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The World Is Changing, But Not Its Institutions

Author: Charles A. Kupchan, Whitney Shepardson Senior Fellow
October 8, 2006
Il Sole 24 Ore

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The international institutions that have guided world politics for over half a century are rapidly heading toward obsolescence and irrelevance. Many of these global and regional institutions were shaped soon after the end of World War II. Six decades have since passed, leaving these institutions woefully outmoded and struggling to remain legitimate and effective in a global landscape that bears little resemblance to that of 1945.

Although the task lacks the urgency of stabilizing Iraq and Afghanistan or resolving the Palestine-Israel conflict, the international community must make institutional reform a top priority. We are living in a moment every bit as momentous as 1815, 1918, or 1945, when a new geopolitical reality necessitated a new international architecture. Just as during these previous historical intersections, the institutional choices made today will shape the international system for decades to come.

As for the United Nations, the United States, Britain, France, the Soviet Union, and China may have merited a veto-wielding seat on the Security Council in 1945. But changes in the global balance of power make it difficult to contend that these countries deserve such a privileged position today.

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