The Return of Diplomacy?
From 'Global Disorder' to Multipolarity
Valdai Club Conference Hall, Tsvetnoy boulevard 16/1, Moscow, Russia
List of speakers

On February 28, 2024, the Valdai Club presented a new report titled “Charting the 2040: Younger Generation Insight on the World in the Making”, timed to coincide with the Club’s Youth Conference on the sidelines of the World Youth Festival in Sochi. The moderator of the discussion was Andrey Sushentsov, programme director of the Valdai Club. 

He noted that the report is an intellectual product authored by experts from the younger generation hailing from Russia as well as many countries of the West and East, who have joined forces to outline the possible development of key international trends through 2040, the not-too-distant distant future. How will we respond to existing challenges?

Nikita Neklyudov,  Lecturer at the Department of Applied Analysis of International Problems at MGIMO University, spoke about the creation of the report and listed its main provisions. The report is based on a series of brainstorming sessions which focused on a number of key trends. These include issues such as future transformations of state sovereignty, the global economy and the architecture of globalisation, as well as prospects for technological development and the future of economic blocs and international institutions. “The universalisation that we saw in the nineties will not happen anymore. The world will be divided between different blocs. But this does not make it less urgent to solve global problems that are equally important for everyone. The climate is changing all over the world, the whole world is facing the challenge of new pandemics, and other major challenges may also emerge, including global food security and global migration. Here, perhaps, common international institutions, primarily the UN, can become a platform,” Neklyudov concluded.

Adlan Margoev, Lecturer at the Department of Oriental Studies at MGIMO University, outlined the authors’ views on the development of the international order. After World War II, the parade of sovereignties began. The new states sought to play an active role, including through international cooperation. This was combined with the search for some kind of universal model for the whole world. As a result, a bipolar system emerged, complemented by the Non-Aligned Movement. With the collapse of the socialist bloc, a vacuum was created, which was quickly filled by the liberal capitalist system. Against this background, some states willingly delegated their sovereignty, and as a result, the “global empire scenario” (unipolar moment) was realised. However, a series of crises pushed the most active states to seek support within themselves, which gave rise to a “scenario of global disorder.” It also cannot survive for long, as it is associated with increased violence and a lack of norms. The logical way out of this situation is to strengthen the role of those states that are ready to convert national resources into influence in the international arena. As a result, a group of such states will be able to form a multipolar world with new rules, norms and values.

Sophia Datta, a Master’s Student at Johns Hopkins University and at Tsinghua University, noted that in a multipolar world, the United States, Russia and China will determine the international order together with such emerging players as India, Brazil and Iran, but this does not negate the need for dialogue between all countries. Common challenges, particularly pandemics and climate change, have demonstrated that despite ideological differences, states must cooperate for the benefit of all humanity and engage in a multilateral dialogue. “The UN is the cornerstone of international cooperation, but its effectiveness depends on the wishes of key powers,” Datta emphasised. “We indicate in our report that the UN maintains its role as the main platform for ensuring international security and human rights.” She added that the current situation highlights the importance of controlling weapons of mass destruction and adopting shared guidelines in pursuing technological development. Additional challenges may arise from artificial intelligence and other advances in the digital age that require international control.

“To describe the world in a certain period of time, you need to find out what its structure is—how many poles and what is the balance between them,” said Tian Kang, a PhD Student at Tsinghua University’s Faculty of International Relations, discussing methodological issues. He urged attendants not to follow wishful thinking and not to assume that multipolarity will necessarily make the world a more pleasant place to live. “Multipolarity is not a guarantee of prosperity. It is often accompanied by instability, competition and rivalry,” he is convinced. “Ultimately, the fragmented world comes to a situation where one or two major sources of power gain dominance. Chinese history knows examples of this.” According to Kang, changing the structure of the world and the balance between the poles is always associated with an increase in violence, and this should not be forgotten. That is why it is in the interests of leading countries to find an opportunity to agree on common rules of the game and achieve stability.

The presentation of the new report was concluded by Timofey Bordachevhead of the “Valdai – New Generation” project. This is a new project of the Club for those who are interested in conducting research together, participating in Valdai Club conferences, working in regional programmes, that is, becoming participants in a broad international creative process. “We are expanding the Valdai Club to include young representatives of the expert community in order to work together to understand the future,” Bordachev noted. A competition for participation in this project will be announced during the Valdai Club events at the World Youth Festival in Sochi.  

More information about the Valdai’s New Generation project can be found here