Anarchy, Hierarchy, Polyarchy, Monarchy or else? What sort of global rule for a time of power change?

Ringvorlesung "Beyond Anarchy: Rule and Authority in the International System"

Prof. Harald Müller, Exzellenzlcuster "Die Herausbildung normativer Ordnungen", Hessische Stiftung Friedens- und Konfliktforschung

29. Januar 2014, 18.15 Uhr
Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
Campus Westend, Hörsaalzentrum HZ 9



The world, it is said, is undergoing seminal structural change. Unipolarity is giving way to multipolarity, Asia is rising, China is overtaking the USA as number one, the BRIC group is overtaking the West as the hegemonic group, and all this means a fundamental shift in the distribution of global power and, consequently, in the system of rule in the world. All this has to be taken with a grain of salt, of cause. A quick look at the two periods of apparently unchallenged US dominance, from 1945 to about 1966 (when the Soviet Union reached nuclearparity), and from 1990 to about 2005 (when the Bush adventures weakened the US at home and abroad), shows an astonishing discrepancy between the highly asymmetrical distribution of power resources and the degree to which the hegemon was able to impose its will on the world. This poses the fundamental question about the relationship of material power and its translation into substantial influence. The sobering answer to this question should calm down the nerves of those who panic about future Chinese dominance. There is, however, a residual reason for disquiet: When the difference between the ambition of the most powerful state and its real world achievement feeds frustration as for Napoleon, Wilhelm II, Adolf Hitler or Tojo, the consequences for the world can be rather horrible. It is advisable to remember this lesson in the 100 year anniversary of the beginning of World War I.

Harald Müller is Executive Director of Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF) and Professor of International Relations at Goethe University Frankfurt. He also teaches regularly at Johns Hopkins University Center for International Relations, Bologna, Italy as a visiting professor. His research focuses on arms control, disarmament, non-proliferation, and security policy. His most recent book is Norm Dynamics in Multilateral Arms Control. Interests, Conflicts, and Justice (ed. with Carmen Wunderlich). Prof. Müller has served on German delegations to NPT Conferences since 1995. From 1999 to 2005 he was member of the Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters of the UN Secretary General, chairing the Board in 2005. 2004/5 he was also appointed member of the Expert Group on Multilateral Fuel Arrangements of the International Atomic Energy Agency. From 1999 on, he has been co-chairing the Working Group on Peace and Conflict at the German Foreign Office’s Planning Staff; since 2010, he is Vice-President of the EU Consortium for Non-proliferation and Disarmament.

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