From the Global Liberal Order to a Multipolar World. Mapping the fate of multilateralism and the Geopolitical future of the World

Globalization has had mixed results around the globe, and within those results, a wave of backlash is determined to challenge the core ideals of the post-World War II order. In one hand, new political forces throughout the western world are rising for nationalism, while in the other hand, most of the emerging world is continuing the path of international cooperation with emphasis on promoting global trade. In the middle of this trends, Multilateralism understood as the willingness of governments to compromise in order to achieve common goals is losing its importance as the way to engage and address global issues. Continuing this path will exacerbate further delegitimation of global institutions such as the UN, EU, and WTO , taking the world into a multipolar order lead by emerging powers, increasing tensions in an already unstable world.

Throughout the western world, consequences from the Great Recession, fears related to immigration flows, and a feeling of disenchantment with the role of western governments promoting the global liberal order, has propitiated the foundation of populist movements. These movements have obtained its support from a nationalist sentiment claiming that is time to reclaim the sovereignty concede to global institutions. Therefore, we are witnessing a reborn of populist governments and anti-establishment political forces pushing for a nationalist agenda that rejects neoliberal economic policies, current immigration waves, and questions multilateralism. Such is the case for the United States, the architect of the global liberal order, withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, UNESCO, the UN global compact on migration, and The UN Human Rights Council, these decisions are all together part of this trend towards isolationism.

The idea behind promoting economic integration was center around the belief that a more connected world was the way to prevent conflict. As a matter of fact, the results of economic interdependence, through free trade agreements, open borders, and deregulation has promoted former low-income countries to become richer and to be the largest beneficiaries of economic globalization. New economic power has enabled these emerging countries to posses geopolitical influence to develop and sustain. Furthermore, under a fading multilateralism, these nations are taking the lead to take over the voids left by the west. Such is the case for China, leading economic integration throughout the emerging world with The belt and road initiative, a 1 trillion dollars multinational project that involves 65 countries with diverse types of governments and cultures.

World critical issues such as climate change, international terrorism, and migration flows need multilateralism in order to find common ground to design long-term solutions. A hostile environment towards global institutions, will not only create a vacuum in how governments engage but it would foster more tensions around the globe. Nonetheless, with emerging world players able and willing to expand its sphere of influence, and a rise on the importance to address global critical issues, we might see China and other countries supporting a new form of multilateralism in their own term promoting its own national values and interest. It is only a question of time, given and maintaining this trends, to see the consequences of this changes of dynamics and how the new global players will manage to address a multipolar world, proposing pathways not only to solve global critical issues but, given the case, to sustain a new global order

Economist writing about Latin America