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Civil Society in United Nations Seats toward Establishing Global Governance

Civil Society in United Nations Seats toward Establishing Global Governance

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"Voices Unheard and Roles at Rest"
"Voices Unheard and Roles at Rest"

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Published by: Andhyta Firselly Utami on Jun 03, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Transnational Society ± Paper Response Review Assignment
 Name : Andhyta Firselly UtamiDepartment /NPM : International Relations / 0906550373Resource : ³The Position of Civil Society in Establishing GlobalGovernance Through United Nations´ by Muhammad IqbalPirzada, submitted as an individual paper of Transnational SocietyCourse, Department of International Relations, FISIP UI, March 9
, 2011
Civil Society in United Nations Seats toward Establishing Global Governance:Voices Unheard and Roles at Rest
The initial construction of µglobal governance¶ can be said to commence throughtreaties and other formal arrangements among nations which have begun since 1814 in theCongress of Vienna.
However, global governance as a concept was not born that early. Inyears following the Congress, a system of communication between governments as well as people developed, and so was the interaction among them. This phenomenon led to the trendof global governance institutionalization which mainly stands upon two pillars:intergovernmental coordination and civil society empowerment. They shape some kind of shared norms, values and goal which later become the basic foundation of global governance.In his paper, Muhammad Iqbal Pirzada tries to depict the convergence andinterconnectedness between both pillars by assessing the role of Non-governmentalOrganizations (NGOs) within the United Nations. This review is going to argue that civilsociety, although has more opportunities than it used to have, did not reach the required levelof influence because they inevitably depend on states¶ foreign policy.As mankind came to the second decade of 21
century, more global problems haveemerged. These matters demand the fullest attention from international community. Thelarge-scale issues of famine and global warming, for example, lead government and civilsociety movements to show their different approach of solutions. However, the increasingnumber of transnational difficulties causes both actors to realize the importance of workingalong with each other. Hence since the 1990s NGOs are given seats to observe activities done by the United Nations to later recommend certain policies and commit as the working bodyof produced resolutions. Bearing in mind the dissimilar nature of each actor, the challenge isto ensure that such mechanism would be effective and efficient in tackling the actual problems. In other words, their task is to make sure that these NGOs play a significant roleand not result as a futile effort.
Joseph A. Camilleri, ³Democratizing Global Governance´ in
 Reimagining The Future: Towards Democratic Governance
,(Melbourne: Department of Politics, La Trobe University, 2000), page 9
Departing from that consideration, Iqbal¶s paper identifies a very crucial researchquestion: ³How significant is the position of civil society in establishing global governanceespecially in United Nations system?´ An akin spirit is also present in Jan Aart Scholte¶s³Civil Society and Democratically Acountable Global Governance´ which points out aSWOT analysis on the role of Non-governmental Organizations within the bodies of United Nations. Unfortunately, rather than giving direct and concise answer upon this inquiry,Iqbal¶s elaboration wanders to several other themes that are not genuinely relevant.The blunder that Iqbal has done in his comprehensive explanation is a µmissing link¶ between the United Nations (as an empirical body) and global governance (as an abstractmodel). Borrowing Jim Whitman¶s description, his paper defines global governance as:
µ«efforts to bring more orderly and reliable responses to social and political issues that go beyind the capacities or individual states to addressindividually.´ or ³«the making and acceptance of formal and informal norms,which apply to decision making as well as policy implementation.´
Such definition does not explicitly include United Nations¶ role in its establishment.Abandoning this obligation, Iqbal hurriedly goes to civil society¶s role in global governanceand the United Nations without firstly showing their relation to each other. Although hecarefully elucidates the definition of µcivil society¶ as non-state, non-market actors, this doesnot directly assist his further. The writer believes that otherwise the analysis could be sharper.Additionally, Iqbal does not appear to really refer to his research question innarrowing the paper¶s analysis. As the consequence, unneeded elaboration on Tussie andCasaburi¶s concept of general governance is present. Tussie and Casaburi propose the ideathat there are three levels of governance, on which global governance takes part as the lastand biggest process after institutional and national governance.
Without this part, Iqbalmight have saved more space to give empirical data and study cases on the status quo of  NGOs¶ position within the United Nations.The next part of his paper discusses about the history of civil society and United Nations. Iqbal states that the end of Cold War causes free cooperation between states more possible to achieve. Progress can superficially be seen through the increasing number of United Nations conferences which also indicates the rising awareness from the government aswell as the society. However, readers may not find the pertinence of this information towardsthe big picture of NGOs¶ role in UN seats. What Iqbal calls as the µenhancement of 
Jim Whitman,
The Fundamentals of Global Governance,
(New York: Palgrave, 2009), page 5 as cited in Muhammad IqbalPirzada, ³The Position of Civil Society in Establishing Global Governance Through United Nations´, FISIP UI 2011
Dianna Tussie and Gabriel Casaburi,
 From Global to Local Governance: Civil Society and The Multilateral Development  Banks,
Global Governance 6 (4), page 308 as cited in Iqbal Pirzada,
democracy¶ was lacking of detailed agreement on NGOs¶ rights and obligations within UN bodies and/or chambers. For example, do the NGOs votes or do they simply observe theongoing committee sessions as an external guest? The writer believes that such inquiryshould have been answered by Iqbal¶s paper at the first place but he did not manage to do so.On the other hand, the writer should applaud Iqbal¶s accomplishment in holisticallyelaborating the progress made by NGOs in the United Nations. The conferences were foundas a fertile ground for them in advocacy efforts because there is chance to pressure states andraise consciousness towards relevant issues. There was also reinforcement by some donor countries and United Nations agencies that increase their funds for civil society¶s participation in the mentioned conferences. It seems that civil society has an opportunity toexert influence at a global level to gain visibility and to access funding for this purpose.
 The writer¶s expectation to find empirical data as well as comparison of progressmade by the United Nations before and after the NGOs are involved in their activities is not provided in Iqbal¶s paper. Instead, he claims that it is such µconsensus that civil society has been successful in gaining international attention and setting agendas than in getting result¶
 without necessarily argues why. Finally, Iqbal concludes that µin shaping global governance,civil society still depends on state in determining their participation and global policymaking¶. This is a valid argument, yet the writer regrets his lack of elaboration and suggeststhat the whole paper would be more reasonable if the research question is altered into ³Whatare the developments to Non-governmental Organizations¶ role in the United Nations?´Assuming that Iqbal¶s conclusion is true, however, the next question would be ³Whydo these NGOs fail to conduct and carry their objectives within United Nations¶ bodies?´This unfortunate condition indeed does not happen without any reason. As also elucidated byJan Aart Scholte in ³Civil Society and Democratically Accountable Global Governance´,there are several apparent challenges that should be faced by civil society in imposing their role at global governance institutions, in this case the United Nations.
 First, civil society faces the problem of resources. Although global internetcommunications have become relatively inexpensive for many associations, other groups lacof computers or face high user charges. Meanwhile air travel, conference calls and translation
Tabbush, Constanza, ³Civil Society in United Nations Conferences: A Literature Review´ in
Civil Society and Social  Movements Programme Paper 
, No. 17, (United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, 2005) page 6 as cited inMuhammad Iqbal Pirzada,
Nora McKeon,
The United Nations and Civil Society: Legitimating Global Governance²Whose Voice?,
(London: ZedBooks, 2009) page 132
Jan Aart Scholte, ³Civil Society and Democratically Accountable Global Governance´ in
Government and Opposition,
(Malden: Blackwell Publishing, 2004)

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