Home    Multimedia    Press    Resources    Events    Contact Us    Who We Are   
think.


Multilateralism and the Shifting Global Balance of Power
January 2010

Leading experts from a wide range of specialties recently weighed in on the future implications of shifting global power dynamics on international cooperation at a recent Stanley Foundation conference at Princeton University.

The global balance of power has been shifting with the rise of countries like China and India. Asia has become critically important to future peace and prosperity. And the solution to any contemporary problem requires the involvement of many different stakeholders: affected nations, nations contributing to problems, key powers, civil society, the private sector, etc.

The conference sponsors—the Stanley Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson School’s Project on the Future of Multilateralism, the International Institutions and Global Governance Program of the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Centre for Global Governance Innovation—perceive a growing disjunction between our inherited multilateral institutions and the daunting scope and complexity of today’s global governance agenda. How will the world community deal with all the difficult problems on the agenda?

One answer is to acknowledge that international cooperation will be spread across multiple institutions, institutional types, and levels. The task will be to use these various multilateral pieces to the best effect, rather than trying to draw a clear organizational diagram for the international system. Experts have started calling this "messy multilateralism."

The key, then, is a clear understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of different multilateral mechanisms. If we know what an institution does best—and what it does less well—then their efforts can be combined in a complementary way.

With the Princeton conference taking place just a few weeks after the vexed UN climate change summit in Copenhagen, participants were mindful that despite intensified globalization and interdependence, there has not been a commensurate shift in international political dynamics.

I was reminded of President Obama’s address to the UN General Assembly last fall, in which he described this very problem:

Meeting in this hall, we come from many places, but we share a common future. No longer do we have the luxury of indulging our differences to the exclusion of the work that we must do together.

We have to hope that the world’s leaders overcome these differences and, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has put it, "turn commonality of interests into common action." Such cooperation is the best hope for a peaceful and prosperous future.

David Shorr   


Share: Email Facebook Twitter
HIGHLIGHTS
Courier Courier
In the newest issue of Courier, we share an amazing (and secret) diplomatic effort to secure dangerous nuclear material in Kazakhstan. Two ambassadors discuss how to make our world safer from nuclear terrorism. You can also discover more than you ever wanted to know about climate change negotiations and about the tension within the United Nations that makes it difficult to be efficient. Our final piece looks at the potential for mass atrocities in the Dominican Republic.

The full Spring 2014 issue PDF (2.0 MB) Subscribe for FREE


New Video New Video
Ahead of the third Nuclear Security Summit, the Stanley Foundation produced a 13-minute video looking at what needs to be done to stop terrorist groups from acquiring enough fissile material to make a bomb. The foundation talked with over a dozen diverse and distinguished experts from the Nuclear Security Governance Experts Group and the Fissile Materials Working Group to see how today's patchwork of voluntary arrangements can be forged into a long-lasting system. Watch the video.

the latest the latest
Our bimonthly newsletter highlights new resources for knowing more about preventing nuclear terrorism as well as stopping mass atrocities before they start. We also take a look at how the shifting clout between emerging and established powers poses one of the most complex challenges of our time.

In the latest, you’ll also find many extras—from upcoming events to multimedia resources. Sign up now

Now Showing Now Showing
This Now Showing event-in-a-box toolkit Before the Killing Begins: The Politics of Mass Violence considers how early preventive strategies by governments and the international community should build much-needed capacities within countries, and make it harder for leaders to resort to violence. It aims to encourage discussion of how future efforts might better protect populations under threat, giving new resolve to the promise of never again. Sign Up.

Receive Materials Receive Materials
The Stanley Foundation publishes policy briefs, analytical articles, and reports on a number of international issues.
Sign Up

Watch and Learn Watch and Learn
Stanley Foundation events, talks, video reports, and segments from our Now Showing event-in-a-box series can now be viewed on YouTube. To receive regular updates on our video posts, please subscribe today.

Facebook