The rising number of global problems includes many grave challenges. The recent record of international response, however, offers guides to "dos and don'ts" that can help muster effective action. Although few such lessons are widely known, a study of the record across fields yields rich insights. Essential for effective action are systems that constructively engage the multiplying number of state and nonstate players, that verify adherence to commitments, and that measure how well agreements—not just parties to them—are performing. Adequate funding for such activities-generally not forthcoming-is mandatory, as is support for poor nations that lack the capacity to participate. American leadership has been critical to progress. Recently, it has come into question. Even if the United States disagrees with certain multilateral approaches, however, it should pursue alternative remedies.

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About the Author
P. J. Simmons is associate at the Carnegie Endowment, where he launched the Managing Global Issues Project in 1997. Previously he founded the Environmental Change and Security Project at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He is the coeditor of Managing Global Issues: Lessons Learned (Carnegie Endowment 2001). In September Simmons will direct a public education project on global issues at the Heinz Center.