Multilateralism Under Challenge? Power, International Order, and Structural Change

Sample Chapter
  • Edited Edward Newman, Ramesh Thakur and John Tirman

    multi final
    ISBN-10: 92-808-1129-0,
    ISBN-13: 978-92-808-1129-2
    United Nations University Press
    November 2006

    The principles, values and manifestations of multilateralism, including the United Nations, are under sustained scrutiny and assault. Their performance and effectiveness are questioned, as are their decision-making procedures and their representation according to 21st Century standards of accountability and democracy. All this has a corrosive effect on their legitimacy.

    Multilateralism under Challenge? explores the performance and future of multilateral approaches and institutions with reference to major global challenges such as international security, terrorism, HIV/AIDS, environmental sustainability, economic justice, human rights and humanitarian assistance.

    “For a concept and an institution that is under ‘challenge’ – if not duress – multilateralism is an essential component of international life, as the contributions to this volume clearly demonstrate. We need to make multilateralism more effective and more accountable, to be sure. This book advances constructive ideas on how to do just that.”
    —John G. Ruggie, Harvard University, USA

    “An essential reference on the current state of the debate on multilateralism and institutional reform. As a desktop reference it could prove invaluable. I know of no other book that attempts to assess what has happened to multilateralism in all aspects of contemporary international relations. It is this comprehensive approach – in which the security, environmental, humanitarian and economic aspects of international order are seen as bound together by a common approach, albeit one that is now under challenge – that will establish the comparative advantage of this book.”
    —James Mayall, Former Director, Centre of International Studies, University of Cambridge, UK

    “A key conclusion is that multilateralism is not in crisis but that its institutions, as currently constituted, are arguably under serious challenge. This book is likely to appeal to a wide audience of academics and politicians, representatives of civil society and others concerned with foreign policy issues and interested in multilateralism and global politics.”
    —Sally Morphet, Visiting Professor, University of Kent, UK


    Edward Newman is the Director of Studies on Conflict and Security in the Peace and Governance Programme of the United Nations University,Tokyo, Japan. Ramesh Thakur is Senior-Vice Rector of the United Nations University, Tokyo, Japan and a UN Assistant-Secretary-General. John Tirman is the Executive Director of the Center for International Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA.

    Contents Overview

    • Introduction

    Part I: Themes

    • Saving humanity from hell
    • Communitarian multilateralism
    • The contingent legitimacy of multilateralism
    • Power and world order
    • Multilateralism, sovereignty and normative change in world politics
    • From (alleged) unipolarity to the decline of multilateralism? A power-theoretical critique
    • The genealogy of multilateralism: reflections on an organizational form and its crisis
    • Multilateral crises in historical perspective

    Part II: Issues and Challenges

    • Something old, something new: theoretical perspectives on contemporary international peace and security
    • Weapons of mass destruction
    • International humanitarianism in the contemporary world: forms and issues
    • Progress and problems in the multilateral human rights regime
    • Environmental multilateralism under challenge?
    • AIDS, power, culture and multilateralism
    • The uninvited challenge: terrorism targets the United Nations
    • Civil wars, globalization, and the “Washington Consensus”
    • Using military force for human protection: what next?
    • Social movements and multilateralism
    • Multilateralism and economic justice
    • From unilateralism to bilateralism: challenges for the multilateral trade system
    • Multilateralism as a way of life in Europe
    • Between a rock and a hard place: Latin America and multilateralism after 9/11
    • From economic to security multilateralism: great powers and international order in the Asia Pacific

    Conclusions: multilateralism under challenge or in crisis?


    • Edward Newman
    • Ramesh Thakur
    • John Tirman
    • Shashi Tharoor
    • Emanuel Adler
    • Robert O. Keohane
    • Coral Bell
    • Amitav Acharya
    • Stefano Guzzini
    • Friedrich Kratochwil
    • K. J. Holsti
    • Trevor Findlay
    • David P. Forsythe
    • Richard Goldstone and Erin P. Kelly
    • Joyeeta Gupta
    • Gwyn Prins
    • Edward C. Luck
    • Thomas G. Weiss
    • Jackie Smith
    • Sirkku K. Hellsten
    • Beth Simmons
    • John Groom
    • Jorge Heine
    • Quansheng Zhao