Collaborative Governance and International Economic Relations
Kevin T. Jackson
ABSTRACT: This article examines transnational cooperative governance regimes, and discusses their connection to the global challenges of respecting human rights responsibilities, advancing the rule of law, and meeting the demands of distributive justice in international economic relations. It begins by exploring the question of whether various decentralized components of the emergent paradigm of transnational economic governance such as public policy networks, multi-stakeholder partnerships, and other multi-actor schemes for private-public regulation harmonize with a non-instrumental underwriting of international human rights, and whether the paradigm is amenable to moral guidance from the international rule of law. Introducing the notion of a broad common public justification as distinct from narrower forms of functional and contractual justification, the article then highlights the moral character of the international rule of law and human rights and offers reflections on what that idea means in regard to cooperative governance regimes. Finally, building on the preceding discussions, the article advances the argument that the joint partners comprising global economic governance regimes have a shared and potentially magnified responsibility to respect the basic interests of the global public when laying down their own systems of ground rules that facilitate their pursuit of more limited instrumental aims such as promoting the financial objectives of their own members’ elites. The international rule of law, properly understood, stands as a check on international economic relations in the sense that people, organizations, and institutions that structure collaborative schemes have basic obligations not to establish unjust ground rules in the first place. The ground rules that are in play in transnational economic governance regimes may be unjust not only in the sense that they institute unfair procedures but also in the sense that they create or perpetuate unfair apportionments of resources, privileges, and goods. In this way, collaborative governance is constrained by the dictates of distributive as well as procedural justice.