The new multipolar world
New actors emerge after the Cold War, but challenges persist
“If it used to be easier to define States, who had a voice, who had power and who didn’t, that’s no longer the case today. There is a multiplicity of actors, flows, people and, to some extent, this multiplicity either relativizes power or decentralizes power.”
The statement above was made by Lucia Nader, executive director of Conectas, during a talk at the 13th International Human Rights Colloquium. The event, held in September 2013 by the organization, was attended by activists from more than 40 countries who were in Brazil to discuss the existence of a “new global order in human rights”.
In theory, the participants themselves came from countries that ought to be occupying a new and much more important, visible and effective position in the field of international relations, particularly on matters of human rights. But the doubts surrounding the actual existence of this new context of multipolarity were enormous. To this day, the emergence and submergence of these actors casts doubts over how much the world has actually changed since the end of the Cold War.
In her talk, Nader questioned “multipolarity” in all its senses – from the prominence of States and companies to the actions of human rights NGOs from the Global South and its citizens. “Today, 25% of global GDP and 45% of the world’s population is in the so-called BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa),” said Nader, questioning what is and what will be the role of these new actors in relations between the world’s States.
Multipolarity is one of the key aspects of the debate on foreign policy and human rights that is addressed in the 19th issue of SUR Journal, edited and published by Conectas for 10 years, in three languages, and distributed in more than 100 countries.