Wordtrade LogoWordtrade.com


Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


International Relations

Between the Rule of Power and the Power of Rule: In Search of an Effective World Order by Alfred Van Staden (International Relations Studies Series: MNP [Matinus Nihoff Publishers], Brill Academic) This treatise on world order builds on the paper Power and legitimacy. The quest for order in a unipolar world, which I wrote during the final stage (2004-2005) of my directorship at the Netherlands Institute of Inter­national Relations, Clingendael in The Hague. The publication attracted a large number of responses, and these encouraged me to expand the paper into a fully fledged book. In doing so, I was able to elaborate my key arguments and include more historical references. Furthermore, I added some subthemes, such as the relationship between universalism and regionalism, the dialectics of international law and power, and the differences between state security and human security. Released from managerial responsibilities, which had been a central part of my professional duties for many years, I found in the Law School of Leiden University (Department of International Law) a conducive academic environment to finish the task.

The study of world order is at the heart of international studies. The area concerned here focuses on power, law and legitimacy. Therefore, this study is at the interface of international politics and international law, but is written from the perspective of a student of international relations. Among all international actors, the role of the United States and, to a lesser degree, the European Union in building a sustainable world order is highlighted. The book analyzes not only the institutional dimension of world order, but also the underlying substantive issues.

Ever since taking political science classes at the University of Amsterdam in the first half of the 1960s, I have noticed, with increas­ing astonishment, the rise and fall of pre-theories, theories, models and paradigms in the study of international relations. Many of them were short-lived and turned out to be fashions or, even worse, fads. Over the past decade or so we have seen the emergence of a new body of thought; it is called social constructivism, or constructivism for short. In my view, this new theoretical current represents a research program at best, calling for the study of ideational, non-material forces in world politics – such as social identity, culture, and ideas. At worst, it is yet another fad, repeating most of the epistemological arguments wielded in the acrimonious debate between "classicists" and "scientists" some forty years ago – the dispute about the possibility to observe social events objectively and the constitutive power of concepts and theories. The reader will find no references to "social constructivists" in this work.

I confess to be a moderate realist. Thus I believe that states are still the main actors on the global stage and that power and power configu­rations largely continue to affect the outcome of political processes the processes that control the distribution of interests and allocation of values for a society. To avoid false expectations and policy disasters, internationalist zeal should be combined with realist prudence. Institu­tions are important in that they can reduce and mitigate the effects of power inequalities. However, they lack the strength to eliminate these effects. At the same time, I share the belief of those who contend that democratic governments will lose the essential public support if they pursue a foreign policy devoid of ethical considerations. I also endorse the view that respect for basic international rules (including standards of human rights) is in the long-term interest of all states, large and small. The exercise of power without legitimacy, i.e., power which is based on arguments which are not seen as "righteous" and "proper", is likely to incur high political costs that may prevent even the strongest states from achieving their objectives. Finally, in my opinion, the classic realist indifference to the domestic order of states is untenable in an age when the fates of nations are increasingly intertwined.

Is, after all, the quest for a sustainable world order that provides not only stability, but also meets minimum standards of justice, like whistling in the wind – vain, wishful thinking about changing the human condition? Although there are good grounds for skepticism about grand schemes to recreate the world to eliminate the enormous social and economic inequalities, the previous chapters do not point in that direction. No matter how many conflicts are unavoidable in particular situations –ruthless dictators, aggressive groups and expansionist states do exist –the world is not inexorably doomed to live with a Hobbesian tragedy. Certainly, the foreign policy of a large majority of nations will remain focused on serving the interests of its own citizens and therefore fall short of the standard of moral perfection idealistic world reformers are looking for. Cosmopolitan morality will not be achieved merely through the exercise of reason, the creation of constitutional-democratic states or the development of international institutions. As long as most people base their political identity on their membership of national commu­nities and lend their loyalty primarily to the institutions of the state, global solidarity is likely to remain relatively weak. The very notion of global values has been challenged by those who raised the specter of a "clash of civilizations".

At the same time, increasing interdependence in so many fields means that the fortunes of nations are growing ever more closely intercon­nected. In matters of security, economics, and environment (particularly climate change), all nations are, to some extent, in the same boat. When some nations are thriving, others are likely to flourish as well. There will be growing demands for common policies at both the global and regional level, for example, to ensure energy security, to protect the environment and to control migratory flows. If the increasingly inter­dependent world is to function well, governments need to cooperate. The best way to achieve this is through multilateral institutions with clear objectives. Whether they strive for absolute or relative gains, a bone of contention in the debate between neo-realists and neo-liberals,' states have a common interest in building institutions that can settle disputes, developing norms that set standards for appropriate behavior, and upholding rules that help to coordinate individual actions. In a glo­balizing world the gap between the long-term interests of nations and the collective interests that are connected with world order, narrows.

US preeminence and beyond

However, institutions, norms and rules – the main ingredients of world order – cannot survive on their own. Any practical application of the concept of world order to real-life international relations will be affected by the prevailing power structure and, to some degree, reflect it. This means that serious attempts to transform the present international system towards effective multilateralism – the most realistic model of political order in the world today – must recognize the reality of American preeminence in global affairs. In spite of the clear limitations on its capacity to produce desired outcomes the US remains the only truly global power. The failure of the present Bush administration to democratize the Middle East with outside intervention should not be confused with structural decline of American power. The US is still second to none, and will continue to be so, at least in the foreseeable future. While the US is too weak to dominate the world, it is strong enough to take the lead. It is the only power with global reach, i.e., with strategic interests in nearly every region in the world and the capabilities to defend those interests. Regional powers in East Asia and the Middle East depend on the US to ensure their security. The US used to be the external balancer of Europe; it still plays that role in those vital regions. American foreign policy is not opposed by an adversary of equal strength at the global level, but despite the rhetoric about "the war on terror", it now lacks a single organizing principle like the doctrine of "containment" in the years after the Second World War.

The central question of this study was whether unipolarity, as epito­mized by American predominance, must be taken as an obstacle or, rather, an opportunity towards the development of world order. In the schol­arly and political debate, there is a wide gulf between those who fear abuse of power by the strongest state (or hegemon) and those who are anxious about the risk of destabilizing effects caused by powers of equal strength in multipolar configurations. Although the historical record seems to be rather ambiguous on this complex issue, there is a compel­ling argument that in a system of world order, ascendancy of power is essential to perform critical leadership tasks. If it is already difficult for the United Kingdom, France and Germany to reach a strategic con­sensus to represent the views of the EU to the outside world, what can one expect of far more diverse powers in this respect at the world level? Moreover, regardless of the merits of unipolarity and multipolarity, from the viewpoint of stability or justice, speculations on the development towards a global balance of power or concert of powers are premature as long as the US continues to be the "last resort" when it comes to the enforcement of global peace and security. It is simply impossible to deal effectively with any of the world's challenges without US engagement. Therefore this study tends to conclude that US predominance offers an opportunity, rather than posing an obstacle.

As will be further elaborated below, this opportunity can be welcomed provided that American foreign policy is guided by the spirit of self-restraint in the exercise of power and motivated by enlightened self-interest. In the eyes of many people in the world, the US has failed this crucial test over the past years. It is widely felt that the US, particularly the George W. Bush administration, has exceeded in unprecedented unilateralism while showing a blatant disrespect for international law. This criticism is justified up to a point.' However, the same sense of realism that inspires this study suggests that as a power with unsurpassed military and economic weight, the US could claim a certain leeway in how it operates internationally. It is also understandable that Wash­ington takes offence when it is lectured on human rights by Lilliputian dictatorships. Hegemonic powers in the past have sought to construct an international order that was compatible with its own international objectives and domestic structures. It is in the interest of smaller coun­tries to constrain the stronger ones in institutions and norms. They are the demandeurs. The lessons of modern history also suggest that stronger powers have a natural aversion to being restrained by lesser breeds, espe­cially if the latter take the moral high ground, aware they are not the ones being called upon to bear the brunt. The point, of course, is that the US distinguishes itself from former hegemons by the nature of its political regime. It has invited criticism by failing to live up to the ide­als it has embraced ever since the American revolution: the rights of men and the rule of law In a sense, it has become a victim of its own high-minded rhetoric. Nevertheless, the proven capacity of the US political system for political catharsis, to redeem itself from its "sins", gives cause for optimism for building a post-Bush foreign policy that is more amenable to the goal of world order. Whatever the shortcomings of America's policies in the past (and perhaps the future), it is reassur­ing that today's preeminent power is a democracy. The past has shown the ugly face of alternatives.

The need for legitimacy

The United Nations remains the world's principal forum for addressing the most difficult international security issues.' It is the main source of collective legitimacy. While the UN must be considered pivotal in the multilateral system and has a unique capacity for conferring legitimacy to state action, it is hard to imagine circumstances where the world organization would be capable to preserve international peace and security in opposition to the US. For better or worse, the UN cannot stand above the most powerful member states. This applies not just for the US but also for countries such as China and Russia. The latter countries, no less than the US, have reserved the right to keep the UN well away from issues where their vital interests are at stake. It is the member states that determine the limits of political relevance of the world organization, not supranational bureaucrats, non-governmental organizations or eminent personalities. This explains why proposals to reform the UN are either radical but not feasible or attainable but not bold and imaginative. The Iraqi crisis of the early 1990s raised expectations about a new window of opportunity to adjust the world organization to the demands of the 21st century. These expectations were only partly met. Post-Cold War euphoria which had prompted predictions of a new world order with the UN at its center descended into disillusionment and recriminations following humanitarian crises in Somalia, Rwanda and former Yugoslavia.

Once again, efforts to bring the line-up of the Security Council more in accordance with the present balance of strength in the world failed. The reshuffling of the UN organization did not amount to any great changes. Competing demands of great and small powers, nations with open and closed societies, as well as rich and poor countries, did founder calls for innovation. The sole exception was the adoption of the notion of "responsibility to protect", which can be seen as a conceptual breakthrough, as it redefined national sovereignty by constraining the jurisdiction of governments. However, time will tell whether the world organization will be able to respond more promptly and effectively to man­made humanitarian emergencies. This would probably require abolish­ing the veto for all Security Council resolutions authorizing direct action in response to such emergencies. At any rate, criteria will be needed to determine the threshold to justify international intervention.

If the problem of world order today is basically the problem of managing American power, what road should be taken? It is not this study's conclusion that simply because the UN cannot work without full American backing, the world organization can be relevant only if it is America's tool. Although no American president, however liberal, will accept the idea that the UN could constrain America's ability to protect its national security as it sees fit, the US cannot be allowed to take the law into its own hands. The fact that American global leadership is indispensable does not mean that the world will accept the US as mas­ter. The view that American leaders can be trusted to use a monopoly of power has never been shared outside the US. Sensible Americans have been mindful of this sobering fact as well. Thus, Kenneth Waltz, the leading representative of the neo-realist school of international relations, thoughtfully observes: "I believe that America is better than most nations but fear that it is not as much better as many Americans believe. In international politics, unbalanced power constitutes a danger even when it is American power that is out of balance".

To the extent that the US is still ill at ease with the entanglements and complexities of multilateral institutions, it is essential that the American administration rediscovers the potential value of these institutions as a source of international legitimacy, as well as the opportunities they may offer to share burdens with friendly states that believe in the virtues of multilateral cooperation.

A new commitment by the US to multilateralism is less fanciful than is often suggested. The combined weight of persuasion by others who share America's security concerns and the force of circumstances point­ing to the limits of American power may be stronger than the impact of anti-internationalist belief systems. Assessing American foreign policy since the reelection of president Bush, Jr., Philip Gordon notes:

Although the administration does not like to admit it, U.S. is already on a very different trajectory than it was in Bush's first term. The budgetary, political, and diplomatic realities that the first Bush team tried to ignore have begun to set in. (...) By overreaching in Iraq, alienating important allies, and allowing the war on terrorism to overshadow all other national priorities, Bush has gotten the United States bogged down in an unsuc­cessful war, overstretched the military, and broken the domestic bank. Washington now lacks the reservoir of international legitimacy, resources, and domestic support necessary to pursue other key national interests.

Regarding international legitimacy in particular, as was underlined in this study, the exercise of power that is not rooted in legitimacy involves political costs – material and non-material – that are likely to rise prohibitively high as campaigns to enforce democracy and modernization meet firm local resistance. Yes, the US still needs no permission slip to act; it has the capacity to intervene unilaterally and directly.' But it depends on the world's support for its aims to succeed. To deal with problems in a globalized world, it is not possible simply to bully recalcitrant leaders in Beijing, Moscow, Paris or Berlin into signing treaties and lining them up in military campaigns. The Iraqi imbroglio is a clear case in point. As one authoritative commentator wrote: "... the hubristic notion that [the US] had the ability and right to rearrange the world at will has met its doom in Iraq".' Indeed, in spite of the strong belief in American exceptionalism – the sense of having a special vocation and a manifest destiny to exorcise the forces of evil – the US has discovered through bitter experience that it cannot impose its vision for world order alone. The struggle of the US armed force in Iraq shows that the power to destroy is not the same as the ability to build.

The distinction between two forms of power that Keohane and Nye made in what has become one of the classics in the international rela­tions literature, Power and Interdependence, remains highly relevant. It is the distinction between "resource power" (having the capabilities that are usually associated with the strength of nations) and "behavioral power" (the ability to obtain outcomes you want). While the US has plenty of the former form of power, it has proved to be rather "short" of the latter. In other words, the US is powerful but not omnipotent. In exchange for international support (diplomatic and material) the US must accept the obligation to respect some basic rules concerning the rule of military force, such as circumscribing the right of self-defense and adhering to the principles of humanitarian law and proportionality. The distinction between short-term political gains and long-term national interests is important. If history has taught us anything, it is that the use of power within the framework of an institution or legal system is more efficient in the long run than resorting to unauthorized military force or economic sanctions. Clearly, the Iraq war has drained credibility and respect for American foreign policy. It is one thing to support the promotion of democracy, it is quite another to forcefully export it. Unless the moral authority of the US is restored, the present president Bush' successors will fail to show that, to borrow the words of the American historian John Lewis Gaddis, the world is better off with America as the dominant power than with any other power. Self-centered unilateralism must be replaced by a more enlightened approach of working through multilat­eral institutions and building alliances whenever possible. It is not likely that in the aftermath of the Iraqi fiasco, the US will bury its Wilsonian principles altogether and turn to some form of pure realism, without a hint of optimism or idealism. Robert Kaplan rightly remarks that this "would immobilize our mass immigrant democracy, which has always seen itself as an agent of change". After all, the pursuance of a foreign policy blind to any values led the US to arm the jihadists in Afghanistan during the 1980s, actually leaving the country to the Taliban and Al Qaeda, and to adopt, at least initially, an attitude of aloofness as the Balkans succumbed to ethnic slaughter in the early 1990s. Abandoning the agenda of promoting democracy because of the failure to under­stand the preconditions and the mistakes of its application would be tantamount to throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

In the more distant future, China and perhaps India may pose the most serious challenge to American preponderance. Apart from the evolution of domestic politics in the countries concerned, the willingness of the US to recognize the legitimate interests of its potential contenders will largely determine whether China, India, and for that matter Russia, will behave as a responsible "stakeholder" or an obstructive "spoiler" in the international system. In the short term, the European Union –pictured as an international order "writ-small" – is in the best posi­tion to help the US engage with international institutions, modulate its exercise of power, and moderate its worst impulses. It will only be able to do so if the EU remains faithful to the ideal of an "open" Europe, engaging with the rest of the world and defying the cheap applause of populism at home. Another condition that must be met is an increase in the strategic consensus among the major European players, i.e., Germany, Great Britain and France, which is not self-evident. With 27 member states (as of January 2007), the EU faces mounting problems in taking prompt united action, and there is likely to be an increase in coalitions of the willing – according to need or ambition. While the EU is no match for the US in terms of military capabilities, its experience of supporting nascent democracies demonstrates that the Union has something to offer America which its clearly needs: an extensive arsenal of civilian foreign policy tools. Although the Atlantic Alliance cannot be taken as a substitute for the UN when it comes to the collective legitimization of force, it is definitely one of the main pillars of the international order. Consequently, the survival of NATO should be of immediate concern to all those who care about a more peaceful world. Plainly, the Alliance has no future, if it became a vehicle for passing the buck from one group of states to another. European allies cannotbe expected to take on tasks the US wishes to pass on, nor can the US be expected to accept such moves on the European side.

NATO must be based on the principle of "all for one and one for all". It must also be grounded in the principle of the complementarity of American hard power and European soft power, giving due weight to the increased foreign policy role of the EU. For a more symbiotic relationship to develop, existing mechanisms for consultations and dia­logue need to be reviewed. The idea of organizing regular meetings for open-ended dialogue between European and North American foreign ministers is a step in the right direction. As for the role of the larger and the smaller nations in trans-Atlantic consultations, smaller allies realisti­cally have to accept their position of junior partner in areas where they cannot make a significant contribution. If it is true that there cannot be a duty to pay taxes without representation, then the opposite is also true: there cannot a right of representation without taxation.

The magnitude of the task ahead, however, can hardly be exagger­ated: restoring American interest in achieving a transatlantic consensus on the appropriate response to major security threats while at the same time granting Europeans an equal voice in the Alliance by making them "partners in leadership" with the US. The real litmus test will be American readiness to accept the idea of leadership sharing. The problem here is not only a sense of American superiority stemming from ascendancy of power, but also the American experience in dealing with the outside world. The pendulum of American foreign policy has swung from long periods of isolationism to intervals of active international intervention­ism, with the US calling the shots. There have been few years when America was cooperating with other countries on an equal footing. At the same time, European governments can only substantiate their claim to equality vis-à-vis the US, if they are prepared to take their full share of the common burdens, i.e., the burdens of containing, stabilizing and transforming countries that are not in their direct neighborhood but may nevertheless pose a danger to the security of the euro-Atlantic area (e.g., by providing a safe haven for terrorist organizations). Afghanistan and some African countries are examples which spring to mind.

The effectiveness of the UN system depends very much on combin­ing American power with international legitimacy. Legitimacy has been described as the hard currency of future international relations, "possibly the most important asset to ensure the long term-success of specific initiatives")' By definition, it requires multilateral consensus. But legitimacy is not only an issue with regard to the exercise of US power, it also applies with respect to the outdated composition of the UN Security Council. The authority of the Council could be questioned in view of the fact that the UN's power structure has been frozen since 1945. The UN's deputy secretary-general Mark Malloch Brown has called the lack of Security Council reform a "cancer" in the whole UN system." The tendency of the larger powers to discuss global matters in rather informal groups like the G-8, which has widened its agenda from economic to political issues over the past few years, is a direct threat to the political standing of the Security Council. Sugges­tions that are circulating to expand membership to include countries such as China, India, Brazil en perhaps Mexico and South Africa," will gain momentum as the Security Council in the end fails to put its own house in order.

Another crucial test will be the ability of the world organization as a whole to deal with the global threats of international terrorism and the spread of weapons of mass destruction. As regards the menace of the indiscriminate use of violence for political ends, efforts have been made to explain the current manifestations of terrorism from different analytical angles: religious, cultural, economic, social and political. Terrorism is multifaceted phenomenon and its breeding grounds are manifold. An explanation can be found for any terrorist act. But to understand is not to excuse. The need to look at the root causes of both foreign and home-grown terrorism cannot be a reason to give less weight to combating the consequences of the indiscriminate and politically inspired use of violence here and now. After all, terrorism is a threat to the most basic human right, i.e., the right to life. However, a counter­terrorism strategy using only military means is bound to fail. It is pointlessto confront terrorists with highly publicized campaigns in which counter­terrorism features as "war". Rather, it makes more sense to remind people around the world that global terrorist networks, whatever the underlying political motives, are criminal enterprises run by people who are no better than gangsters. It is essential to send clear signals to dissatisfied groups and malcontents that terrorism is no legitimate instrument to achieve political objectives.

Other considerations apply with regard to the threat of nuclear proliferation. The arguments that have been advanced in favor of the gradual spread of nuclear weapons are not convincing. In other words, proliferation is to be considered a threat to international stability, if only because deterrence is ineffective against rulers and groups who believe that they have nothing to lose. Strategic relationships will be inherently unstable in a world where new nuclear states lack an assured second-strike capability backed up by hardened missile silos or submarines at sea. Whatever the underlying motives of states to acquire nuclear weapons – deterrence, compellence (i.e., blackmail and intimidation) or prestige, a strategy of denial is essential to prevent further proliferation in the short term. But the responsibility cannot be exclusively that of the non-nuclear weapon states which may contemplate the nuclear option. There is also a responsibility for the nuclear weapon states under article VI of the NPT – the obligation of eventual nuclear disarmament. This requires them to take concrete steps to decrease their dependence on nuclear weapons.

If the UN fails the dual test as referred to above, then there is little future for the world organization as a security organization. By repeatedly adopting resolutions that are un-enforced or under-enforced it would indeed be in danger of "fading into history as an ineffective, irrelevant debating society", in the words of President George W. Bush.' A large number of proposals and suggestions have been tabled to avert such an ill-fated development. Priority should be given to strengthening the legal regimes that have been established to combat international terrorism and to counter WMD proliferation. Thus, countries that have chosen to remain outside the anti-terrorist conventions must be pressured, if neces­sary by economic sanctions, to overcome their objections and to accede to the international regime as yet. All too often political grievances against particular states, e.g. Israel, are used as a pretext to cover a lack of commitment to accept international obligations. The same conclusion applies with regard to those countries that are not in full compliance with the directives of the Counter-Terrorism Committee, established by the Security Council.

The putative nuclear ambitions of North Korea and Iran have put the survival of the NPT in jeopardy. The development of nuclear weapons with adequate delivery systems by the two countries could prompt other countries in East Asia and the Middle East respectively to follow suit, on the basis of fear or the belief that nuclear weaponry is the best protection against externally imposed regime change. That is why most governments agree that Pyongyang and Tehran must certainly be stopped. Attempts to strengthen the non-proliferation regime should focus on rapidly concluding a fissile material cut-off treaty and convert­ing nuclear reactors to low-enriched uranium use, thereby reducing the risk of the development of all the necessary components for nuclear weapons under the guise of peaceful application. To this end, article IV of the NPT must be revised to allow non-nuclear states nuclear energy but not a nuclear capability. Ideally, a global system of nuclear enrichment must be worked out to take place in designated centers under international control. The option of the breakout capacity must be made unattractive to aspiring nuclear states by confronting them with the prospect of becoming subject to prompt verification, if necessary mandated by the Security Council, in response to these states' notifica­tion of withdrawal from the NPT. Moreover, the Additional Protocol ought to be established as the general norm for verifying compliance with the Treaty. Any illicit trading in nuclear material and technology should be prosecuted and punished. In addition, to increase both the credibility and the effectiveness of the non-proliferation regime a legally binding universal ban on nuclear testing must be introduced with the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Last but not least, the Secu­rity Council must be prepared to act in cases of serious concern over non-compliance, whether or not these cases have been referred to it by the board of the IAEA.

In addition, the ground rules concerning the use of military force should be adapted to the radically changed circumstances. In a world where terrorist attacks cannot by prevented by classic methods (i.e. containment and deterrence), and pressing the button could result in nuclear annihilation without warning, the right of carrying out preemptive strikes in self-defense cannot be disputed. It is unreasonable and unrealistic to expect a state faced with such a threat to wait for the threat to materialize. However, for any appeal to the right of self-defense to be legal and legitimate, the threat concerned must be imminent, in other words, there has to be a clear and present danger. It is up to the state that justifies unilateral military action by referring to the right of anticipatory self-defense, to convince the Security Council of the high-level of urgency of the threat. It should also be understood that, in contrast with preemptive strikes, preventive strikes would require the prior authorization by the Security Council. Those strikes are in response to threats that could materialize in the future, but lack the urgency to justify unilateral action.

The linkage between security and development

Another important conclusion is that security must be placed in a broader context than just responding to physical threats. A world order which aims only to maintain stability and the preservation of the status quo will not last. Security is much more than the mere absence of inter or intrastate conflict. The notion of human security encompasses the idea that physical security is interrelated with socio-economic development and human rights, as well as the preservation of the natural environ­ment. Reducing poverty and protecting human rights do not guarantee a safe world, but they do lower the risk of instability and violence. Achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 is therefore in the interests of both developed and developing countries. These goals represent a bold endeavor to break through the vicious circle of poverty, starvation, gender inequality, mother and child mortality and pandemic disease. The injustice of the present world trade system is one of the obstacles to achieving the MDGs. For one thing, high income countries should provide greater market access to the products of the poor coun­tries. For another, the former countries must be prepared to help the least developed countries raise export competitiveness through invest­ments in critical trade-related sectors. At any rate, it is essential to focus on capacity-building in low-income countries and emphasize the long-term commitments of donors.

As far as global and regional approaches are concerned, political leaders should realize that the potential economic gains from global trade agreements would exceed the effects of regional deals that include only a few countries. While such deals can help expand trade, in the absence of global agreements, they are likely to create conflicting and overlapping rules and increase tensions between the participating and non-participating countries, i.e., between the "ins" and "outs". The poorest countries in areas like sub-Saharan Africa, which can be expected to benefit most from multilateral talks in the WTO framework, will probably lose out because they have the least to offer.

Furthermore, the effectiveness of the UN organization could be strengthened if the fragmentation in the entire family of its institutions were redressed. There is a striking lack of connection between different branches of international governance, resulting in policy incoherence, institutional competition and the duplication of programs. In particular, there is a wide gap between decision-making on traditional peace and security concerns in the Security Council and on financial and eco­nomic affairs in the boards of the World Bank and IMF. This problem is even worse because with their outdated Bretton Woods labels the last two organizations have failed to accommodate the up and com­ing powers of the new economies, i.e., China, India, and Brazil. The fragmentation of the global governance system ignores the interrelation­ship of the problems involved, as is recognized by the notion of com­prehensive security. Any solution which fails to extend the mandate of the Security Council beyond its traditional domain is likely to fail. Priority should also be given to fostering a culture of anticipating crises rather than that of reacting to them. Members of the Security Council should feel a sense of urgency to take action before conflicts escalate and get out of control.

The newly established Peacebuilding Commission, a body charged with managing the transition from keeping a peace to building a stable society, could play a useful role in this area. It is important to consolidate a hard won peace, but it is even more important to prevent violence breaking out again. Many conflicts flare up again because the peace has proved to be too fragile and unsustainable; therefore the two tasks are interrelated. Thus, in addition to helping bolster the econo­mies and political institutions of countries emerging from conflict, the Commission could be charged with periodic reporting to the Council and the Secretary-General about potential hostilities in the world. The release of such reports should be followed by high-level debates on the practical implications of threat assessments, with the aim of raising the general awareness of the need for conflict prevention. In addition to strengthening mechanisms for conflict prevention, there is a clear need to establish the capacity to allow for a more decisive response to humani­tarian crises and natural disasters.

Finally, in view of the weak UN capabilities for planning and com­manding large-scale peace operations, the world organization is on the right track to concentrate on empowering regional organizations, especially in Africa (such as the African Union and ECOWAS), if pos­sible with EU assistance. Admittedly, regionalization could undermine the moral authority of the UN, since this authority is based on the ethics of universalism and the principle of the indivisibility of peace. However, the public standing of the world organization will certainly be damaged if it cannot live up to the expectations created upon its foundation or deliver on the promises made later because of a lack of effectiveness. This applies especially to the pledge made in September 2005 "to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleans­ing and crimes against humanity", the principle of the responsibility to protect. When there is a genuine humanitarian emergency, such as that unfolding in Darfur, and domestic rulers are unwilling to alleviate the plight of their people, military force should not be used only as a last resort. The difficulty of gaining international consent for the use of force summarizes the dilemma of world order: whereas its goals should be based on voluntary cooperation and moral persuasion in order to secure legitimacy, it actually needs a lot of coercive power to succeed.