Sustainable World Order in the 21st Century
Can the competition between countries change into cooperation? Why have the mechanisms of power hegemony and ‘democracy clubs’become outdated? Where might the policy of cultural discrimination lead? On October 19th Harald Muller, Executive Director and Head of Research Department of the Frankfurt Peace Research Institute, gave a lecture at the HSE .
In his lecture at the HSE Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs Professor Muller shared with the audience the key ideas of his recently published book ‘Building a New World Order. Sustainable Policies for the Future'. One of the main ideas of his concept is ‘sustainable governance'. It should be achieved to ensure the existence the world in the 21st century. ‘Sustainable governance'should provide, on one hand, a certain level of environmental protection, and on the other hand, global security for humanity, which consists not of countries, but of individuals.
The professor tried to outline the areas which he considers ineffective in terms of methods of international politics and concepts of political philosophy and instead think of conditions where political violence could be minimized and international relations could evolve.
Is this ‘sustainable world governance'possible? Yes, it is, Muller says, since a modern government should seek security and welfare for its citizens, and those problems cannot be solved at a national level. Countries are traditionally seen as rivals. According to Muller, this concept is outdated, and power competition should change into cooperation:there are more and more problems in the modern world that can only be solved through joint effort.
Among the ineffective mechanisms that have discredited themselves, Muller included ideas of hegemony and ‘democracy alliances'- clubs of Western countries considering themselves to be standing at a higher stage of evolution and thus having the right to dictate their view of the world to the others for whom entrance to the club is closed. The model of a ‘powerful hegemon'does not work, since on one hand its area of influence is always limited, so it is never a hegemon in the true sense of the word, and on the other hand, the existence of a hegemon generates powers which oppose it, and these powers are, for example, flying airplanes into skyscrapers.
The world itself, which is a world made up of individual countries, is not perfect, Muller believes. It is anarchic since it doesn't have a court which could regulate relations between rival countries. In a situation where players know that other players (and themselves too) primarily care about their own interests, trust is impossible, and yet trust is essential for ‘sustainable governance'.
According to Muller, the world of countries is now in a process of serious change that is fraught with conflicts. China and India are developing faster than the USA, European countries and Japan. It is very probable that in the near future the political centre of the planet will move to Asia. The contemporary world is multicultural. The western world and the western model of development are not seen as unconditionally good. Division of countries into ‘good'and ‘bad', created by the USA, faces tough criticism. Non-Western countries and cultures insist that their individualities and values have equal rights to Western ones. Those voices have to be heard, since cultural discrimination is always a breeding ground for terrorism. The modern world needs to dialogue and conduct responsible policies. The clash of civilizations described by prominent political scientist Samuel Huntington is not, according to the professor, fatal - it is just a result of shortsighted politics.
Muller has tried to outline the conditions where the 21st century world could hope for ‘sustainable governance'. According to the professor, there are four of them. Firstly, the big players of international politics - the US, China, India, Russia, Europe, Japan and Brazil - should be in a constant process of equal negotiations (since the ‘progressive West'is in the past), respecting vital interests of each other, not undertaking military interventions and unilateral strategies realized at the cost of infringement of others'interests. Secondly, politics of cooperation, ‘mutual acceptance and respect', based on supernational law, should become the standard for international relations. Thirdly, the international community should, through joint effort, settle the conflicts in the Middle East, as well as Southern and Eastern Asia. Fourthly, development and strengthening of supernational law is necessary, and international NGOs should take part in its creation and improvement.
Sergey Stepanishev, HSE News Service
Photos by Viktoria Silayeva