“International Organizations and Peaceful Change: Theory and Practice”

The objective of this edited volume is to assess and discuss how international governmental organizations (IGOs) affect and influence the transformation of the current international order. We aim to provide both a diagnosis of the ability and means of international organizations to contribute to order transitions and to suggest ‘cures’ for the current shortcomings of international organizations in promoting peaceful change. By theoretically analyzing global and regional developments and critically scrutinizing how selected global international organizations contribute to peaceful change, we aim for this volume  to be an invaluable source for students, scholars and policymakers interested in peaceful change and international organizations as well as current changes in the international order more generally.

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Organizers: T.V. Paul (McGill University), Anders Wivel (University of Copenhagen), and Kai He (Griffith University)

“Resurging Great Power Conflicts and Changing Regional Orders”

Organized by T.V. Paul (McGill) and Markus Kornprobst (Vienna Diplomatic Academy)

Great power rivalries are once again at the forefront of international politics, although taking a different form than we witnessed during the Cold War. Following a period of nearly two decades of peace after the collapse of the Soviet Union, what we are witnessing today is a curious resurgence of great power competition in both old and new domains. This include competition in the world’s key regions. These interactions have generated changed dynamics in regional orders in recent years as rivalry becomes the dominant mode of interaction among great powers. Regional states have made use of the opportunities provided by the new great power rivalry to further their security and economic interests. How different are today’s rivalries from the Cold war era when the US-Soviet rivalry defined the contours of many regional conflicts? When the Cold War ended some regional conflicts were settled (e.g. Cambodia, Nicaragua, Southern Africa), while others persisted (Israel-Palestine, South Asia and the Korean Peninsula), showing that systemic forces are only one critical variable that determine conflict and cooperation in the regions. These variations need an assessment on their own merit now that we have the luxury of perspective on both Cold War rivalries and can perceive the contours us new ones. The current great power order is characterized by economically interdependent rising China, using economic, technological and military instruments to gain ascendency, and a declining Russia attempting to shape regional and global orders using the formidable military and diplomatic capacity Moscow retains. The US efforts to restrict China’s goal of achieving hegemony by 2050, especially through the Belt and Road Initiative, asymmetrical technological superiority and militarization of the South China Sea, are generating conflict, but of a different type than we saw during the Cold War. Is the scholarship on systemic/regional interactions, mainly developed during the Cold War era sufficient to understand the new dynamics? What does the past tell us of the present and the future? What new tools we need to explain patterns of regional orders and the impact of systemic rivalries on these orders and vice versa?

Great Power Rivalry Workshop Program

Organizer: T.V. Paul (McGill University)

Soft Balancing in the Regions: Is Peaceful Change Possible?

(For a special journal issue)

The US decline and retrenchment is increasing the importance of regional dynamics across the international system. Over the past decade, IR scholars have described and conceptualized this development as e.g., “de-centrered globalism”, a “multi-order world”, a “multiplex world”, or a multicultural “no one’s world”, but the links between the regional and global levels and the roles and functions of regional institutions in power politics continue to be poorly understood. This roundtable uses the analytical lens of soft balancing – i.e., attempts at restraining a threatening power through diplomatic and institutional de-legitimation – to explore these links. Soft balancing has been used extensively to understand developments at the great power level, but its focus on diplomatic and institutional strategies holds considerable potential for explaining how rising powers, middle powers and smaller states seek to navigate the emerging international order. Participants discuss developments in the Indo-Pacific, Latin and South America, Asia, Africa, and Europe to answer questions such as: What are the characteristics of soft balancing in the regions? How do regional actors apply different soft balancing strategies? When and under what conditions will soft balancing strategies be effective? How does soft balancing impact regional and global orders?
Organized by T.V. Paul (McGill); Kai He (Griffith); Anders Wivel (Copenhagen)