Jamaica, the Caribbean, and global governance

By Professor Neville Duncan

Professor Neville Duncan is Director of the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute for Social and Economic Studies at the University of the West Indies, Jamaica. Here, Professor Duncan shares his thoughts on the failure of global governance and the impact on the Caribbean

The potentially massive changes in the global political economy, which may lead to a great depression, along with dangerous rattles of war in the Middle East, potential oil crises, massive increases in food prices presaging hunger and food scarcity, and water crises leave all current global governance institutions on the cusp of having to undertake radical reform.

Already, the World Trade Organisation needs to be pronounced dead, along with post-Lomé trade and investments. The Enterprise of the Americas has ceased, while small states’ organisations lack effective global structures in relation to both environmental issues as well as their own survival in the world economic system. Virtually all other organisations of immediate interest to the Caribbean are under-funded or almost moribund. Global governance is, at the start of 2012, essential empty of both activity and substance.  The serious challenge that China is mounting to US hegemony, the potential loss of the US dollar as the global reserve currency, nuclear proliferation, and the shift of consumption and production away from the group of the seven richest countries suggests the imminent shaping of a new world order. Such an order includes, of course, the possibility of a transition to a new hegemonic power. That this order is being shaped outside of the existing governance structures exposes their own increasing emptiness and even irrelevance.

It is dubious where individual Caribbean countries and entities will stand in this emerging order, and what influence they may hold.  It is unlikely that Caribbean countries, neither individually nor collectively, have been busy envisioning what needs to be done.  There is, in fact, little or no leadership to speak of.  The Caribbean Secretariat is virtually stalled, as is CARICOM.  There has been little progress on the Single Market and Economy.  The subdued noises coming out of CARICOM’s recent inter-sessional meeting are of little value. Meanwhile, even regional NGOs struggle to be effective.

At this point, disintegration and chaos seem more likely than unity and strength.  The Caribbean is even weaker that it should be in weathering global recession, and without stronger, better articulated and better owned solutions, may very soon face global depression.

On Tuesday 20 March 2012, CIVICUS and the Association of Development Agencies in Jamaica will co-host a national consultation on the theme of ‘Civil Society and Redefining the Social Contract’. To get involved with the regional discussion coming out of the consultation, please contact Mark Nowottny, Coordination and Planning Manager, at mark.nowottny@civicus.org.  

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