During the past three decades world politics has witnessed unprecedented changes. The Cold War ended with little violence, and prior to that the Berlin Wall fell and East and West Germany united. After two decades of near-unipolarity and American dominance, the structure of the international system is currently witnessing challenges by a resurgent Russia and a rising China, while other emerging powers such as India and Brazil have started exerting their influence, especially through international institutions. The onset of intensified globalization has once again brought massive changes to wealth creation, global information, communication and transportation technologies, and the dissemination of ideas and norms, both good and bad. Some observers have started questioning how far the nation-state itself is transforming and whether or not it is able to cope with the challenging times.
The strategies and campaigns waged by violent non-state actors since the 9/11 attacks have brought attention to the changing nature of warfare, especially in the poorly governed spaces of the world. The sudden collapse of many authoritarian regimes in the Middle East and North Africa, and the failure to bring proper democratic rules are generating intense violence in many states. The intersection of domestic and international level factors is all the more evident in the ongoing conflicts. Liberal societies, especially in Europe, are facing major challenges in terms of meaningful integration of minorities from growing levels of licit and illicit migration.
Much of international relations theory is poorly equipped to understand change. Standard realist theories have little to say about peaceful change, although liberalism proposes several strategies for change and constructivism has focused on ideational change. Yet, we still lack a proper understanding of when and how change happens and how states and international institutions can adapt to transforming world politics peacefully.
The 2017 conference is aimed at taking an assessment of our understanding of change, its different manifestations as well as implications.
Columbia University Press will also feature Budrich books–visit their booth!