Paddy Ashdown: Corruption and terrorism will flourish without global governance

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The Independent Online

There are three events which will characterise the coming age. The first is the transfer of power from the nations gathered around the Atlantic rim to those gathered around the Pacific, which will not be smooth. We are reaching the end of the period of hegemony of Western values in international affairs and we will have to start accepting new governmental concepts if we are to have a rule-based global system.

Second, power is global and has shifted out of the institutions we created to make it subject to the rule of law, away from the national state onto the global stage. That is where big business is, where Citigroup is and that is where al-Qa'ida is as well. They are there because of essentially one thing – it is a lawless space, a place where regulations are too weak to govern. So one of the challenges of our age is bringing governance to that global space. Thirdly, states are increasingly inter-dependent. You cannot ignore what goes on in a far away country of which we know little and seem to care less. If you do then you will find death and destruction delivered to your most iconic cities. Everything is now connected.

That is true of our internal structures, and it is true of our global ones as well. So the most important things we can do, must be done with our European partners, multi-lateral institutions, with the UN, with our partners in the Atlantic relationship. What matters on the world stage is this: can we create the instruments that can bring government and co-ordination in the global space?

My guess is that this will happen less through the instruments of the UN. I think the UN is an old organisation, structured not for executive action but for discussion and legalisation of action. If we are to co-ordinate, we should do much more through treaty-based organisations. We have begun to see those developing: The World Trade Organisation is one, Kyoto is another and the G20 is a very good example of how we are beginning to move use those organisations that can provide both governance (G20 was talking about regulation) but also leadership on the global stage.

Baron Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon was speaking at the launch of 'Security in a Globalised World' at the Institute for Public Policy Research last week