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date: 21 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter argues that the traditional conception of multilateralism that underpinned the United Nations at its birth is under serious challenge, which comes from a global shift in power and ideas. The hitherto Western dominance of both is rapidly eroding. But the emerging world order is better termed as a ‘multiplex’ rather than a ‘multipolar’ world. The key drivers of change include the growth of regionalism, the proliferation of non-state actors, the decline of the West, the erosion of US primacy, the rise of non-Western powers, and the increasing fragmentation of traditional UN-based global governance mechanisms. In this world, the UN is not obsolete but has to come to terms with rapid and far-reaching changes that call for a new approach to universalism, one that accommodates the conflicting pressures of cultural and political diversity, on the one hand, and economic and functional interdependence, on the other.

Keywords: multilateralism, multiplex world, global governance, world order, regionalism, emerging powers, G-plus world, non-state actors, ASEAN

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