For more than a decade, the Government of Slovenia, in thinking strategically ahead, has been hosting an annual gathering called the Bled Strategic Forum. An opportunity for participants from diverse background to engage in conversations on compelling regional and global challenges.
This year, the 14th edition, the general focus (RE) SOURCES OF (IN) STABILITY examined how resources, their availability and regional distribution are shaping strategic relations in the international system.
Organized in Panel sessions, our CEO, at Yintab Strategy Consults, Dr Babafemi Badejo was amongst 7 other experts who intervened on the subject of “Rules-Based International Order or the Return of Geopolitics?”
Session moderated by: Mr Tobias Flessenkemper, Head of Office in Belgrade, Council of Europe
Background to the Session
We live at a time less violent and more affluent than ever before. In many respects, this is due to the multilateral system that we have gradually developed over the past 70 years. Although not flawless, the rules-based international order with the United Nations at its core has brought prosperity, the recognition of human rights and dignity, and relative stability.
At the same time, our world is more unpredictable and uncertain than ever before, with new challenges multiplying and old ones never seeming to go away. Their complexity means that they can only rarely be resolved by one or a few parties alone. Moreover, an old-world view seems to be gaining ground again, a view in which the law of the strongest prevails over the strength of the law. A sharp turn from multilateralism towards assertive unilateralism and the shifting balance of power, also spurred by profound economic and technological changes, opens the door to new or re-emerging actors that attempt to reshape the system. Having invested heavily in consolidating a rules-based international order, the EU has become increasingly polarised and recently also preoccupied with its resurgent populist movements.
In an increasingly multipolar and unpredictable world, the case for preserving multilateralism is clear. However, the future of multilateralism can be secured only by realising that certain things will need to be adapted, changed and reformed in order to be sustainable. How do we go about adapting the current multilateral system to its challenges? What is the future of international institutions in a changed geopolitical context and in a world where policy is not just communicated through, but also formed in, the social media?
Dr Babafemi Badejo, CEO, Yintab Strategy Consults, Nigeria
Dr Badejo opened his intervention by recognizing Slovenia’s commitment to leading critical international conversations. Slovenia also via the International Trust Fund (ITF) has extended her soft power diplomacy in thinking ahead, as well as supporting states in the ECOWAS region.
Tracing the evolution of the rules-based international system back to the Treaty of Westphalia, the Bretton woods agreement and formation of the UN system after the world war II, he submitted that the rules-based order, and the geopolitics have always existed. For him, rules-based plays out where there are shared values. It is also wrong to assume the values of the EU represents the values of the rest of the world. We cannot also deny the existence of geopolitics, with the use of raw powers by stronger nations.
“When we talk about a rules-based system, whose rules are we talking about? When setting up the current system, large part of Africa was not part of the process” There is need for the international system to allow for flexibility in the process of updating the rules, how and who makes these rules, in such a way that perceived sidelined interest are carried along.
In our current world, the US and China are clear contending powers as we also have a clear military power in Russia and a united EU would constitute another pole of power as countries like India, Iran and Turkey are pulling their respective weights. He also noted with regret that the same actors who built the rules-based system post world war two, are also today disrespecting the rules-based system. Typical examples being the violations of United Nation’s resolutions and agreements.
Africa, and the rest of the world, who are not in the class of the strongest should also be given more room for not only being onlookers, but also being involved in drawing the rules that affects them.
Highlights from the contributions of other speakers are captured below:
H.E. Dr Seyyed Abbas Araghchi, Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs of Iran
“Europe should pay attention to the middle East. The next wave of major migrations may be ahead of us if the JCPOA fails”
Focused on the withdrawal and violation the JCPOA Agreement by the US, as a major evidence of US disregard for the rules-based order. Given that the JCPOA, was the only major recent achievement of Iran, fully recognized by the United Nations)
Mr Jean-Christophe Belliard, Deputy Secretary General for Political Affairs – Political Director, European External Action Service
“Which multilateralism are we speaking about today? We see the Chinese way: they trying to build a planet B with their principles. The US, with whom we share a lot seem to be going their own way”
H.E. Mr Jae-bok Chang, Ambassador for Public Diplomacy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Korea
“Why did North Korea accept the invitation to negotiate? It was the result of the accumulated pressure of international sanctions”
Ms Theresa Fallon, Director, Centre for Russia, Europe, Asia Studies (CREAS), Belgium
“What is international order? It is a crystal ball with a crack. They might be small but are very difficult to repair”
Dr Walter Kemp, Head, Strategic Policy and Planning Unit, OSCE
“This order was created after a war to prevent future wars. It should not take another war 70 years later to remember why we need that order”
Ambassador Iztok Mirošič, Ambassador-at-Large / Special Envoy of the Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Slovenia
“EU’s soft power will not be enough in the future. It will be required to also develop some sort of hard power capabilities”
Mr Richard Moore, Political Director, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, United Kingdom
“We have to maintain a liberal international order. We got to stick up for Free trade and Human rights which are universal. But we will have to compete for them. Because if we are complacent, others who do not share our democratic values will displace us”
A livestream video of the session is available via this link. https://www.facebook.com/BledStrategicForum/videos/493220574795979/