My predictions on Multilateralism in 2069

Introduction
In today’s world, International Organizations (IO) are facing great challenges in exercising their authority due to the threat they represent to states’ sovereignty. States always feel undermined when IOs meddle in their internal affairs and often compete with them to exercise greater influence in their decision-makings. As a result, there are still no strong multilateral institutions to deter them from abusing their power. Dictators can freely act on a whim to repress or kill their dissidents without facing prosecution. For instance, François Duvalier along with many other world’s dictators never faced international prosecution for the tragedies they caused in their countries. These are the result of a world with weak IOs.

The lack of strong multilateral institutions also allows states to freely attack and invade others as they want. For instance, the US invaded Iraq in 2003 even though the UN opposed its decision; Muammar Qaddafi, the former Libyan autocrat, was never legally punished despite his implication in multiple terrorist attacks. These happened because there is not enough cooperation among countries to empower international institutions and to punish abusing states or head of states.

In this anarchy, the world’s peace is preserved only due to “Hegemonic Stability”. According to this theory, the world is in peace if there is an hegemon to rule it. Indeed, since after the Cold War, the US has emerged as the World’s hegemon after defeating the Soviet Union. Due to its superior military power, the US deters other states from disrupting the international system and sometimes from repressing their own people. For instance, after Qaddafi’s bombing of The La Belle Disco in Germany, the US retaliated by bombing two cities in Libya (Sara Obeidat). The US also meddles in many countries’ affair for the sake of preserving peace. For instance, Jean Bertrand Aristide, the president of Haiti, was forced by the US to resign in 2004 after months of political violence. These actions have deterred many presidents from abusing.

             However, 50 years from now, the situation will be different. Cooperation between countries will be the most effective solution to maintain peace in the world for two reasons: Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) will be more available, and there will no hegemon. Despite many efforts to reduce proliferation of WMDs, advancement in technology will make them more accessible in the future. On top of that, countries will be more capable economically to acquire these weapons. According to some predictions, there will be more sophisticated nuclear weapons and less barriers to their acquisition by 2030 (John P. Caves: 4). The US will thus be less dominant because multiple other countries will be militarily as powerful. China, which have the largest population, is already expected to reach American military’s level by 2050 (Alex Ward). India also is modernizing and investing more in its army (The Economic Time). Therefore, by 2069, the gap between military Powers will be reduced, and the world will be multipolar with multiple countries in different regions having similar military strength. There will thus be no “Hegemonic Stability”, and the only way to maintain peace will be to increase cooperation. This can be called an “International Contract” whereby states wittingly reduce their sovereignty to obtain protection from empowered multilateral institutions.

Economic growth and reduction of inequality may also increase cooperation among countries. States typically prefer win-win cooperation, which can be more easily fulfilled by cooperating with economically stable countries. According to the theory of “Catch-Up Effect” or “Economic Convergence”, poorer economies grow faster than the wealthiest. As can be seen in the graph below: many underdeveloped countries including Guinea, Ethiopia, Ghana, and Nepal, are among the top 20 countries with greater GDP growth, which is consistent to the “Catch Up” theory. If this trend persists until 2069, poorer countries will catch up, and inequality among people will be reduced. Thus, countries will be less hesitant to engage in economic integration with one another.

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The UN in 2069
In the context where states compromise their sovereignty for security, the UN may become more powerful. Currently, the UN is composed of five main organs: the General Assembly, the Security Council, the International Court of Justice, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), and the Secretariat. By 2069, the structures of these organs may change to accommodate with the new nature of multilateralism aforementioned. To start with, the General Assembly, which is composed of all UN member states will not have substantial changes. No new emerged countries will feel discriminated against with the General Assembly’s structure where each member state has an equal right. So will be the case of the UN Secretariat and the ECOSOC which does not have direct impact on the UN’s policies. However, the Security Council and the International Court of Justice will have substantial changes.

The Security Council’s mission is to maintain peace and security in the World by voting binding resolutions, by using force, and by imposing sanctions on abusing states. It is composed of 15 members and 5 of them are permanent. Its structure is a subject of controversy due the permanent veto power it gives to only 5 members: the United States, France, China, Russia, and the United Kingdom. Yet, Japan, Brazil, Germany, and India have already started their advocacy to become permanent members of the Security Council (Jean-d’Amour K.: 1). In fact, the 5 actual members which have veto power are not the 5 most powerful countries. As new countries are emerging, the controversy surrounding the veto power will become more intense. Perhaps, more countries will obtain permanent veto power, but this will make it more difficult to reach consensus. As a result, the UN will not be able to intervene where it is necessary to resolve some world’s security problems. This happened with the League of Nations who became ineffective partly because it gave veto right to all of its members. In sum, the veto power will become inefficient, and the majority rule in decision-makings will be more relevant in the UN Security Council and may probably replace it.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ), which has the mission to resolve disputes among States, will gain tremendous power by 2069. Currently the ICJ is facing numerous issues:  Member States, due to their untouchable sovereignties, have the right to reject the ICJ’s jurisdiction (S. Gozie Ogbodo: 15); the Security Council’s permanent members also have veto power over the ICJ’s decisions. This was observed in 1986 when the US vetoed the ICJ’s judgement after Nicaragua sued it for launching attacks on its territory. These have showed the ineffectiveness of the ICJ, which has left many people skeptical about its future.

However, as mentioned above, by 2069 more countries will compromise their sovereignty in exchange for security, and the veto power will be obsolete. These will enable the ICJ to gain strength. First, by reducing their sovereignty, States will more likely accept the ICJ’s jurisdiction to protect themselves. In fact, if the ICJ remains weak, there will be no punishment for violating states, and the World’s security will not be preserved. Second, if Veto power is abolished, the Court will be able to enforce its recommendations without facing opposition from the Security Council.

With a powerful ICJ, the UN immunity, which protects it from being held accountable, will be challenged. Currently, the UN is denying its responsibility in many abuses of its Peacekeeping missions. In Haiti for instance, the United Nation’s Mission for Haiti’s Stabilization (Minustah), which had been established after Aristide’s ouster in 2004, brought the virus of cholera in Haiti in 2010 via the Nepalian peacekeepers which were contaminated (Mara Pillinger: 1). The year of 2010 had already been the most tragic one in Haiti’s entire history because of the earthquake’s devastations, and Minustah exacerbated it by sparking a terrible cholera outbreak. More than 8,000 Haitians lost their lives and roughly 1 million were contaminated (Mara Pillinger: 1), but the UN has never acknowledged its responsibility and has never provided compensations.

If denying responsibilities is possible now, it will not be the case in 2069. As states will rely their security more on the UN, the necessity of accountability will increase. Activists have already started to pressure the UN on that account.  The UN typically replies by denying its responsibility, which is in fact a good sign. According to the Spiral Model (Risse, T.: 8), the stage of Denial regarding a Human Right reflects that states at least acknowledge the validity of the claims. Similarly, if the UN denies its implications, it also acknowledges the wrong-doings. Professor Alex Whiting at Harvard also mentioned that by saying that the UN’s immunity does not make it ignore the problems it is causing (Anna Schecter). So with more pressure, the UN may shift from denial to making concessions and becoming more accountable.

 

Conclusion
By 2069, the nature of multilateralism will change tremendously. Due to general economic progress and proliferation of WMDs, no country will detain hegemonic power. China is expected to be as powerful as the US militarily, and other countries are making progress in their military too. The World will more likely become multipolar with many multiple Powers in different regions.  So, the World’s peace will not be assured by hegemonic stability but by increasing cooperation among countries. With this new nature of multilateralism, the UN will have substantial changes. The veto power in the Security Council may become ineffective. Many new emerged countries may obtain permanent veto power, which will render the UN less responsive to the World’s problems. However, the ICJ may gain strength. As countries will rely more on the UN for security, they will more likely accept its jurisdiction.  The UN may also become more accountable. With more powerful International Organizations, people will pressure them more to acknowledge their wrong-doings.

References

Mara Pillinger, Ian Hurd, and Michael N. Barnett, How to Get Away with Cholera : The UN,

Haiti, and International Law. March 2016. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/55bc2903e4b0b7e056744a52/t/56f156d245bf211d102f4785/1458656978460/haiti+final+pdf.pdf

Alex Ward. China’s military power could match America’s by 2050.  Vox. November 14, 2018. https://www.vox.com/world/2018/11/14/18091800/china-military-power-congress-commission-report-2050

The Economic Time. Significant steps towards modernization of armed forces, but challenges remain. January 05, 2019. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/significant-steps-towards-modernization-of-armed-forces-but-challenges-remain/articleshow/67405882.cms

John P. Caves, Jr., and W. Seth Carus, The Future of Weapons of Mass Destruction: Their Nature and Role in 2030. https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a617232.pdf

Sara Obeidat. Muammar Qaddafi and Libya’s Legacy of Terrorism. PBS. October 13th, 2015.https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/muammar-qaddafi-and-libyas-legacy-of-terrorism/

Jean-d’Amour K. Twibanire, The United Nations Security Council: Imbalance of Power and the Need for Reform, International Journal of Political Science & Diplomacy, 2016. https://www.graphyonline.com/archives/archivedownload.php?pid=IJPSD-106

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, League of Nations, International Organization, Mar 7, 2019 .https://www.britannica.com/topic/League-of-Nations

Gozie Ogbodo, An Overview of the Challenges Facing the International Court of Justice in the 21st Century. Volume 18. 2012. https://digitalcommons.law.ggu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1159&context=annlsurvey

Anna Schecter, Why can’t anyone sue the United Nations? NBC News. September 26, 2013.https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/why-cant-anyone-sue-united-nations-flna8C11266822

Risse, T., Ropp, S., & Sikkink, K. (Eds.). (2013). The Persistent Power of Human Rights: From Commitment to Compliance (Cambridge Studies in International Relations). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Juan Pedro Schmid. Development Challenges: Is the Caribbean losing out? Inter -American Development Bank, 2018. https://blogs.iadb.org/caribbean-dev-trends/en/blog-on-development-challenges-the-caribbean-is-losing-out/

Alex Harris. Hurricanes of the future may look a lot like Harvey — stronger, slower, much wetter. Miami Herald, May 24, 2018. https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/environment/article211738679.html

BBC. Caricom heads discuss CSME. July 04, 2005.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/caribbean/news/story/2005/07/050704_singlemarketjagdeo.shtml

 

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Author: marclaguerreblog

PhD Student in Civil Engineering at Rice University

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