Rethinking Post-Cold War International Order
Margallah Papers, Special Issue, 2009, pp 1-21
There is no doubt that global power is diffused today in multiple ways, and it will be more diffused in future, but this does not mean that we have effectively entered a unipolar era. However, at least the beginning of the end of post-Cold War unilateral period led by the United States is certainly visible with the emergence of new regional powers and influential non-state actors. This article argues that as power in the international system gets more diffused with the emergence of newer, potentially positivist state and non-state actors and forces, the existing institutions of global governance have to be reformed and consolidated, newer, more representative global governance entities must be created, and traditional, Western-dominated version of multilateralism must be replaced by fairer and more pluralistic form of multilateralism—all of this to accommodate the mutually compatible or competitive aspirations and interests of all the important old and new players and forces at the international stage in political, security, economic and political domains.

While the actual process of transforming the international system may not have begun yet, creative new ideas are certainly being expressed increasingly to lay down the conceptual basis for such transformation in order to accommodate the interests and aspirations of new state actors and non-state social and business forces. Such a transformed international order should surely be grounded in much fairer form of multilateralism, not the Western version of multilateralism that has remained in vogue since the Second World War. For the latter’s moral basis is significantly eroded by recent neo-conservative unilateralism of the United States, and its legitimacy is seriously questioned by the rise of Asian powers such as China with a corresponding shift in global power constellations.

Today, the international community is pluralistic in every respect, politically, economically, socially, cultural and religiously. It is but natural, therefore, that institutions of global governance would have to reflect this pluralism. Democracy, free market economy and human rights are universal ideals, and the entire world must march together to realize them. The pace towards realizing such ideals can be different from nation to nation and culture to culture. The crises at hand, from terrorism to global warming, are truly transnational in character, so is the human quest for peace, freedom and prosperity. Addressing such crises and realizing such quest requires a pluralistic global governance model and fairer form of multilateralism, amid all the recent shifts in global politics. Full Text