The new ‘world disorder’

Looking at the news headlines one thing becomes apparently clear: there is no stability and the rules and logic of ongoing systems are no longer clear

Maria Dubovikova

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Looking at the news headlines one thing becomes apparently clear: there is no stability and the rules and logic of ongoing systems are no longer clear. The international players are breaking once established rules and in the process sowing disorder.

After the devastating World War I, the League of Nations was established with the main purpose of maintaining peace to prevent a repeat of the human tragedy. The League proved absolutely incapable of carrying out the burden of its mission. It was due to numerous problems and factors including the lack of regulatory mechanisms, the “games” of the Great Powers and the pursuit of their own interests that undermined the legitimacy of League of Nations’ decisions and of the whole organization.

World War II shacked once more the foundations of humankind. The United Nations was founded on the ruins of the post-World War world, on the remains of the League of Nations. The new system of international laws and regulations was invented, with the U.N. Charter as the fundamental code of principles and rules for regulating the world.

There is no use in delving into the depths of history. There were different pages in that period of time, even when the world was on the brink of a nuclear catastrophe. However, the United Nations was a strong regulatory instrument: its authority and power were apparent during the Cold War.

But since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the downfall of the bipolar system of checks and balances, the situation has changed. The foundations of the United Nations have cracked under the blows of different international players who found it possible to act with no respect for the rules or the existing system, seeking solely to fulfill their interests.

The state of the present system

The power of the United Nations is fading. This becomes remarkably apparent when analyzing the ongoing international campaign in Iraq and Syria. The U.N. Security Council does not sanction the military strikes of the international coalition on ISIS positions in Syria and Iraq. They are not regulated by any international treaty. There is no document that defines the limits of the operation or the penalty for exceeding its mandate. Therefore, the international coalition has unrestricted freedom of action. Does it contribute to the international “order”? – No, definitely not.

The U.N. Security Council is transforming into a relatively influential state-level club for discussion, with influence that has been passed down more than anything. It has transformed into a place where the countries freely announce their positions, blame each other for a subsequent crisis and then aggravate the situation outside the hall of the U.N. Security Council. The states find it possible to pose sanctions on other international players, countries, or even smaller players such as foreign banks, in contravention of the United Nations, its institutions and regulations, following only one purpose: to punish those who contradict them, who break their own rules.

Realpolitik, the notorious “power politics,” conditioned by exclusively national interests and ambitions, is back despite all claims and assurances of good intentions. The old contradictory postulates of the international law and the lack of clear treatments of several key system elements are becoming more and more dangerous, producing deep fissures in the international system, as the parties twist the laws for their own sake.

Realpolitik, the notorious “power politics,” conditioned by exclusively national interests and ambitions, is back despite all claims and assurances of good intentions.

Maria Dubovikova

The Crimean crisis and earlier the Kosovo crisis have made it clear enough to become nervous about the future of the international system as there are many cleavage lines on the world’s geopolitical map which could start to collide unpredictably and without any restriction, lacking reliable and confidential institutions and laws.

The rise of tensions between two truly great powers that worsen with the increasingly sharp and tough, often irrelevant, speeches and declarations from both sides utterly shatters the hope for stability in the near and midterm period. There is no communication between the players, no dialogue – just monologues fading in the vacuum of mistrust. In the world of the 21st century it is barbaric to talk to each other from the position of force – to oppress. Equal dialogue is the only way to regulate conflicts and disputes and the players should adopt this style of interaction. Unfortunately, they are unlikely to do so at the present time.

What can the described situation lead to?

This new world disorder, when the temptation to launch a pre-emptive strike to crush an annoying counterpart is on the rise as hotheads seem to be playing leading roles practically everywhere now; when the stakes are rising; when the declarations are louder and sharper; when the smaller actors of the international community try to use the paralysis of the global regulatory system in their favor; when numerous conventional and unconventional threats appear to be increasing because of lack of unity, communication, cooperation and mutual understanding, what can it lead to?

There are two possibilities: The first one is that in the critical moment all the parties will take a pause, stop talking and listen to the silence. This hypothetical moment means that for once all parties will stop wrangling. Too much is said now by politicians and the media, allowing for unrestricted and total information warfare. It’s high time for some silence. We should push the “pause” button and then the “reload” button, otherwise the “reload” will once more transform into “overload” and the war, the “third” one, which is the second scenario, will become the most plausible reality we will face.

Does humanity only need tragedies to sober up?


Maria Dubovikova is a co-founder of IMESClub (International Middle Eastern Studies Club), IMESClub Executive Director and member of the Club Council, author of several scientific articles and participant of several high level international conferences. She is a permanent member of the Think-tank under the American University in Moscow. Alumni of MGIMO (Moscow State Institute of International Relations (University) of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia) (honors diploma), she had been working for three months as a trainee at the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI) in Paris. Now she is a PhD Candidate at MGIMO (Department of International Relations and Foreign Policy of Russia). Her research field is Russian foreign policy, especially in the Middle East, the policy of France and the US towards the Mediterranean, theory of international relations, humanitarian interventions and etc. Fluently speaks and writes in French and English. She can be followed on Twitter: @politblogme

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