Renewing the international order requires collective reforms to restore confidence in the system of global governance

Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the world has been rocked by the September 11 attacks in the United States in 2001, the financial crisis of 2008, the Arab Spring in 2011 and the epidemic of the novel coronavirus in 2020. These seismic events have also been accompanied by the rise of populism, growing tensions between the United States and China, and the decline of multilateralism. As a result, the global community is more fragile and more divided than ever, apparently lacking the political spirit and tools to find the necessary answers to common challenges.

And beyond these problems, we are threatened by a crisis in our traditional model of global governance. The international system is powerless to resolve conflicts in the Middle East, Africa or the Caucasus.

More than that, our societies are destabilized by a number of broken promises following the hopes raised after 1945. It is a reality concerning the peace and stability eroded by the frozen conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Libya, the Sahel and Nagorno-Karabakh.

On the other hand, economic and financial promises are not kept, even if progress was made after the crisis of 2008. In the case of Europe, we are confronted with a lack of productivity, growing inequalities and a rupture between growing liquidity and the real economy.

Even more worrying is the lack of effective tools to deal with the situation. The world community is too often paralyzed because of the ineffectiveness of the UN, which is often blocked at the level of the Security Council, as well as the lack of legitimacy and effectiveness of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the the World Trade Organization.

At the same time, the governance crisis is aggravated by the new ideological competition between West and East.

Such a situation gives way to the tyranny of fear, rumors and uncontrolled passions, opening the door to uncontrolled and hazardous adventures.

The resulting risks should not be underestimated.

The first is confrontation, with the threats of extremism and terrorism, as well as identity hysteria and the spiraling spiral of isolationism and protectionism.

The second is the risk of fragmentation of globalization which risks making us fall into the trap of Thucydides, which will probably lead to war.

But the main risk will be the blow to our civilization by the double challenge of a selfish globalization with the scenario of technology confiscated for the benefit of a limited group of people and countries to ensure domination, as well as a warming. uncontrolled climate threatening life. itself on our planet.

In this context, we must pay close attention to the United States-Europe-China strategic triangle, three strong development poles, three experienced poles that have a special responsibility for maintaining peace and stability in our world.

Faced with the risk of confrontation between the United States and China, over political, economic and technological issues, we must bear in mind how important it is to keep an open world. This is why it is so important to keep the dialogue going. At the same time, it is also necessary to discuss common rules that will allow us to resolve disputes and find ways to work effectively together.

Europe as an intermediary can play a useful role in reducing opposition and antagonism between the United States and China. For example, it is important to continue to push for the implementation of an investment agreement between Europe and China. It could well pave the way for a better understanding not only between Beijing and Brussels but also between Beijing and Washington. China and Europe can also cooperate on key issues for emerging and underdeveloped countries such as debt reduction and access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

Today, renewing the international order requires collective reforms and cross-border initiatives. The priority is to restore confidence in world governance: Let us never forget that world governance is motivated by the search for peace.

It is urgent to put in place a “diplomacy of the commons” based on the general interest and a few key principles, the equality of all peoples, the sovereignty of each State and the dignity of all civilization.

The first “common” is of course peace. This implies a profound reform of the UN Security Council concerning both the composition of the council and the use of the veto to override in the event of a humanitarian crisis. Reform of the system of peacekeeping operations is also necessary to make it more effective.

The second “common” should be the defense of the environment with the creation of a global carbon market and a common tool to fight against deforestation.

The third “common” is culture, which is the best way to bring countries, societies and civilizations together. Knowing and understanding others better will help us find better and more just solutions to our world consciousness for the international community. A strong dialogue of cultures would help us to reduce differences on human rights and many political questions.

Such “commons diplomacy” should be accompanied by a renewal of multilateralism, for example to address nuclear proliferation, arms control, biodiversity and the sharing of key technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence, health data and the internet of things.

It is only through concrete partnerships that we can share and disseminate common rules and values. This is what I call project diplomacy, bringing together politics, business and culture as part of a comprehensive strategy aimed at win-win goals. Such an approach involves the mobilization of various stakeholders, such as governments, businesses, non-economic organizations and political power. In many areas, project diplomacy could help develop economic and cultural bridges.

We live in a time of pain, fear and hardship. It is only by being united that we can meet and overcome the unprecedented challenges we face. Now is the time for a vision and coordinated initiatives.

The author is the former French Prime Minister and distinguished professor at the China Europe International Business School. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily. Opinions do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.