Global Governance and Technology

2001 Occasional Paper
By Juma, Calestous

Rapid globalization of firms and markets is leading inexorably to the globalization of rules governing business. Many of these global rules on international trade, environment or security relate to technology. Technology plays a major role in economic and human development and can help the poor in the developing world. The most important decisions taken by the international community are taken within intergovernmental organizations (IGOs). Promoting international development is one of the tasks of many IGOs. The growing recognition of the role of science and technology in international development raises a number of questions on the ability of these institutions to promote growth in developing countries. An examination of sectors such as health, agriculture and environment reveal a bewildering array of international organizations but little success in technology development programs. Many of them have turned their attention to advocacy over narrower issues such as the presumed impact of intellectual property protection on development, in general, and human welfare, in particular. This attention represents the interest of these organizations to engage with issues related to technology. However, the approaches have not always been very informative due to the limited understanding of the complex issues related to technology development. From this broad frame we derive a subsidiary argument that the failure to outfit technology to the needs of the poor countries is largely a result of the current inadequacies in the global governance system to guide the process of technological change.