The Center for Global, International and Regional Studies (CGIRS) at the University of California Santa Cruz coordinates research, teaching and public education related to the new international economic, social and political structures of our time. In addition to the Working Papers, Global Policy Briefs and Reprints available from this site, CGIRS supports the UC Atlas of Global Inequality.
Center for Global, International and Regional Studies
Global Policy Briefs (3)
Reforming the global financial system
The global financial market has been shaken throughout the nineties by a series of major financial crises. Attempts to stabilize the global system have led to large bailouts. This system cannot survive indefinitely. The willingness of taxpayers in the industrialized (OECD) countries to engage in continuing bailouts is approaching its limits.
This paper has two goals. First, it briefly summarizes the evidence that financial crises may be induced by opening up developing countries to short-term capital inflows. Second, it appraises the various proposals made for mitigating the severity of financial crises.
Explaining the appeal of Islamic radicals
Why do “Islamic radicals”—including the partisans of al-Qaeda and other followers of Osama bin Laden--enjoy so much sympathy in the Middle East and the wider Muslim world?
This Global Policy Brief explores four socioeconomic roots of Islamic radicalism:
- The multidimensional crisis of the Muslim world
- The rage of the young, a majority of the population in the Middle East, are faced with poor livelihood prospects
- Increasing poverty and collapsing cities
- Failures of government.
Can multilateral institutions be made publicly accountable?
Multilateral organizations, by definition, are formally accountable only to the nation-states that ostensibly share in their governance. This is not enough to hold multilateral organizations publicly accountable, especially when nation-state power within them is very lop-sided, when some are quite insulated, and when they respond to non-state actors only at their discretion. In this context, what kinds of institutional reforms can help multilateral organizations to become more publicly accountable?
Reprint Series (111)
Mapping Global Inequalities (21)
Working Papers (34)
Inequality and Globalization: A Comment on Firebaugh and Goesling
The September 2004 issue of the American Journal of Sociology contains an article by Firebaugh and Goesling arguing that global income inequality has declined in recent decades as a result of economic globalization. This paper examines the methodological choices made by the authors, and some alternative estimates they overlooked. It concludes that there are many reasons to be cautious about accepting the claim that global income inequality is falling. At the least we have to (a) acknowledge evidence to the contrary, (b) explain why the counter evidence is not to be counted, and (c) acknowledge that even by the measures and data sources that show falling overall inequality, the result depends mostly on China.
Paper or Plastic? The Privatization of Global Forestry Regulation
In 1992, representatives of 180 of the world’s nations met in Rio de Janeiro at the UN Conference on Environment and Development. Among the submissions debated and considered at the “Earth Summit,” as it was called, was one addressing sustainable forestry, with the unwieldy title "Non-legally binding authoritative statement of principles for a global consensus on the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests" Opposition to the Forest Principles was much broader than support for them, and they crashed and burned. Over the intervening years, there have been repeated efforts to launch an International Forest Convention; although UN-sponsored panels, commissions, and forums on forests have worked continuously on the matter since 1995, these efforts have, so far, not been consummated in either an agreement or an organization. The absence of a global forestry convention does not mean the absence of “international” forestry regulations, although these, for the most part, have their origins in long-standing national legal and regulatory systems. One result of the apparent international impasse has been the growing privatization of global forestry regulation. There is nothing new about private law, either domestic or international. But whereas private law was historically constituted by contract among signatories, and usually legitimated through the legal structures of and enforcement by states, private forestry regulation rests on the hope for a form of “social contract” between producers and consumers. Such a contract promises consumer loyalty in return for corporate good behaviour. Indeed, in the face of an international failure to establish a global forestry convention, such “private” initiatives have proliferated, offering competing venues for those interested in fostering “sustainable forestry.” Can such private regulation ensure sustainable forestry? This paper attempts to answer the question. I begin with an examination of the reasons for privatization of forest regulation. In the second part of the chapter, I turn to a discussion of the many initiatives to implement semi-public or private forestry regulation, and the ways in which market-based methods lie at their core. Finally, I assess what I see as the fundamental flaws in such an approach, and argue that the sovereign consumer, when faced with contradictory messages about her purchases in the market and, possibly unmotivated by normative concerns, is not necessarily going to choose an environmentally-friendlier product.