Navigating A Turbulent World

For much of the 20th century, the United States was the undisputed leader of the developed world but changes in the international landscape have reshaped its standing.

Certainly the US remains a predominant force on the international scene, however the rise of globalization, emerging market strength and turbulence across the globe has diminished its influence, according to a new paper from Fen Osler Hampson and Paul Heinbecker of the Center for International Governance Innovation.

“New, informal partnerships in the realms of security, economics and global governance seem likely to emerge among countries that are not themselves ‘great powers’ by the traditional definition, but that nonetheless have both compelling strategic interests in a peaceful, prosperous world and the diplomatic and, sometimes, military capacity and political disposition to make a significant difference,” they write.

Cracks In The International System
Stewart M. Patrick of the Council of Foreign Relations discusses the recent meeting of the Council of Councils, a CFR-sponsored event on global governance, and wonders whether the international community is fracturing.

Patrick echoes the view that in turbulent times when “the international community is becoming more fragmented across issue areas, old and new, and that comprehensive solutions may be less relevant than piecemeal, ad hoc approaches to global governance.”

He cites “the shortcomings of multilateral action” and the international community’s “inability to stop the ongoing bloodletting in Syria” as a case study.

Financial Crisis Diminished Allure Of Globalization
Stephen King of The Financial Times comments on the impact of the financial crisis on globalization, writing that globalization’s past was one in which it “appeared to deliver rising living standards for all, there was no conflict: our leaders could simultaneously support the architecture of globalisation while taking the plaudits for prosperity at home.”

However, he says, times have changed. “It is not so much that nations are becoming deliberately more protectionist. Rather, the cheerleaders for globalisation have gone into hiding. They can no longer so easily claim that the forces of internationalisation have brought benefits to all,” King contends.

Weakening Of Globalization Seen In Rise Of Trade Disputes
As the Group of 20 (G20) begins work under the leadership of Russia, support for globalization and international cooperation on development issues is waning, reports Reuters.

And no area is more representative of this trend than trade, particularly the high number of trade disputes brought before the World Trade Organization last year. In 2012, there were 27 such disputes – two more than in 2010 and 2011 combined, according to Humayun Shahryar, chief executive of Auvest Capital Management.

Filling The Leadership Vacuum
What is needed now more than ever is leadership. Mike Callaghan of Australia’s Lowy Institute says the G20 has made progress but is in need of a “relaunch” if it is to remain relevant.

“Nine key lessons from previous summits suggest that the G20 should develop an explicit multi-tracked approach where a wide range of issues continue to be discussed and advanced through ministers and officials. But the leaders’ meeting (and communique) must concentrate on a few key issues. The G20 must maintain its focus and not lose its inherent strength, namely the direct engagement of leaders,” advises Callaghan.

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