Mapping Governance Transfer by Regional Organizations: A Global Script in Regional Colours
In this paper, we explore and compare the trajectories of regional organizations’ (RO) efforts in prescribing, promoting and protecting governance institutions on human rights, democracy, rule of law, and the fight against corruption in their member states over time and across regions. This quantitative comparison enables us to discuss the diverse approaches in promoting ‘good governance’ institutions; whether similar criteria are adopted or whether regional path dependencies prevail; and to what extent we can observe the convergence to and the diffusion of a ‘global script’. Empirically, our findings suggest that governance transfer by regional organizations may indeed follow a global trend. Regional organizations around the globe increasingly prescribe governance standards. The initial prescription of governance standards tends to be followed by a subsequent elaboration of abstract norms into more precise norms and further to the broadening of scope of both content and instruments over time. However, these processes are not uniform, and we find significant variation between regions and amongst the four standards. Given these regional variations, it seems unlikely that regional organizations simply download a central governance script or pick and choose from a global menu. We conclude that there is a tentative ‘global script’ of setting governance standards, but regional particularities nevertheless persist. Regional organizations may selectively read from a global script and translate parts into their local context in accordance with their specific functional and normative demands, and thereby ‘co-author the script’ to some extent.