chapter  7
20 Pages

Global governance and human security

ByCAROLINE THOMAS

The global landscape of the 1980s and 1990s was marked by pervasive poverty and deepening inequality within and between states. Over that same period, the agents of global governance promoted worldwide a model of development premised on the philosophy of political and economic liberalism. Global economic integration was presented as the best, the most natural and universal path towards growth and therefore development for all humanity. This was to be achieved by the application of neoclassical free market economic principles, but had important political components as well. The role of the state was minimised, and trade, finance and investment were systematically liberalised. The market, rather than the state, was to determine entitlement to fundamental material aspects of human security. This represented a fundamental ideological shift with the previous period. Economic liberalisation proceeded hand in hand with political liberalisation, and Western-style democratic reform and the prioritisation of civil and political rights was the order of the day. Neoliberal political and economic philosophy defined the dominant notion of human security.1 In important respects, however, the achievements of these policies did not live up to expectations. Neoliberal economics did not result in the trickle down of wealth to those at the bottom, nor did neoliberal political liberalisation result in real empowerment of voters or respect for economic, social and cultural rights.2