This document, written by Kevin Ahern/IMCS for the CIDSE Working Group on Global Governance, summarizes the reflections of the CIDSE–Caritas Internationalis Background Paper: “Working Towards Progressive Global Governance” published in April 2004. The Working Group would like to thank Fr. Pete Henriot/Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection and Lorna Gold/Trócaire for their valuable inputs as well as Secours Catholique/Caritas France, Pax Romana and ALBOAN for contributing to the French and Spanish translations.

 Introduction and background


For the last few years, global governance has been an important cross-cutting issue in the advocacy work of CIDSE and Caritas Internationalis (CI). This booklet summarizes the reflections contained in the paper ‘Working Towards Progressive Global Governance1’ (2004). One of the main goals of the paper was to identify the basic values and principles of Global Governance based on Catholic Social Teaching which informs CIDSE and CI’s advocacy on global governance. In its turn, this booklet seeks to outline the most important features of the paper in order to raise greater awareness on the important issues surrounding global governance.


The present global context

• We live in a world marked by gross inequalities between nations and their peoples in terms of power, wealth, income and social well-being: “One-fifth of humanity live in countries where many people think nothing of spending $2 a day on a cappuccino. Another fifth of humanity (1 billion people) survive on less than $1 a day and live in countries where children die for want of a simple anti-mosquito bed-net.”

• Almost half of the world’s population, that is to say 2.5 billion people, have to survive on less than $2 a day. In many developing countries the fight against poverty is being lost or suffering setbacks making it unlikely that we will achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) before the target dates.

• In 2005 our world was home to over 34 wars and violent conflicts, of which more than half were in Africa. Over 20.8 million people are currently internally displaced because of these conflicts and other human rights violations.

• Global warming, a consequence of human activities and consumption patterns is having a significant impact on our world. It is likely to lead to reduce crop yields in most tropical and sub-tropical countries, and is widely held to be responsible for the increasing number of “extreme weather events”.

.• There are 40.3 million people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, 25.8 million of them in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2005 alone, the pandemic claimed 3.1 million lives with 4.9 million new infections.

• In many places in the world, women and children continue to die from preventable causes and a lack of access to basic medical care. For example, 11 million children every year die before their 5th birthday and 530,000 women die each year in pregnancy or childbirth.

• Since the attacks of 11 September 2001 and the war in Iraq in 2003, the ‘war against terror’ has added a new and urgent dimension to the politics of globalization. Inequality, poverty, and violations of human rights are the backdrop to terrorism. Making globalization work for the poor and creating international processes and institutions that can bring this about are as important – more important even – and more effective than intelligence, police and military efforts to combat terrorism.

In this context, extreme poverty, violence and conflict, environmental problems and disease do not recognize national frontiers and cannot be tackled by nation-states in isolation. Increasingly governments need to work together more closely in the Community of Nations to overcome these global challenges. In this effort, intergovernmental institutions, Non Governmental Organizations, and faith-based groups have an important role to play in the creation of a more just and peaceful world.

The light of faith as lens to se the world

The values of justice, solidarity, peace and the integrity of creation, which underpin the CIDSE-CI approach to global governance, are shared by people of all religions and cultural perspectives. CIDSE and CI draw their specific mandate from the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church. Such teaching evolves over time; in part to meet the challenges posed by the current phase of globalization.

Religious values and principles are not a blueprint for policy. The Catholic Church has always resisted prescribing particular social models. Rather, the teaching of the Church represents both a lens through which to see the world and a motivational force to transform it. It is the light to see the road ahead rather than the road map.

The World Synod of Catholic Bishops pointed out the responsibility of Christians in the transformation of the world based on justice and peace when it reiterated that “[ ] action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world were a constitutive dimension of the Gospel’s preaching or of the Church’s mission for the liberation of the human race from every oppressive situation.”

 Key Principles of Catholic Social Teaching and Global Governance

Over the past one hundred years, the political, social and economic message of the Gospel has been elaborated through Catholic Social Teaching (CST). In this social teaching “can be found the principles for reflection, the criteria for judgment and the directives for action which are the starting point for the promotion of an integral and solidarity humanism.”

The purpose of this social teaching is threefold. Firstly, it is to guide the individual consciences of people in making just decisions, such as what wages to pay, respect for the environment and so on. Secondly, it is to shape the response of the Church to social issues such as attitudes to racism, political involvement and care for the poor. Finally, it is intended to influence the activities of the public sector, for example, in the fields of economic policies, international relations, peace and war.

In order to identify the key principles underlining an approach to global governance rooted in CST, four stages must be identified:

A. Entry Points: what is the basis for our approach to global governance? (Human Dignity, Human Freedom and Responsibility, Integrity of Creation)

B. Process: what principles must be taken into account in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of structures of global governance? (Subsidiarity, Participation)

C. Content: what are the major priorities that must be taken into consideration when proposing changes to global governance structures? (Common Good, Option for the Poor, Care for God’s Creation)

D. Vision for the future: what kind of society is the end point for global governance? What are the desired consequences in society at large of changes in the structures of global governance? (Justice and Love, Global Solidarity, Peace)

A. Entry points: The principles that should serve as the basis in discussions of global governance

The Fundamental Dignity of Every Human Being and Their Human Rights

The starting point for CST and hence, for our discussions on global governance, is the sacredness of human life. The human person is the clearest reflection of God’s presence in the world. Hence, all of the Church’s work in pursuit of both justice and peace is designed to protect and promote the dignity of every person. (The Challenge of Peace, No.15)

The dignity of every human being does not arise from any human quality or accomplishment. It is not affected or qualified by race, gender, religion, social status or achievement. It is not dependent on economic capacity, or on consumption or output. Human dignity is not conferred by governments or other people. Rather, it is God given and must be respected.

Such a principle is already recognized within the international community through the UN Charter, which declares: “We, the peoples of the United Nations, determined… to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person… have resolved to combine our efforts to accomplish these aims.”

CST recognizes that rights cannot be achieved in isolation. They reflect the nature of human relationships and, therefore, have to be brought to fulfilment in communities – whether at a local, national or international level. With human rights come the responsibilities to honour and protect the rights of all others and to build the kind of society that protects and nourishes the rights of all.

Human Freedom and Responsibility

Human dignity is closely tied to the vision of human freedom and responsibility that underpins CST. Human “dignity demands [they] act according to a knowing and free choice that is personally motivated and prompted from within, neither under blind internal impulse nor by mere external pressure.”

Freedom and human dignity require “specific conditions of an economic, social, juridical, political and cultural order that ‘are too often disregarded or violated.’” CST affirms that authentic human development goes far beyond mere economic development. Authentic human development encompasses social, cultural and political as well as economic dimensions.

Integrity of Creation

“The principle of the unity of the human family is linked with another important principle, that of the universal destination of the goods of creation. It is a very simple principle to which Catholic Social Teaching has given such a complicated name. It means that when God created the goods of the world he created them for the benefit of all. Traditionally this principle was applied to land and natural resources. In today’s knowledge-based economy the principle must be applied also to the fruits of human genius and to intellectual property.”

This principle is especially urgent in today’s world where much of the earth’s biodiversity is located in developing countries which are also home to the vast majority of the world’s hungry and those afflicted with HIV/AIDS.

B. Process: The principles that should guide the process of global governance


The overarching principle which should govern the process of global governance from a CST perspective can be summarized by the term subsidiarity. The root of this principle is based on the premise that the deepest dimensions of human dignity and authentic human development are fundamentally linked to human freedom. Individuals and society at large only progress to the extent that the freedom of individuals is respected and to the extent that people use their free will to build solidarity with others.

Pope John Paul II reaffirmed the centrality of this principle: “The “principle of subsidiarity” must be respected: “A community of a higher order should not interfere with the life of a community of a lower order, taking over its functions.” In case of need it should, rather, support the smaller community and help to co-ordinate its activity with activities in the rest of society for the sake of the common good.”11

CST, therefore, proposes a vision of a pluralistic society with a multiplicity of social orders, associations and institutions both vertically and horizontally.

The community and its governmental institutions should be structured in a way that facilitates subsidiarity, i.e., these structures should be built from the bottom upwards so as to guarantee the maximum development of the individual and the individual’s ability to secure the existence of smaller communities, such as families and private institutions.

As far back as 1963, Pope John XXIII spoke of a ‘worldwide public authority’, which would perform those tasks which national governments could not perform due to the vastness, complexity and urgency of the problems (Peace on Earth, Nos, 140-141). Such an authority, however, should not reduce the sphere of action of individual states, but seek to work to perform tasks that would create an environment in which individual states could carry out their duties with greater security.

Subsidiarity as a guiding process for global governance can act both as a mitigating force against the extension of remote and unaccountable international institutions and a motivating force to put in place and/or justify those institutions that fulfil certain functions that must be performed at a global level. According to this principle, international institutions, including the international financial institutions should respect the role and point of view of the states and restrain from imposing conditionalities, especially on how states manage public services. Subsidiarity also demands that where the jurisdictions of such institutions are deemed legitimate, they should be accountable, transparent and fully representative of lower order communities.12


“The characteristic implication of subsidiarity is participation, which is expressed essentially in a series of activities by means of which the citizen, either as an individual or in association with others, whether directly or through representation, contributes to the cultural, economic, political and social life of the civil community…Participation is a duty to be fulfilled consciously by all, with responsibility and with a view to the common good.”

It is now widely recognized that poverty is a multidimensional process and that one of its dimensions is a lack of voice or exclusion from decision making. CST affirms that people are the subjects rather than the objects of development. Participation should be a guiding principle for systems of global governance. Attention must be given to creating and nurturing the social infrastructures, which enhance participation of persons and communities.

This entails moving toward functioning and legitimate democratic political institutions of global governance.

C. Content: The principles that must be taken into consideration when proposing changes to global governance structures.

The Common Good

The common good, according to CST, is the sum of all those conditions of social living – economic, political, sociological and cultural – which make it possible for women and men readily and fully to achieve authentic human development and to reach the perfection of their humanity. Individual rights are always experienced within the context of the promotion of the common good. State institutions have a key role to play as guarantors of the common good: “As for the State, its whole raison d’être is the realization of the common good in the temporal order. It has also the duty to protect the rights of all its people, and particularly of its weaker members, the workers, women and children.”

The State, in collaboration with the whole social body, has to work to protect the common good both nationally and globally. In the words of Pope John Paul II:

“At the national level, promoting community and the common good requires creating employment for all, caring for the less privileged, and providing for the future. At the global level, it increasingly requires analogous interventions on behalf of the whole human family.”

The Preferential Option for the Poor

The common good leads on to another priority in the processes of global governance: a preferential option for the poor. The current system of globalization, dominated by market forces, does not prioritize the needs of the world’s poor.

Implementing the option for the poor means giving priority attention to the needs and rights of those who are economically disadvantaged and, as a result, suffer oppression and powerlessness. Based upon the principle of the sacred dignity of each and every person, this principle means giving priority to those whose dignity is most often ignored, overlooked, at risk, or disdained.

Concern for the poor has always been at the very heart of the Christian message. A willingness to share with others is a sign of openness to God. Deuteronomy states: “there should be no poor among you” (Deuteronomy,15:4). Concern for those in need is a practical expression of love for God: “If someone who has the riches of this world sees his brother or sister in need and closes their heart to them, how does the love of God abide in them?” (1 Jn 3:17).

In other words, concern is not primarily about being generous or philanthropic. It is a question of love and justice. Concern for the poor, moreover, cannot be restricted to one geographical area, but has to take on global dimensions: “A consistent theme of Catholic Social Teaching is the option or love of preference for the poor. Today, this preference has to be expressed in worldwide dimensions, embracing the immense numbers of the hungry, the needy, the homeless, those without medical care, and those without hope.”

Care for God’s Creation

Another important aspect of the content of global governance is the relationship between humanity and its living environment. The notion of the created environment, and therefore, the world’s natural resources, is closely linked to the question of human freedom and responsibility. CST is based on the principle that the world, and everything in it, is not the ultimate property of anyone or of humanity as a whole. Human beings are stewards of creation, and called to manage the earth in a responsible way so as to pass it on to future generations. Economic and political structures that foster the plunder, waste and the destruction of nature are wrong. Such a principle is at the foundation of a Christian notion of ‘sustainable development’: “The first consideration is the appropriateness of acquiring a growing awareness of the fact that one cannot use with impunity the different categories of beings, whether living or inanimate – animals, plants, the natural elements – simply as one wishes, according to one’s own economic needs. On the contrary, one must take into account the nature of each being and of its mutual connection in an ordered system, which is precisely the cosmos.” …. “A true concept of development cannot ignore the use of the elements of nature, the renewability of resources and the consequences of haphazard industrialization – three considerations which alert our consciences to the moral dimension of development.”

D. Vision for the future: the principles of CST that underline the vision of humanity’s future.

Justice and Love

The principle vision is the construction of a global “civilization of love and justice”. In the vision of the world presented by CST, there is a marriage of social love and social justice: love of neighbour is an absolute demand for justice, because charity must manifest itself in actions and structures which respect human dignity, protect human rights and facilitate human development: “Love of neighbour, grounded in the love of God, is first and foremost a responsibility for each individual member of the faithful, but it is also a responsibility for the entire ecclesial community at every level: from the local community to the particular Church and to the Church universal in its entirety.”

This love results in the ministry of charity (diakonia) that is one of the three-fold responsibilities of the Church and it is deeply linked with the Christian call to justice. The call of Jesus to love each and every person requires that we go beyond words and thoughts to action by working to establish structures of justice, which support and liberate all peoples.

Global Solidarity

The vision of solidarity as represented in CST recognizes that rich nations have responsibilities towards poor nations. People with wealth and resources are linked with those who lack them within the human family in the ‘divine economy’. Those who remain untouched or unchanged by the suffering of their brothers and sisters around the world suffer from serious spiritual underdevelopment. They are just as much in need of solidarity for their own full human development as the poor are. They are trapped within the boundaries they build around themselves. Moreover, solidarity also entails recognizing that the well-being of all peoples, whether from industrialized or developing countries, is interlinked. It means working in genuine partnerships to address our mutual interdependence. “Solidarity must be seen above all in its value as a moral virtue that determines the order of institutions. On the basis of this principle the ‘structures of sin’ that dominate relationships between individuals and peoples must be overcome. They must be purified and transformed into structures of solidarity through the creation or appropriate modification of laws, market regulations, and juridical systems”


Peace is much more than the absence of war. Peace-making, in the sense of “struggling for social justice” is not an optional commitment. Rather it is a requirement of our faith that is deeply linked to justice and solidarity. The statement of Pope Paul VI “If you want peace, work for justice” calls us to action for peace. Such a peace can only be built in a world of justice and solidarity: “The solidarity which binds all men together as members of a common family makes it impossible for wealthy nations to look with indifference upon the hunger, misery and poverty of other nations whose citizens are unable to enjoy even elementary human rights. The nations of the world are becoming more and more dependent on one another and it will not be possible to preserve a lasting peace so long as glaring economic and social imbalances persist.”

Following the principles of justice, love and global solidarity should lead to a world in which sustainable peace is possible. The alternative is a world of increasing insecurity, which will continually be exposed to the threat of the poor, excluded and disenfranchised choosing to defend their interests through violent means.

Key Actors in Global Governance

On the basis of core values such as dignity, freedom and responsibility, subsidiarity, care for the common good, the option for the poor and care for creation we can identify key areas for reform of the rules and processes underpinning current forms of global governance. They also provide us with a perspective to examine the relationship between various international organizations. With this perspective we see gaps and contradictions in the current system of global governance which need to be addressed in order to move to a system which fits with those principles and values.

Catholic Social Teaching recognizes the important role played by the present institutions of global governance, especially the United Nations, but also points out that the full “vision of an effective international public authority at the service of human rights, freedom and peace has not yet been entirely achieved.” These institutions are in need of stronger support and renewal based on the principles listed above. In order to move towards this renewal, we must understand the role of the international institutions and global actors that must be involved in this process.

United Nations Organization

The first international institution that has to be addressed in this context is the United Nations (UN). The UN was set up in the wake of World War II with the specific mandate of never allowing such a war to happen again. It was founded on the principles of collective action as the basic principle of security. In many respects, the UN Charter outlines the functions of an organization that should be at the heart of global governance both in terms of economic, social and political processes. However, since its foundation the UN has found itself in an extremely difficult position in exercising that mandate.

Since its foundation, dozens of UN agencies and programmes have been created in an effort to address specific issues on the global agenda (refugees, human rights, work, women, education, children, hunger, development, etc). Central to addressing the question about global governance are the Security Council, the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council.

Since the early 1990s, the UN sponsored several major international Conferences and Summits aimed at finding political answers to the challenges of globalization and ever-increasing global problems (most importantly, poverty, hunger, gender, degradation of environment, population growth, urbanization and migration, violation of political and social human rights).

Whilst some criticized such events as merely being long on words and soft on actions, it was also the case that successive UN conferences created greater public awareness of the importance for humankind of those issues that were on their agendas. These events also provided important spaces to mobilize and hear the voices of Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) around important global issues.

United Nations Reform

Presently, the United Nations is undergoing a serious reflection on reforming the present structure. The March 2005 report of UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, “In Larger Freedom,” highlighted several of the urgent needs to reform the present structure. This report helped to launch a deep debate among member states leading up to the 2005 United Nations World Summit and General Assembly where the member states dealt with several key issues.

Many states and NGOs in the world question the present structure of the UN Security Council, which continues to privilege the victors of World War II as permanent members with veto power. In 2005 many proposals were made to give more power and voice to other states, especially those in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Unfortunately, no consensus was reached in 2005 on this issue, but member states are continuing to debate on at least four major proposals for reform.

Similarly in the case of the reform of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the UN has been unable to make a decision to give it the power to be the true supervisory and monitoring body of economic and social rights it was envisioned to be. In the Monterrey Consensus in March 2002, world leaders reiterated – as they had already done at the UN Millennium Summit – the priority they attach to reinvigorating the UN system as fundamental to the promotion of international co-operation for development, by strengthening the ECOSOC to enable it to fulfil the role ascribed to it in the UN Charter. The report presented to the Preparatory Committee for the Monterrey Conference in January 2001 indicated that the ECOSOC was emerging as a strategic forum to help develop overall guidance and promote policy co-ordination within the UN system, thus providing a natural forum where the various components of the system could come together and engage in a productive dialogue across functional, sectoral and institutional lines. This report also suggested that Member States as well as all entities of the UN system could and should make better use of the Council as a forum for dialogue, especially on issues of policy coherence and co-ordination, including those, which may require detailed consideration in the more specialized bodies. However, this never happened and the issue when taken up in preparation for the UN World Summit 2005 and in discussing its outcome have reflected very different views on the role of ECOSOC.

A major issue addressed in the discussions about UN reform is the overall coherence and integration within the UN system, which has grown to include dozens of specialized agencies, programmes and departments. Related to this is the question of the effective management of the UN Secretariat. The 2005 General Assembly initiated several processes to deepen the reflection on these issues in the future.

The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank

Alongside the UN, the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) constitute key players within the current architecture of global governance. The role of these institutions and their relationship with other key players has been called into question in recent years. The founding mandates of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) specified very different roles for the institutions from those that they developed in the more than sixty years of their existence, especially in the years since the debt crisis erupted in 1980. The IMF’s original task was to stabilize the system of fixed exchange rates, which was in existence until 1973, using temporary cash injections in order to overcome pressing financial crises. And the World Bank’s mandate, after helping to promote the economic reconstruction of Europe and Japan following the end of World War II, was to help finance the economic and social development of a rapidly expanding number of independent developing countries.

Over time, the World Bank and IMF have become the world’s two most powerful financial institutions. Through the loans they make to poor countries and the conditions attached to these, they have come to control public policy in large areas of the developing world. And yet, the adjustment policies that these international financial institutions require poor countries to adopt have resulted in social upheaval and poverty more often than they have led to economic development. Neither have they adequately responded to the global financial crises, which impacted the world economy or devised innovative instruments for responding to these.

Both institutions are often criticized for lacking transparency and using criteria to determine representation that is based on a system which has more to do with ensuring that the power remains in the hands of a few rich countries than to do with more objective criteria such as regional balance or sizes of economies.

CIDSE has outlined three critical areas of reform that the IFIs would need to implement: I) achieving adequate representation, accountability and transparency; II) promoting a plurality of approaches to equitable development and III) ensuring their role in the system of global institutions respects the primacy of international human rights law and equitable economic and social development.

The World Trade Organization

The WTO constitutes a third major player in the international financial architecture governing globalization. It came into being on 1 January 1995 as the successor of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). The GATT, an international agreement to reduce tariffs and other barriers to trade, was born in the aftermath of World War II, as the US and Britain sought to establish a stable multilateral economic system to prevent the kind of trade wars and economic rivalry that had contributed to the Great Depression and the rise of fascism. Without a doubt, trade plays an important role in global governance in our world.

In just ten years, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has doubled its membership. Four  fifths of its members are developing countries. This enlargement has created new challenges in terms of co-ordination and negotiation. With decision-making based on a consensus system, so each member has equal decision-making power, the WTO is held to be the most democratic of all the international institutions with a global mandate. The Seattle Ministerial (1999) however, revealed how even such a democratic system is vulnerable to manipulation by an elite group of powerful members. There is general consensus that issues of content, process and organization also played a key part in the failure of the Fifth Ministerial in Cancun in 2003. As with the previous Ministerials, the sixth Ministerial in Hong Kong (December, 2005) was met with massive protests by civil society groups (farmers, students, faith based organizations, etc) who expressed increasing concern on trade issues, especially agricultural subsidies, privatisation of public resources, etc.

National Governments

Whilst debates around global governance issues are increasingly dominated by the role of international institutions, the problems of global governance cannot be fully understood without addressing the interface between national interests and the multilateral system. Nation states remain the principal actors within the international system and whilst agreements are increasingly reached in international contexts, the principal locus of decision-making and implementation remains in the national arena. States continue to be the principal agents capable of taking authoritative decisions. This is why they are the key pillars of the architecture of global governance.

Ad-hoc groupings

Over the past few decades, several Ad-hoc groupings have been created. Most notably, the Group of 8 or G8 was created in 1975 to bring together the world’s richest countries (G7) and Russia to address economic and financial issues. By virtue of its combined economic, military, and diplomatic power and influence, the G8 currently exercises tremendous influence over the multilateral institutions of global governance. This power gives the G8 great influence on the policies, programmes, and decisions of the UN Security Council, the WTO, the IMF, World Bank, and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The Group of 77 (G77), created in 1964 by the 77 poorest countries aims at addressing global issues in relation to development from the perspective of the poorest countries. Presently, the G77, has grown to include 132 countries from Africa and other continents. – –

Regional Actors

The continuing rearrangement of global economic and political groups sometimes referred to as a shift towards a “multi-polar world”, has been accompanied by a process of regionalization. This process is being intensified under the pressure of globalization. This simultaneous emergence of globalization and regionalization, and localization (sometimes termed “glocalization”) is one of the structural trends of global politics and global society. All of the world’s regions are gradually forming zones of cooperation and integration. Over 170 regional trade agreements bind nation states together and regional organizations such as the African Union, the Arab League, the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the European Union highlight an important shift towards greater regional co-operation, with varying degrees of success.

Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs)

Since the early 1990s there has been an exponential growth in the number of local, regional and international NGOs working on issues relating to global governance. The emergence of this global civil society, which is networked at a variety of levels (local, national, regional and global), makes it possible for such actors to play the role of watchdogs of globalization. This watchdog function, however, is no substitute for control exercised by democratically elected leaders and parliaments. NGOs and others can, however, enable and provoke democratically elected representatives to take their rights and duties to monitor and regulate global public and private sector activities more seriously. Indeed civil society networks have seen that advocacy at the state level alone was insufficient especially where their governments’ economic sovereignty had been eroded under the weight of external debt burdens and structural adjustment. Activists in developing countries often perceive their national governments as being unable or unwilling to stand up to, or influence, their political and economic conditions, which they see as shaped by the policies of the major industrialized economies, powerful nonstate corporate actors, which in turn influence the rules and structures of various multilateral bodies.

In relation to the issues of global governance, these actors play an important fourfold role: 1) Many NGOs, including universities and think tanks, are involved in developing a critical analysis of global issues, often based on local experiences. 2) NGOs are essential to bring the voices and concerns of their local members to the international and global forums. They play an important role in helping to facilitate participation of civil society into political processes. 3) A third role played by NGOs, especially faith-based NGOs, is the approach to issues of global governance based on an ethical and value-based perspective. In this role, faith-based organizations can draw from their different traditions, including Catholic Social Teaching, to approach these issues. 4) Finally, NGOs play an important role in mobilizing and educating people at local level. The efforts of NGOs in the Jubilee 2000 campaign is a good example of the impact these organizations can have in mobilizing local action to have a global impact.

The role of the private sector

The role and influence of transnational corporations (TNCs) in shaping global and local rules has expanded in line with their expanded management capacities, multinational organizational structures and financial resources, resources which outstrip the national incomes of some developing countries. Their access to governments and international institutions is exerted in less transparent ways than that exerted by non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The main channel through which TNCs can influence global economic rules is through their capacity to influence the governments of their home (mainly G7) countries. This fact has become a matter of concern, as TNCs are driven primarily by the need to increase their profits in order to boost stock prices and shareholders’ dividends rather than the common good or other ethical considerations.


This booklet intends to reflect CIDSE and Caritas Internationalis’ conviction that while poverty remains the starkest violation of human rights, a number of its major root causes are deeply connected to the system of global governance in which we live. In turn, there is much to be done within the system of global governance to address these root causes.

We are truly convinced that committed citizens can bring about change. Thus, the principles of solidarity underpinning our activities should continue to reinvigorate us in the pursuit of authentic human development and social justice. While this booklet seeks to lay down CIDSE and CI’s vision of global governance drawn from the CST tradition in which our members are rooted and our partnerships with a range of Southern actors, it is not presented in an isolationist or hierarchical way. Rather our networks, recognizing and valuing the rich traditions and experiences of faith and non-faith groups working for justice, will seek to work within and to build more effective international alliances in the pursuit of progressive global governance. We hope that it provides the reader with food for thought regarding the issues covered and encourage greater space for reflection and from there, action.

Justice means having a real voice and that voice making a difference. For participation to be genuinely empowering, we must never stop challenging the power imbalances arising in our world. By embarking on advocacy and spreading information on their vision on global governance, CIDSE and Caritas Internationalis seek to foster ownership of their collective future by the people we serve and by the civil society and church families of which we are a part. We must have the courage to seek to reform and transform the institutions of global governance and to renew them to make them the best they can be. We must continue to work to eliminate the distortions of global governance that exclude the poor. For it is ultimately the poorest, with whom Christians are called to be in the deepest form of solidarity, who suffer the most as a result of poor global governance.