In this article, we will explore the true nature of the international rules-based order (IRBO) and examine the forces that shape it. We will consider if the narratives we are commonly fed stack up.
It is widely accepted that the IRBO is undergoing disruptive change. That transformation is often reported as an eastward shift in the balance of power between nation states.
It is said that this new, emerging international order will be founded upon a global multipolar system of sovereign states and international law. This new system allegedly stands in opposition to the fading, western “rules-based” model.
This time, rather than relying upon western imperialism, the new international law-based system will emphasise multipolar cooperation, trade and respect for national sovereignty. It will instead be led by a Eurasian economic and technological power-block.
The apparent, ongoing antagonism of geopolitics looks likely to maintain the East-West divide we are familiar with. However, what is now being framed as the multipolar order is, in reality, the multistakeholder order.
As we shall discover, nation states are not the driving force behind the current restructuring of global governance. The geopolitical narratives we are given are frequently superficial.