "What Are the Options?" has only one chapter, chapter 8. The options he considers & rejects are (1) reforming the Security Council, (2) expanding the European Union to include all countries, (3) merging existing regional organizations, (4) expanding the G-8 or NATO or The Commonwealth of Nations or The Non-Aligned Movement or The Conference of Democracies to include all nations, (5) getting the United States to become an enlightened global hegemon, and (8) strengthening the role of international law (p. 172). McClintock then concludes "that if the world is going to avail itself of a governing body that can be effective, it has no choice but to create such a body" (p. 186). His specific proposals on how to do that, following the example of the European Union, are set forth in Part III (chapters 9-14).
Chapter 9 is a general discussion of the new global organization that would put forward technical solutions that would be "politically acceptable to all the parties concerned" (p. 189). The principles to be followed are gradualism, inclusivity, voluntary membership, membership availability to all nations which could share sovereigny in the relevant area, do no harm to states outside the community, and all states would be required to gather into regions so that the global community would have "at most 15 to 25 members-one member for every region in the world" (p. 193). Nations could originally join individually but would have to join with other nations in the same region to form a single regional organization. The global community as a whole would have 3 institutions (a legislature, a judiciary, and an executive) plus other organs. It would seek good relations with all countries which aren't yet members, but could as a last resort take tough measures such as suspending trade and cooperation. In chapter 12 McClintock lays out a food security plan which might be the first practical project for the global community. In chapter 13 he describes a second project, "a community for climate, energy, and prosperity" (p. 189).
Despite the great contribution this book makes to thinking about global governance, it is not without deficiencies. No mention is made of the role of NGOs or of the International Criminal Court or the language problem facing Europe and the global community. Even though McClinton is arguing for the need for a world federation, he says nothing about the arguments of other well-known advocates of world federalism such as Alexander Hamilton. From a world federalist point of view it is surprising that there is nothing about the difference between a confederation and a federation although that distinction is at the very core of McClintock's main thesis about the need for a more effective global organization. But McClintock does successfully address what has been a huge issue for world federalists, namely, how do we begin to move forward from where we are now?