Governing the Americas: Assessing Multilateral Institutions

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Governing the Americas: Assessing Multilateral Institutions

Edited by Gordon Mace, Jean-Philippe Thérien, and Paul Hasla
Lynne Rienner, 2007
317 pp. $63.00
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Fourteen years ago, President Bill Clinton hosted a summit of 34 leaders of the Americas, and all agreed to negotiate a Free Trade Area of the Americas in a decade. That deadline passed quietly with no agreement. This comprehensive survey of the state of inter-American institutions shows that multilateralism in the Americas is not dead, but it is receding after a third wave of progress. The first wave began when the United States held the first conference of the Americas, in 1889, to promote free trade. The second (and most institutionally innovative) wave began in 1947 with the Rio Pact and the formation of the Organization of American States and continued through the establishment of the Inter-American Development Bank. The third wave began in 1991, when OAS members started to build a collective defense of their democracies. Mace, Thérien, Haslam, and 12 other experts analyze the state of governance in the hemisphere in the areas of security, democracy, human rights, trade, and development. Thomas Legler and Bernard Duhaime describe the progress of democracy-related institutions and the progress of human rights, respectively. Other authors assess the evolution of subregional free-trade regimes -- from Mercosur, with its European-style institutions, to laissez-faire NAFTA. More disappointing, as shown by Richard Feinberg, Haslam, and Albert Berry, has been the failure to link trade with development in order to reduce poverty. This excellent book underscores why international institutions are needed in the Americas -- and why the time has come for them to be reinvigorated.