Global governance' refers to 'government-like' activities in the international system. It is performed by a panoply of constantly-changing institutions, including international law, international and regional organisations, and NGOs. Political theory disagrees on the extent to which global governance systems can support co-operation or prioritise the interests of the weak over the powerful. Reviewing the performance of various global governance institutions from a pro-poor perspective, the author considers that, although certain institutions have made pro-poor achievements, the current system of global governance delivers its functions inconsistently, and serves the interests of wealthy states more often than those of the poor. The paper concludes by envisaging several alternative scenarios for the future of global governance. Whilst the sovereign state system continues to make many collective action problems appear intractable, certain trends, such as the establishment of the ICC, and the increasing influence of some developing countries in global institutions, give cause for cautious optimism.