The New World Order: Global Governance and International Institutions

Overview and aims

The overall aim of the module is to provide a programme of study on the concept, theories and processes of global governance with a focus on the role of contemporary international institutions, such as the United Nations. The study of global governance is becoming increasingly important in a world facing a multitude of problems requiring multilateral action. The Commission on Global Governance (2005) defines governance as ‘the sum of the many ways individuals and institutions, public and private, manage their common affairs. It is a continuing process through which conflicting or diverse interests may be accommodated and co-operative action may be taken. It includes formal institutions and regimes empowered to enforce compliance, as well as informal arrangements’. While this definition applies to all levels of governance, global governance has been viewed primarily in terms of intergovernmental relationships. In the contemporary era, especially since the end of the cold war, it is understood as also involving global civil society, non-governmental organisations and multinational corporations.

The module is intended to provide you with the opportunity to acquire a deeper and critical understanding of the processes and politics of global governance on the basis of a study of different theoretical approaches and perspectives. It also provides a broad basis for the advanced study of international institutions, for undertaking further research for writing a dissertation, and for developing the transferable skills that are necessary for the graduate job market, as well as for pursuing an international career in a related field. This particular module, because of its content, is also particularly suited to supporting you in establishing your career within a specific international organisation.

Module content

This module introduces, analyses and evaluates the theoretical literature on global governance, as well as international relations theories on international institutions. It critically analyses key aspects of the work of contemporary international institutions, such as the United Nations and the specialised agencies, and their contribution to global governance.

Module topics

  • International law and international organisation
  • Global peace and security issues: the role of the UN Security Council
  • Global peace and security issues: the UN Secretary General, and UN Peacekeeping
  • Development as an international institutional issue
  • Regional organisations: EU, ASEAN, APEC, SAARC, AU
  • Gaps in global governance including knowledge, normative, policy, institutional and compliance gaps

Learning outcomes

After studying this module you should be able to:

  • critically analyse the theoretical literature on global governance and apply it to the analysis of specific international issues
  • critically evaluate the role of the UN in the maintenance of international peace and security
  • critically evaluate the role of the UN and the specialised agencies in promoting international development
  • systematically compare and contrast regional organisations such as the EU, ASEAN, AU and their role in regional integration and governance

This module will help you gain the skills and qualities to:

  • communicate complex ideas, arguments and analyses in written and oral form using e-learning technologies
  • apply advanced problem-solving methodologies to the analysis of specific issues in international relations
  • develop a complex and theory-informed argument on behalf of a particular position in the study of governance and international relations

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