Written by Cameo Cheung, Articles Manager
I have a geopolitical question: What do you think the world is going to look like at the end of your lifetime? Do you think we’ll see the consolidation of states into regions that are more like the United States or the European Union?
Presently, international organizations require the cooperation of their constituent countries, which is unlike governments that have the resources and authority to commit those resources to causes without consulting their constituents.
I ask this question because the world is changing. The last century has borne witness to a geopolitical evolution at a rate unparalleled in recorded history. Most notably perhaps, this century has seen the rise of transnational organizations that unite nation states in ways unlike the empires of the past. This includes the United Nations, the European Union, the Organization of American States, the African Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and others. Unlike imperial powers of history, these organizations are comprised of states that are nominal equals, each are members of their own volition. Treaties and negotiations are conducted to the theoretical satisfaction of both parties. Countries are intended to work together rather than against one another. At least, that is the future they supposedly support.
That being said, new states are also gaining independence from declining empires and forming out of areas historically rife with conflict (e.g. South Sudan, the world’s newest country in central Africa). This seems to indicate that the world is becoming more fractured rather than more united. Governance is becoming more local and people have more autonomy and more access to participatory opportunities than before.
Let us look at Syria as an example. For months now, the Syrian government and anti-government protesters have been at war. From early in the conflict, officials of the United Nations noted the potential for the country to descend into violent internal conflict. Yet it was not until late March, nearly than five months after this initial observation by Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, that the United Nations actually reacted to the situation in Syria. In the intervening five months, cities became war zones, people were cut off from critical supplies, and the government brutally suppressed protests. Stalled by the vetoes of Russia and China of Security Council resolutions, the UN was unable to act. The UN’s ineffectiveness in responding to international events in a timely manner does not speak well to the organizations ability to unite the nations of the world.
Time will tell.