Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs


Watson Institute Workshop on Experimentalist Global Governance
November 14-16, 2013

A workshop on the theme of experimentalist global governance will be held in November at the Watson Institute. "Experimentalist Governance" describes situations in which practices involving an agreed understanding of basic or framework goals, open stakeholder participation, ongoing monitoring including peer review and regular updating and revision, are gradually institutionalized in contexts of complex interdependence and pervasive uncertainty about causal relationships,. In the transnational and global context, experimentalist governance is contrasted with two other modes of governance activity: (i) the creation and use of comprehensive integrated international regimes and (ii) the emergence and evolution of looser governance networks and regime complexes, which are more diverse and fragmented than comprehensive and integrated international regimes, but which lack some of the key characteristics of experimentalist regimes. The practice of Global Experimentalist Governance is illustrated in the theme paper for the conference by Gráinne de Búrca, Robert O. Keohane, and Charles Sabel by three examples: the arrangements devised to protect dolphins from being killed by tuna fishing practices; the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; and the Montreal Protocol on the Ozone Layer. The paper argues that Experimentalist Governance tends to arise on issues for which governments cannot formulate and enforce comprehensive sets of rules, but which do not involve entrenched fundamental disagreements or matters of high politics, and in which civil society or other key stakeholders are active. The purpose of the workshop is to critique these arguments and to see whether they apply, and if so with what variations, to a variety of issue-areas in world politics not discussed in the paper, including environmental protection, democracy assistance and election monitoring, labor rights and other human rights regimes, development and welfare. The workshop brings together leading scholars in political science and law from North and South America, Europe and Australia, working on different areas and aspects of global governance.