The 'Good Governance' Crusade in the Third World: A Rich, Complex Narrative - Magic Wand or Smoke Screen

4 Pages Posted: 25 Jun 2007

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Date Written: April 20, 2007


The project of governance, which has been heralded as a contemporary advance in the development of international law, has a very old lineage. Since the beginnings of the modern discipline of international law in the sixteenth century, international law has devised a number of doctrines directed at shaping and reforming the government of the non-European state. Most typically, this project of reform involves two elements that are often characterized as inseparable: the furtherance of commerce and the advancement of civilization. The non-European world has, on the whole, been rendered non-sovereign by international law over the course of the last five centuries. It is precisely in the non-European world therefore, that international law can, as in the case of doctrine of government, extend and expand its reach, and develop and refine a series of paradigms directed towards creating good government. The domestic sphere, which is entirely immune to international law in the case of European states, is entirely vulnerable to international law in the case of non-European states.

The Article argues that good governance exerts an extraordinarily powerful influence on the thinking of the international community in part because it is connected with human rights, the universal language in this age of rights. This link between governance and human rights suggests, furthermore, that the Third World state is the focus of concern: it is the aberrant Third World state which both violates rights and engages in bad governance. The Article challenges the Western assumption that the problems of the Third World lie within the Third World itself. It critiques the stance that the problem of addressing international justice can be largely achieved through the project of good governance which would reform the Third World state.

Suggested Citation

Maogoto, Jackson Nyamuya, The 'Good Governance' Crusade in the Third World: A Rich, Complex Narrative - Magic Wand or Smoke Screen (April 20, 2007). Available at SSRN: or

Jackson Nyamuya Maogoto (Contact Author)

University of Manchester ( email )

Oxford Road
Manchester M13 9PL, M139PL
United Kingdom

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