Global Governance and the Creative Economy: The Developing versus Developed Country Dichotomy Revisited

Rostam J. Neuwirth


The past century has seen drastic changes, and the pace with which these changes occur still appears to be accelerating. It is not only us as individuals who have difficulties in following these perceptual processes and in finding the appropriate conceptual responses and actions. The international legal and institutional framework put in place by previous generations equally seems no longer to be capable of providing the efficient responses needed to tackle the imminent global challenges and to secure a sustainable development in the future. Put briefly and more generally, the gap between our perceptual processes and the corresponding conceptual responses is widening. As a result, it appears that the perennial paradoxical struggle between continuity and change, which underlies the fundamental problem of preserving the integrity of the law, has reached a new level. As a paradox, it is in view of the absence of a global platform on which a truly global debate on the future of our societies can unfold that we need first to find a commonly shared vocabulary of concepts. Such shared vocabulary helps both to establish a global forum and to frame the debate, because the procedural aspects and the substantive arguments are intrinsically linked. This also means a twofold task, namely to coin new concepts that better encompass our present perceptions, and to abandon those which no longer suit them. In positive terms, the present article therefore advocates the joint use of the novel concepts of “global governance” and the “creative economy” while, in negative terms, calls for the abandonment of the widely used “developed versus developing country” dichotomy. Global governance and the creative economy are chosen for their special features related to paradoxical modes of thinking, better to encompass change and the accelerating modes of the perception of that change. They both seem to be better suited to the complex realities that we draw up through the perceptions generated by our various sensory instruments. By contrast, the “developed versus developing country” dichotomy serves as an example of the outdated mode of exclusively binary thinking, both in terms of a statistical and factual analysis as well as in a survey of the most prominent international legal documents. It is argued that this conceptual distinction obstructs the basis for a broader global solidarity, by artificially dividing the world into so-called “developing countries”, on the one hand, and “developed countries”, on the other. In summary, the facts and data underlying both lines of arguments appear to be better suited to our striving for a more unitary and coherent approach to the solution of many urgent global problems. Finally, this line of argument is also supported by a meta-juridical consideration of change, which, ultimately, is believed to support the claim that ‘we all want to live in “developing countries”’.

Key words: Global governance; Creative economy; Change; Sustainable development; International law; United Nations; Institutional reform; Comparative law


Global governance; Creative economy; Change; Sustainable development; International law; United Nations; Institutional reform; Comparative law

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