Current world challenges – from climate change to security, health emergencies, inequality and human rights – can only be addressed by global policies. The success of global policy action rests on two preconditions: international collaboration, through various forms of global governance, and expert knowledge guiding decisions. Both aspects overcome political cleavages. The politicisation of global issues between and within nation-states (or world regions) acts as a contrast to the all winners holistic technocratic approach to problem solving. Not only does it hamper collaboration but it also undermines the scientific base that should guide policy, especially when the sense of transnational community is undermined by nationalist or civilisational identities. Yet national pluralist liberal democracy is based on politicisation. How strong is the contrast between global collaboration and technocratic policy making on the one hand and democracy as we know it on the other? At the core of Ernst B. Haas’ lifelong work, such topics are today more relevant than ever and make a crucial contribution to the global debate. They are also more controversial than ever given the unclear role that democracy and pluralist interest representation has in this view, as either a favouring or obstructing condition for international collaboration and problem solving.
The conference, taking place 20 years after his passing, and to launch the newly created Ernst B. Haas Chair at the EUI, evaluates Haas’ contribution for the present time. It aims to go beyond the better known contribution on neo-functionalism to address other aspects of his work: the challenge of nationalist politicisation to effective international collaboration, the role of scientific knowledge and epistemic communities in shaping policies, and the role of technocratic/functional, but also of democratic, governance in shaping the conditions for global collaboration. As some of his closest colleagues noted in 2005, some aspects of Haas’ work remain insufficiently known (Ruggie et al. 2005, p. 272). This is still the case, which is a pity as his theory has much to offer in today’s context.
The goal of the conference is to bring together leading scholars to make a distinctive and original contribution on a number of research strands initiated by Haas but going beyond and critically reassess his elaboration. More than a conference on the scholar, it is one on where, today, his contribution has brought our theories on community and governance beyond the nation-state, including neglected aspects of Haas’ work – beyond neo-functionalism and integration – such as science, technocracy, nationalism and climate change.