Cover page

Title page

Copyright page

Figures and Tables


1.1 International organizations and their offshoots, absolute number and annual rate of growth

2.1 The proliferation of global financial regulatory standards, 1983–2015

2.2 Bank lending in international and domestic components, 2000–2014

3.1 Foreign exchange reserve accumulation in G20 emerging countries in Asia and Latin America, 1990–2015

13.1 Self-reinforcing gridlock


1.1 Gridlock trends and their mechanisms

1.2 Pathways through and beyond gridlock and their mechanisms

1.3 Pathways through and beyond gridlock across areas of world politics examined in this book

3.1 Institutional fragmentation in the international monetary system: regional arrangements in US dollars created or reinforced by the G20 emerging countries after the 2008 crisis

3.2 Institutional fragmentation in the international monetary system: arrangements in national currencies created by the G20 emerging countries after the 2008 crisis

7.1 Pathways out of gridlock in forced migration

8.1 Pathways through or beyond gridlock in human rights governance


AMR antimicrobial resistance
APT advanced persistent threat
ARPANET Advanced Research Projects Agency Network
ASEAN Association of Southeast Asian Nations
BCBS Basel Committee on Banking Supervision
BIS Bank for International Settlements
BIT bilateral investment treaty
BRICS Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa
BWC Biological Weapons Convention
C6 US Federal Reserve, European Central Bank, Bank of Japan, Bank of England, Swiss National Bank, Bank of Canada
CAT Convention against Torture
CEM Clean Energy Ministerial
CFE Contingency Fund for Emergencies (WHO)
CGFS Committee on the Global Financial System
CMIM Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralization
COP Conference of the Parties
COP21 21st Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC, Paris, 2015
CPSS Committee on Payments and Settlement Systems
CRA Contingent Reserve Arrangement
CRD Capital Requirements Directive
CTBT Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty
CWC Chemical Weapons Convention
DAH development assistance for health
DSM dispute settlement mechanism
EU European Union
FATF Financial Action Task Force
FDI foreign direct investment
Fed United States Federal Reserve
FSB Financial Stability Board
FTA free trade agreement
G7 Group of Seven (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK, US)
G8 Group of Eight (G7 plus Russia)
G20 Group of Twenty (major economies)
G30 Group of Thirty (consultative group of academics and financiers)
G77 Group of Seventy-Seven (developing countries)
GATS General Agreement on Trade in Services (WTO)
GATT General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
GDP gross domestic product
GEG global energy governance
GFATM Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
GFF Global Financial Facility
GHSA Global Health Security Agenda
GICNT Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism
GSM Global Stabilization Mechanism
HRC Human Rights Council
HSS health system strengthening
IAASB International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board
IADI International Association of Deposit Insurers
IAEA International Atomic Energy Agency
IAIS International Association of Insurance Supervisors
IASB International Accounting Standards Board
ICANN Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers
ICC International Criminal Court
ICRC International Committee of the Red Cross
ICSID International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes
IDA International Development Association
IDP internally displaced person
IEA International Energy Agency
IEF International Energy Forum
IGO intergovernmental organization
IHR International Health Regulations
IIF Institute for International Finance
IMF International Monetary Fund
IOPS International Organisation of Pension Supervisors
IOSCO International Organization of Securities Commissions
IPCC Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
IRENA International Renewable Energy Agency
ISDS investor–state dispute settlement
IWG International Working Group on Export Credits
LDCs least developed countries
LNG liquefied natural gas
MAI Multilateral Agreement on Investment (OECD)
MDB Multilateral Development Bank
MDG Millennium Development Goal
Mtoe million tons of oil equivalent
NAFTA North American Free Trade Agreement
NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organization
NGO non-governmental organization
NHRI national human rights institution
NPT Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
OCHA UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
ODRF Over-the-Counter Derivatives Regulators' Forum
OECD Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
OHCHR UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
OPCAT Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture
OPCW Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
OPEC Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries
OSCE Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
OTC over-the-counter derivatives
P5 Permanent Five (members of the United Nations Security Council)
PEF Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (World Bank)
PEPFAR President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief
PSI Proliferation Security Initiative
R&D research and development
R2P Responsibility to Protect
SALT Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty
SARS severe acute respiratory syndrome
SDG Sustainable Development Goal
SDR Special Drawing Right
SE4ALL Sustainable Energy for All
SML Local Currency Payment System
START Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty
TCP/IP Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol
TPP Trans-Pacific Partnership
TRIMs Agreement on Trade-Related Investment Measures
TTIP Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership
TW terawatt
UHC universal health coverage
UK United Kingdom
UN United Nations
UNAIDS Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS
UNCITRAL United Nations Commission on International Trade Law
UNCTAD United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
UNEP United Nations Environment Programme
UNFCCC United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
UNGGE United Nations Group of Governmental Experts
UNHCR United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UN Refugee Agency)
US United States
USAID US Agency for International Development
WHO World Health Organization
WMD weapons of mass destruction
WTO World Trade Organization
XDR-TB extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis

Notes on the Authors

Garrett Wallace Brown is Professor of Political Theory and Global Health Policy in the School of Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds. His research includes work on cosmopolitanism, globalization theory, global justice, international law and global health governance. He has published widely on issues in global health and has recently published Global Health Policy (2014) and The Global Politics of Health Reform in Africa (2015). His current Medical Research Council research is investigating whether performance-based financing is an effective policy mechanism for African health system strengthening.

Michael Clarke was Professor of Defence Studies at King's College London from 1995 and was the Director General of the Royal United Services Institute from 2007 to 2015. He remains Visiting Professor at King's and also at the University of Exeter and is a Specialist Advisor both to the House of Commons Defence Committee and to the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy. In 2016 he began chairing an Inquiry into drone warfare on behalf of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Drones.

Camila Villard Duran is an Assistant Professor of Law at the University of São Paulo. She was an Associate Fellow of the Oxford-Princeton Global Leaders Fellowship Program run by the Global Economic Governance Programme at the University of Oxford and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University (2014–2016). Camila Villard Duran was awarded her joint-PhD degree in Law by the University of São Paulo and the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (2009–2012). She works on issues related to regulation of money and finance, international economic law, the sociology of economic law, and central bank swaps.

Ann Florini is Professor of Public Policy, School of Social Sciences, Singapore Management University, and Academic Director of SMU's Master of Tri-Sector Collaboration. She is also Non-resident Senior Fellow in the Foreign Policy Studies Program at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC. She is an authority on new approaches to global governance. Her work currently focuses on the roles of tri-sector collaborations involving government, civil society and the private sector in addressing global issues. Her books include China Experiments: From Local Innovation to National Reform (with Hairong Lai and Yeling Tan, 2012); The Right to Know: Transparency for an Open World (2007); The Coming Democracy: New Rules for Running a New World (2003); and The Third Force: The Rise of Transnational Civil Society (2000).

Thomas Hale is Associate Professor of Public Policy (Global Public Policy) at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford. His research explores how we can manage transnational problems effectively and fairly. He seeks to explain how political institutions evolve – or not – to face the challenges raised by globalization and interdependence, with a particular emphasis on environmental and economic issues. His books include Between Interests and Law: The Politics of Transnational Commercial Disputes (2015), Transnational Climate Change Governance (with Harriet Bulkeley et al., 2014) and Gridlock: Why Global Cooperation Is Failing When We Need It Most (with David Held and Kevin Young, 2013).

David Held is Master of University College, Durham and Professor of Politics and International Relations at Durham University. Among his publications are Gridlock: Why Global Cooperation Is Failing When We Need It Most (with Thomas Hale and Kevin Young, 2013), Cosmopolitanism: Ideals and Realities (2010), Globalization/Anti-Globalization (with Anthony McGrew, 2007), Models of Democracy (2006), Global Covenant (2004), Global Transformations: Politics, Economics and Culture (with Anthony McGrew, David Goldblatt and Jonathan Perraton, 1999), and Democracy and the Global Order: From the Modern State to Cosmopolitan Governance (1995). His main research interests include the study of globalization, changing forms of democracy and the prospects of regional and global governance. He is a Director of Polity Press, which he co-founded in 1984, and General Editor of Global Policy.

Lucas Kello is Senior Lecturer in International Relations at Oxford University. He serves as Director of the Cyber Studies Programme, a major research and teaching initiative on all aspects of the modern information society. He is also Co-Director of the university's interdisciplinary Centre for Doctoral Training in Cyber Security.

Andreas Klasen is Professor of International Business at Offenburg University, Senior Honorary Fellow at Durham University and Visiting Fellow at Newcastle Business School. Previously, he was a Partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers and Managing Director of the official German Export Credit and Investment Insurance Agency. Until 2014, he also served as Berne Union Vice President. His research focuses on trade, innovation and economic development.

Kyle McNally is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in the Global Policy Institute at Durham University. His current research is focused on humanitarianism, global health governance and forced migration policy. His publications include an upcoming book entitled Internal Displacement (2017) and Lessons from Intervention in the 21st Century (co-editor and contributing author, 2014). Kyle McNally was awarded his PhD from Durham University and his MSc in Development Studies from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

James Orbinski has over 30 years of international experience in humanitarian medicine, having worked in situations of war, genocide, famine and epidemic disease. He was international president of Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders from 1998 to 2001. He is Professor and CIGI Research Chair in Global Health at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, Laurier University. He is also a full Professor at the University of Toronto Dalla Lana School of Public Health. His research touches on humanitarian medicine, emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, global health governance, and the global health impacts of climate change.

Tom Pegram is Senior Lecturer in Global Governance at University College London and the Deputy Director of the UCL Global Governance Institute. He completed his DPhil in Politics from Nuffield College, University of Oxford. His research interests lie at the boundaries of global governance, international organizations, and the transnational politics of human rights implementation. He is co-editor of Human Rights, State Compliance, and Social Change: Assessing National Human Rights Institutions (with Ryan Goodman, 2012) and his scholarly articles have appeared in International Organization, European Journal of International Relations, Human Rights Quarterly and Governance, among others.

Taylor St John is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at PluriCourts, University of Oslo, and a Senior Research Associate at the Global Economic Governance Programme, University of Oxford. Her research concerns the international architecture for investment dispute resolution and the politics of foreign investment more generally. Her book The Rise of Investor–State Arbitration: Law, Politics, and Unintended Consequences will be published in 2017.

Kevin Young is an Associate Professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and works on the political economy of financial market reg­ulation, elite networks and transnational governance. He is co-author of Gridlock: Why Global Cooperation Is Failing When We Need it Most (2013) and has published widely, in journals such as Regulation and Governance, Journal of Banking Regulation, Review of International Political Economy, Business and Politics, Socio-Economic Review and Public Administration.


There are increasing signs that the liberal international order created after 1945 now verges on collapse. While populism and nationalism are on the rise across the world, asserting the claims of particular peoples and places, we are more linked than ever before. These links require global cooperation and careful management. And yet we are not rising to this challenge. A series of global collective action problems, from the spread of weapons of mass destruction to climate change, threaten to render our societies weaker, poorer, and more violent. There is a substantial risk that humankind may not end the twenty-first century as well as we began it.

How these existential challenges are governed, and why their governance has been so inadequate, has preoccupied us for many years. In Gridlock: Why Multilateralism Is Failing When We Need It Most, published with Kevin Young in 2013, we sought to understand and explain the achievements and the limits of the postwar order. We concluded that deep structural trends, rooted in the extraordinary success of international cooperation and the transformations it allowed, now undermined its continued effectiveness and responsiveness. We set out a bleak picture of how gridlock paralyses multilateral governance, with dangerous implications.

This grim picture has stayed with us, and in some cases darkened further. However, it does not capture significant anomalies to the argument. Across world politics, some resilient pathways endure, and new pathways of change unfold. Over the last three years we have explored and examined these exceptions, and tried to understand the balance between the pressures of gridlock, on the one side, and pressures for change, on the other. Without understanding these trends, we cannot begin to break the cycle of gridlock.

Beyond Gridlock is distinctive in two ways. First, it offers a unique and comprehensive insight into political stasis and change at the global level – what works, and why, and where. Second, it has been written in an innovative way, drawing on the expertise of outstanding academics and policy experts working in a diverse range of problem areas. We brought this group together twice, once in Durham in 2015 and once in Oxford in 2016. These were far-ranging and intense discussions in which expertise on specific topics came into dialogue with arguments concerning cross-cutting global trends. This process laid the foundations for the work on this book, which began as an edited volume of essays but ended as a highly integrated, multi-authored text that deploys jointly developed theoretical and analytic tools. The result is an original and comparative analysis of the fundamental challenges of global governance in the twenty-first century.

We would like to thank all those who contributed in these discussions. These include all the contributors to this book, as well as Oliver Stuenkel, Vanda Felbab-Brown, Seyom Brown, Eva Maria Nag, Robert Wade, and Saba Mahmood. We also thank the Global Challenges Foundation for their support of the two workshops. Finally, Polity Press has been hugely supportive; we thank everyone there for their professionalism.

Thomas Hale and David Held

Oxford and Durham, 2017