in: Imme Scholz / Lilian Busse / Thomas Fues (eds.), Transboundary Cooperation and Global Governance for Inclusive Sustainable Development (Festschrift Dirk Messner), Baden-Baden: Nomos Verlag, 207-213
Germany’s western city of Duisburg is one of the main end points of the New Silk Road with 60 freight container trains per week arriving from China, still half of them going back empty. China’s New Silk Road probably is the biggest state-driven international investment endeavour since the Marshall Plan of the United States after World War II. But Duisburg is also one of the places where in 1995 the delicate silk threads of new ideas on international cooperation for the global common good began to be spun into a broader concept of global governance. By their critical examination and further development of the approach of the Commission on Global Governance, Dirk Messner and Franz Nuscheler, both then with the Institute for Development and Peace in Duisburg, introduced quite a new thinking (the ‘Duisburg School’) into the German discourse on development and international cooperation. They spoke of shared sovereignties through the transfer of competencies, the intensification of international cooperation by means of international regimes governed by binding rules, and a foreign policy geared to the global common good (Messner & Nuscheler, 1996). Their ideas inspired an aid community that was moving beyond a primary fixation on reducing poverty by implementing reasonable projects and programmes in developing countries. The ensuing new development discourse focussed on global structural policy instead. However, the optimism of the 1990s which culminated in the United Nations Millennium Declaration was quickly challenged by the war on terror after 9/11 and the resurgence of geopolitical tensions. In the aftermath, the realist school in international relations regained sway in academic debates and political practice.