Ngaire Woods and the reshaping of the global governance system

Ngaire Woods and the reshaping of the global governance system

The reshaping of the global governance system is on the top of the international relations agenda and it seems as if it may well be for some time. Such is evident during our daily lectures at IE School of International Relations, by staying on top of current global affairs and witnessing the events taking place around the world.

To better understand the moment from a historical and academic point of view, Ngaire Woods, Dean of the Blavatnik School of Government and Professor of Global Economic Governance at Oxford University, was invited by IE University as a guest speaker for a seminar on the topic. Dean Ngaire, a distinguished academic on the matter and which she has covered extensively, captured the audience’s attention from the beginning of her talk. She formulated a question that captures the evolving idiosyncrasies of the current global political and economic system: “What are the most important questions we should be asking ourselves about international cooperation?”

As those of us attending thought about such a heavy loaded question, she opened the discussion, by asking the IR enthusiasts in the room to take into account the ideas of US scholar Robert Keohane in his renowned book After Hegemony, published in 1984.In the text, Keohane makes the case that international cooperation could continue even without US global dominance due to the relevance and role of international institutions. Ngaire and Robert O. Keohane are co-founders of the Oxford-Princeton Global Leaders Fellowship program.

Fortunately, the MIR 2018 class had read the book in the first term’s course, Theories of International Relations, taught by Dan Kselman who moderated the seminar (Dan is the Vice Dean of IE School of International Relations). The MIR 10th intake, as well as many from the Bachelor and other programs, was eager to share some views on the matter, which nurtured an open and dynamic seminar.

Dean Ngaire Woods reflected on the relevance of international cooperation at a pivotal moment as we are going through today in the global governance scenario.  She pointed out the role of the United States and was concise when stating that President Donald Trump’s administration continues to repudiate long-established patterns of cooperation (along a list of recent examples underlying it). This, she said, is making the risk to global stability becoming increasingly acute. (If you are interested in reading more, check out a recent post from Ngaire Woods on Social Europe, titled International Cooperation 2.0)

During her presentation, Dean Woods took questions and was opened to all types of discussions – from Brexit, to the evolving role of the IMF or the complexity of trade negotiations. She also shared some personal experiences such as a time in the late 90’s when she wondered how could small countries (or not as powerful) could affect the IMF. Her way to solve the (still relative) mystery was to convene a meeting of leaders from emerging market countries given that she had realized that during the first G20 meeting in 1999 smaller countries stood no chance against their wealthier peers

She used it to illustrate the need for active engagement within and from the international relations community when thinking about what should be on the agenda. “To make a difference, where is it that government officials are struggling and trying to get it right? How can you support them to do a better job?” Ngaire questioned. All while encouraging us attending to seize the opportunity and to keep in mind the need for innovative governance leaders.