The end of the Cold War in 1990s brought about the era of US-led liberal international order with its robust economic integration and globalization. However, the great power politics and geopolitical tensions have been revived and intensified three decades after the Cold War. In the environment of intensifying the great power competition between the US and China, the war in Ukraine has dramatically undermined the post-Cold War order which was already being derailed away from the globalizing and liberal political economic trends. The rise of geopolitical tension and dramatic decline of globalization have brought about various discussions on where the post-Cold War era order is heading. The US national security strategy of 2022 declared that the post-Cold War era is definitively over. Then what will be next the international order in the post-post-Cold War era?
The Center for International Strategies of NAFI (National Assembly Futures Institute of ROK) has been studying the various issues of international affairs in collaboration with global scholars. The theme of this 2022 global collaborative research is ‘The Future of the World Order in 2050: Probable vs. Preferred*.’ With intensifying great power rivalry and war in Ukraine, the gap between the probable future and the preferred future seems to be getting bigger. Therefore, this global collaborative research discussing and forecasting what is the most likely and what is the most preferable future for the coming international order is very important and a timely issue while we are facing with the numerous changes in the international power structure and global system. We invited 13 scholars from different countries and regions to share and discuss their views on the future of world and region. The 12 countries and regions selected are South Korea, US, China, Japan, India, Brazil, Germany, Indonesia, Turkey, Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa.
The main issues which the authors of this research address are the three following; the future of US and China competition, the future of power structure (bipolar vs. multipolar) and the future of their own states and regions. The final task all the authors describe is to offer suggestions for making the future international order more preferable. With these four questions, each author presents their views and strategies on probable future and preferred future. The 13 scholars from 12 countries presents their own views on the issues. This research compiles their views and presents some key takeaways from their views.
The art of prediction is usually deeply linked to accuracy, but the predictions of this research do not focus on accuracy but on understanding the diverse views on the probable and preferred future of international order they perceive. Based on the mutual and comprehensive understandings on their different views, we want to take some important suggestions for a better future and suggest some solutions to enhance global cooperation for building a better future. This study includes the diverse ambitions and preferences which global states have. We believe that the future will be shaped by a confluence of different forces. The most important point is that we need to figure out how to resolve conflict and make cooperation possible even when we have different views and ways to imagine the future of international order.
Even though this report’s title references the future of the international order, this report does not aim to predict the future accurately, but instead shares the diverse views of possible futures and preferred futures and provides some meaningful implications for the studies and policies regarding the future of the international order. The pieces which the 13 scholars from different countries around the world contributed for this research reflect their personal perspectives on the future of world order. This report can be regarded as an academic discussion of global scholars on the probable and preferred futures of the world order and the regions in order to share diverse views and navigate the major cognitive trends on that what is the most likely future and what is the most preferable future. We hope this study provides a good starting point to have open and constructive discussions on how to narrow the gap between the probable future and the preferred future for all.
* This report does not reflect the views of any governments and organizations which the authors belong to. All of content included here are personal opinions. Indeed, the 14 authors of this report do not totally agree on each state’s and region’s perspectives on the future of world order described in this report. This report’s intention is to show the diverse and different attitudes and perspectives on the changes of the current international order between the scholars from all over the world and to understand the complicated picture of future world order each scholar has and to navigate the most preferable future of international order from the diverse discussions. By sharing the diverse views on the probable and preferred future of international order and discussing the way to cooperate for building the preferable future, we hope we can make the future world head in a more preferable direction.