The Pledging World Order

There is an emerging world order characterized by voluntary pledges within a legal or “legal-ish” architecture of commitments. The pledging world order incubated in the international response to climate change but has developed in diverse sites that cross the public-private divide and blur the lines between them. Pledging as a legal technology is distinctly underwhelming—facilitating incremental, non-disruptive action—but it may be the best available approach for climate change. As a world order, pledging is a both a symptom of and a contributor to the dismantling of the Westphalian and Post-war orders. It erodes distinctions between public and private; multilateralism and localism; the global North and South; law and not-law; and progress and stasis. It gives no pride of place to public actors, spaces, or values. Normative responses will embrace this technocratic, neoliberal logic of action, reclaim a logic of publicness, or somehow mediate between these logics.