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Five Visions for a New International Order

The shift in global power to new (and more) actors has made the need to reform global institutions increasingly obvious. At last month's UN General Assembly meeting, world leaders advanced distinct approaches to the international order and its future.

MADRID – The post-World War II global institutional order is obsolete. This is not a recent development: the need for reform has been apparent for a long time. And yet, the necessary transformation is more comprehensive than many realize and more urgent than ever.

The reasons are not difficult to discern. Power is being transferred to new (and more) actors. Non-state actors have gained more influence. And international cooperation has shifted from a hard-law approach, based on clear rules and treaties, to one based on soft law and self-regulation, exemplified by the 2015 Paris climate agreement, which relies on Nationally Determined Contributions.

To maintain stability amid such changes, while upholding cooperation in crucial areas (such as non-proliferation and climate change), we must fundamentally rethink existing approaches and structures. Last month’s start of the United Nations General Assembly’s 76th session (UNGA 76) offered useful insights into where this process – and the international order itself – stands.

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