Change in an era of great power rivalry: the diplomatic role of the United Nations

David Malone

Event details

APCD Public Lecture

Date & time

Monday 30 July 2018


Lecture Theatre 1.02, Sir Roland Wilson Building (120), McCoy Circuit, ANU
ANU Canberra


David Malone, United Nations University


Julia Ahrens

Post-World War II international relations can be sliced and diced over time in many ways, but the simplest might be to posit a Cold War period (1945 to 1987 or so) marked by limited great power cooperation, but considerable progress on other levels, not least in normative development; a post-Cold War Period of more significant international cooperation (1988-2016); and something so new we cannot yet name it, since 2017 but marked by the following characteristics:

  • Rivalry between the three major military powers of the age (China, Russia, USA)
  • A US President apparently uncommitted to alliances or traditional friendships
  • Trade tensions
  • Tensions within the European Union
  • Rise of Asia (notably China)
  • Since 2000, the reality of greater success in economic development within the Global South, largely unaffected by the 2007-2008 economic crisis
  • Rebalancing among significant powers at a global level (e.g. India more prominent; UK less).

In the aggregate, these developments or trends challenge recent patterns of diplomacy, economic and defense cooperation and notions of stable international relationships. While we should not hasten to judgment on unknowable long-term results, widespread short-term reactions around the globe register considerable concern. Malone’s remarks will focus on challenges this more anarchic framework of international relations poses for the United Nations, not least in its key mandate to prevent war and protect peace.

Dr David Malone is Rector of the United Nations University & Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations.A graduate of Oxford University, Dr Malone has also published extensively including The Oxford Handbook of Indian Foreign Policy (co-editor; 2015, OUP) and the second edition of The Law and Practice of the UN (2016, OUP, 2nd Ed.).

Prof Geoffrey Wiseman is Professor and Director at the Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy at the Australian National University (ANU). In 2015, Stanford University Press published his edited book titled Isolate or Engage: Adversarial States, U.S. Foreign Policy, and Public Diplomacy.

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