The Shifting Balance of Power and the Future of Sovereign States

The Shifting Balance of Power and the Future of Sovereign States

A Speech by Hans Köchler, Founder and President, International Progress Organization, delivered at the 7th Rhodes Forum, October 10, 2009

One of the key factors of the present global instability is the so-called “global war on terror,” which was unilaterally launched by the United States – with large-scale use of force against Iraq and Afghanistan and subsequent regional destabilization. This development has led to an escalation of tensions at the global level and may have undermined efforts at civilizational dialogue for a long time. The global financial crisis has injected further volatility into the international system and has significantly weakened the leading Western power’s strategy of “reshaping” the global order according to its own ideology and in conformity with its interests. The shifting balance of power we are witnessing today may also be due to an “imperial overstretch” of that country’s military and financial capabilities. The political and military developments triggered by the events of 2001 and the subsequent economic instability may have accelerated the development towards a multipolar world order in which national sovereignty will acquire a more important role than during the transitory phase of political unipolarity when – immediately after the collapse of the cold war’s bipolar order – the great powers in the Security Council rallied around the United States as global hegemon. An important aspect of multipolarity is the emergence of the “global regions,” which may create a counterbalance to the strategies aimed at the perpetuation of global hegemony. If the multilateral philosophy of the United Nations Organization is to survive the next decades, the world organization – and in particular the decision-making procedures in the Security Council – will have to be reformed along regional lines.

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