For several years the experts have been underscoring the need to reshape the system of international relations. Some even argue that a new geopolitical order must be established. These views are yet to be practically executed, which really aggravates the issue of global scale governance. Reforms with the UN and other prominent international institutions are being proposed, but to no avail. Even an issue of increasing the number of permanent members of the UNSC was stalled. Therefore, ideas of analysts in this regard evoke fascination.
New approach in geopolitics: from differences to common position
Number of ”complains” on the state of global geopolitics has grown. There is also a constant and serious criticism of the mechanisms regulating international relations. Extensive analysis is being provided on inefficient activity of the likes of UN, NATO, World Trade Organization, World Bank, Council of Europe, OSCE and others. It is thought-provoking that criticism and pessimistic position is well justified, because no emerging conflicts, controversial geopolitical situations or international strife find their effective resolution lately.
Politicians of the big powers acknowledge the situation. Barack Obama for example, frequently spoke of the need to reform international organizations in his 2008 presidential campaign. He reasoned that system of international relations in place since WWII was no longer effective and structure and functions of the organizations were inconsistent with the demands of the modern age. New international institutions have to be devised to withstand the threats of rapidly changing world. Otherwise, the existing organizations need to undergo profound changes (see: Stewart Patrick. The Unruled World / ”Foreign Affairs”, Edition 1, 2014).
Russia’s former Foreign Minister (1998-2004) and former Secretary of the Security Council (2004-2007) Igor Ivanov also underscores the need for new geopolitical order. He has been more specific by estimating that the process of renewal of the system of international relations would be a lengthy process.
Ivanov writes: ”…the process of fundamental rebuilding of the world system that started in the 1980s is yet to be completed; apparently, we are just halfway through the lengthy historical era. Much of transformation trends are only gaining momentum; their interconnected impact will only be completely felt in several decades” (see: Игорь Иванов. Какая дипломатия нужна России в XXI веке? / ”Россия в глобальной политике”, Edition 4, 2011).
Russian politician goes on to conclude that in 2001 there was a chance to implement radical reforms in the system of international relations, amend the international law and reshape the structure of the UN (reference made to September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks – author).
Nonetheless, Washington actions, centered on the national interest agenda, precluded these developments, entailing impasse in regional conflicts, inflation of America’s military budget and growth of anti-American sentiments around the world. Thus, ”tactical diplomatic victories were swiftly replaced by strategic defeats” (see: same source).
Interestingly, West and Asia (e.g. China and India, Singapore, Malaysia and others) share this view (see: Ramesh Thakur. The United Nations and the United States / ”Russia in Global Affairs”, Edition 4, 2011). S. Patrick, whose article was referred to earlier, also believes tangible efforts were made in the direction of honoring the promises made by Obama.
Regional organizations and global venue: consistency chances
Then, what the solution could be? According to Stewart Patrick’s forecast, additional agreements need to be signed to complement existing arrangements. Regional and sub-regional institutions must be established. State and private sector partnership has to be bolstered. Unofficial code of conduct should be formed (see: S. Patrick’s abovementioned article). What should be the mechanism that we build upon? This is the opaque side of the issue because these processes have started to surface some 10 years ago. Nonetheless, countries of the world have done little to that end, and there were concrete reasons for that.
The analysts Ian Bremmer and Gordon believe that collective global leadership is practically inconceivable because the countries have widely divergent interests. Geopolitical forces became dispersed. Interestingly, the number of multilateral organizations is on the rise. Collective action is no longer happening within the UN or other international organizations. Governments opt to ensure situational interests through different regional formats. Ultimately, the changing circumstances lead to the demise of the very organizations or their transformation into a new format.
The overall picture is dreadful. Coalitions of nations with no interests in sustainable cooperation and with prevalent non-acceptance are being formed, abundant with contradictions. One of the examples could be the ”antipiracy armada” in the Indian Ocean involving naval vessels of various countries that may have conflicting geopolitical agenda, such as the U.S., China, India, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and others. Such alliances are temporary and may prove to be insufficient.
It must also be added that G-8, G-20, BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), Shanghai Cooperation Organization and others appear inefficient. All of this has produced ineffective governance and oversight mechanisms. The world seems to be divided into various spheres of influence and each organization aims to dominate a given field, such as finances, healthcare, environment and so on. The process can conditionally be called ”governance in pieces” (see: previous source).
Finally, there is one aspect to be emphasized. Regional organizations need to be considered. The point being made is that there are many institutions capable of resolving arising problems and enabling regional-level integration. On the one hand, this spurs competition among those organizations, while on the other hand, suggests the need for coordination of their activity within the UN. Such an option would provide an opportunity for significant enhancement of the UN’s effectiveness.
In reality, the problem that has persisted for years is yet to be resolved. There is little possibility for the regional bodies to consolidate the results of their activity in the framework of the UN and adopt final decisions. Therefore, shaping a new system of relations on the global scale has become a daunting task plentiful of contradictions.
S. Patrick thus comes to a conclusion that novelty in terms of cooperation formats has to be introduced. Deeper engagement of the private sector can be encouraged. Different and effective cooperation models within some informal guidelines can be explored. These changes could possibly serve as a foundation for further reforms within the UN.
Such an approach may prove to be successful in achieving positive results, in terms of global governance. This surely does not denote dominance and leadership of one single nation, much like in the XX century. Nonetheless, under the circumstances, ”good enough” governance would be better than nothing. Regrettably, world’s biggest powers are not considering a reshape of international relations centered on this theme. Propositions akin of the aforementioned remain as unfulfilled ideas. Time, however, rushes by and spares no one and ultimately, it is the humanity that ends up on the losing side.