It has become common to observe that the international rule-based order is in crisis, and recent developments have reinforced the view that the United Nations-based multilateral system is “under siege.” In part, this is the result of unilateral actions taken by great powers like China, Russia, and the United States, but it is also the product of a larger phenomenon of rising nationalism in domestic politics across the globe.
NEW YORK – Whenever something bad happens – Iran moving closer to acquiring nuclear weapons, North Korea firing another missile, civilian deaths reaching another grim milestone in Syria’s civil war, satellites revealing an alarming rate of polar-ice melt – some official or observer will call upon the international community to act. There is only one problem: there is no “international community.”
Part of the reason stems from the absence of any mechanism for “the world” to come together. The United Nations General Assembly comes closest, but little can be expected from an organization that equates the United States or China with, say, Fiji or Guinea-Bissau.