Governing the World is an outstanding book written by Thomas G. Weiss that illustrates the growing problems in our world and how we must address them. It discusses the idea of global governance, which Weiss defines as “the sum of the informal and formal ideas, values, rules, norms procedures, practices, policies, and institutions that help all actors…identify, understand, and address transboundary challenges that go beyond the problem-solving capacities of individual states” (pg 4). This definition emphasizes the purpose of global governance in our society, but also, more importantly, why it is relevant and why we should care.
Weiss divides his book into five parts that each discuss global governance and how it applies to certain situations. He begins by discussing what global governance means for our world today, providing examples such as industrialization and the reason it is becoming increasingly prevalent in our society. Weiss then goes on to discuss the relationship of state sovereignty to global governance and global governance to the individual—what one person can do to change the world. He then discusses intergovernmental organizations that work and concludes by illustrating the challenges in our world and what we can do to tackle them.
Weiss describes how global governance is already around us by using topics to illustrate its omnipresence, showing its effects in technology, treaties, and in globalization. Stressing the idea of how interdependency has emerged among us and caused us to work closely together, he states that, “the sheer expansion in numbers and importance of non-state actors—civil society (not-for-profit) and market (for-profit) organizations along with transnational networks” (pg 14), are already existing roles of global governance in our society. Weiss proceeds to tackle the idea of state sovereignty, an idea that many states find vital to their existence. He debunks the idea of states acting alone on global issues, citing climate change and economic and technological challenges as examples.
In discussing the role of the community or individual in global governance, Weiss states that “we need not just government treaties but a change in individuals: a sense of solidarity and fairness resulting from disgust with income inequalities and from the need to deal with climate collapse” (pg 59)
From using less water to traveling by bike, Weiss demonstrates how the actions of an individual can have a dramatic effect on the betterment of our planet, but also how one’s action in one part of the world can do good for another person on the other side of the world. From here, Weiss illustrates the weakness of intergovernmental institutions and how we can improve them to address global challenges. However, he also gives examples of global institutions that work. In the end, he stresses the importance of giving these organizations greater autonomy, resources, and power to help govern the world more effectively. In the last part, Weiss describes the path forward in regards to global governance, showing examples of state partnerships and how they solved problems on a global scale.
In sum, Weiss shows the importance of global governance and why it is relevant to our world today. Weiss strengthens his argument by adding countless examples of problems that world is going to have to face in the near future, highlighting how the challenge is far greater than the individual state. Weiss’ book is a well-constructed argument for why we should have institutions that govern the world, illustrating the problems that we encounter, and how we could resolve them.