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International Law

Evolution of the Balance of Power principle in light of emerging power equations in the world

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An introduction to international order

While each state exercises its own and respects the other’s right to sovereignty, they are not inherently equal. Some states wield greater power and influence, while other states merely react and try to develop their economic and political might. But it is sufficient to say that international affairs are predominantly a struggle for power amongst states.[1] The purpose of this essay is to evaluate contemporary international order and assess how emerging power equations alter the ‘balance of power’. Before doing so we must first define ‘balance of power’ and determine the current international order.

Balance of Power

Following WW2 international order was majorly divided into two camps based on ideological differences- the North Atlantic Treaty (NATO) led by the United States (US), and the Warsaw pact led by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). This is in line with the Realist’s theory on ‘balance of power’, where States continuously seek to increase their own capabilities while undermining the capabilities of others.[2]  This perpetuates a system of international anarchy, where no singular state can become the global ruler. [3] Realism was designed to explain the endless repetition of behavior and was therefore unable to predict the collapse of the USSR. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 signaled the triumph of Western liberal democracy over Eastern socialism- with Fukuyama believing that humanity had reached the culmination of its ideological evolution.[4] As the sole surviving superpower, the US established a new world order- one who’s residuals we still experience to this day.

Power-transition theory

In 1958 Organski (1958) introduced the concept of ‘Power transition’, in which the international status quo is determined by a dominant country.  International order is established- through the setting up of rules that guide economic trade, diplomatic and political communications, and military interactions.[5] According to this theory international order is established by a powerful nation which imposes trade relations onto lesser states. This is done to extrapolate benefits in the forms of economic power, security, and prestige. Over time these relations are stabilized not only between lesser states and the dominant nation but also amongst one another- with habits and patterns for trade, diplomacy and war becoming established. Power in this system is measured by internal growth, with the relative power of states changing over time. Thus, if a country achieves a ‘power parity’ with the dominant state, it can challenge the dominant state for control over the ‘status quo’ of the international system.

Since the dissolution of the USSR, the US has become the dominant country that Organski once wrote about and by having the largest economy and the world’s strongest military the US has had the most influential voice in the international arena. This period under US hegemony has seen the avoidance of any major global conflict and can be viewed as an extension of the ‘long peace’ that was experienced during the Cold War.[6] The next section will analyze emerging threats to current world order.

Emerging threats to this ‘long peace’

In 2014, Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine citing the highly controversial ‘Crimean status referendum’ and the disputed doctrine of protection of nationals abroad as reasons for interference and moving their troops into Crimea.[7] Yet in reality, the reason for the annexation is the strategic importance of Sevastopol as a warmwater base which allows for Russia to project its naval power across the Black Sea.[8]

Russia was once at the helm of the USSR and therefore wishes to regain its status as a superpower. However, it’s actions in Crimea have soured relations, to the worst extent possible, with the West who have resultingly imposed several economic sanctions upon them.[9] Unfortunately, this has had the dual effect of pushing Russia closer onto China, as Russia finds its access to Western markets denied- which has resulted in the increasing trend of arms sales from Russia to China.[10] This relationship between the two giants is troubling for the US and for most of the Western World.

Similarly, Iran is another county which has experienced a very tense and complicated relationship with the US. This began in 1953 when the CIA launched ‘Operation Ajax’ in collaboration with the British to oust democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh and planted the Shah of Iran as a puppet ruler that they could control.[11] This kept Iran in the US’s back pocket for 25 years until the 1979 revolution toppled the Shah.[12] This brought to the forefront an anti-American theocracy that has been at grips with the US ever since. In 2002, it was internationally revealed that Iran had been developing their nuclear capabilities in a clandestine nuclear facility which resulted in the imposition of deep-economic sanctions under the Bush-administration[13]. It was only in 2015 after an extensive diplomatic outreach- facilitated by the EU, that an Iran nuclear deal was established.[14]

President Trump, however, withdrew from the US-Iran nuclear deal in May 2018 and imposed economic sanctions on Iran and on the 28th of December Trump ordered the use of a drone strike to take out General Soleimani, who was the chief-military strategist and the right-hand man of Ali Khamenei.[15] This led to the tensest period in US-Iran relations and the whole world held their breath as they waited to see if this would escalate to an all-out war between the two nations. Fortunately, it did not escalate to anything beyond retaliatory ballistic missile attacks with no reported casualties[16]. Regardless, the situation remains jittery but with the election of President Biden it is hopeful that US-Iran relations will transfigure into one that is more pacific.

The problem of China

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) opted for an isolationist policy- first growing inwards under the leadership of Mao Zedong- before slowly opening its economy to foreign investment in ‘Special Economic Zones’ during the late 1970s.[17] Since then, and within 35 years, China grew into the world’s largest manufacturing powerhouse, producing nearly 50% of the world’s major industrial goods,[18] while simultaneously and steadily growing into the world’s second largest economy behind the US.[19]

Out of all the countries mentioned so far, China is the closest to reaching a power parity with the US, slowly amassing the wealth and influence necessary for doing so. China has slowly begun to challenge the general prerogative that the US experiences within the current international system, this becoming increasingly evident through initiatives such as the establishment of the ‘Asian Development Bank’ to counter the influence of the World Bank,[20] the establishment of the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ to expand their political and economic influence,[21] and by providing cheap infrastructure as a means of extending influence to developing African nations.[22] Similarly, it’s recent aggressive expansionist policies in the Indo-Pacific and the establishment of military bases in the ‘String of Pearls’ project are all symptoms of China’s burgeoning audaciousness.[23] What’s left to assess is what this change in power equations means for the international system?

Change in power equations

Since all states function on the Westphalian model of sovereignty, the pursuit of power is the common denominator to which all foreign policy can be reduced. The battle for global dominance and influence may be fought between the incumbent and the challenger but every other nation will act and align in a manner that preserves their national interest. To talk about each nation’s foreign policy would too cumbersome a task, therefore, in a bid to maintain focus this paper will focus on two emerging power camps- ‘The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue’ and the ‘Group of Friends in Defense of the Charter of the United Nations’.

The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad)

The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue was an informal dialogue first proposed by PM Shinzo Abe of Japan in 2007, who was troubled by China’s increasing assertiveness.[24] The other participants were Australia, India and the US and these strategic dialogues were accompanied by naval exercises that were dubbed as ‘Exercise MALABAR’.[25] However, its effectiveness was blunted when Australia withdrew from the Quad, under PM Kevin Rudd.[26]

Each of the nations has a point of contention with the Peoples’ Republic of China. For the US, China represents a new threat in a world where it has largely reigned supreme. Meanwhile, Japan and China share an enmity that is drenched in a shared history of repeated conflict- the Sino-Japanese wars, the issue of the Nanking massacre, and disputes over the East China sea.[27] Australia, on the other hand, saw its relationship with China deteriorate after growing increasingly vocal about Human Rights Violations committed against the Uyghurs in Xinjiang, which further exacerbated when Australia supported an international inquiry into China’s handling of the coronavirus.[28] This resulted in a trade war with tariffs being imposed and certain commodities being banned by China, which was particularly detrimental to Australia since China is Australia’s largest trading partner, and purchases a third of all its exports.[29]

Finally, despite the Indo-Sino wars of the 1960s and a brief standoff during 1987 the relations between India and China witnessed a period of cool down, until the Galwang Valley incident of 2020. This incident transformed into a skirmish between Indian and Chinese troops and led to casualties on both sides.[30] This led to a heightening of tensions and an exacerbation of relations between both nations. These events coupled with an increase in aggression in the Indo-Pacific led to the resurgence of Quad, which was initiated by India inviting Australia to join the trilateral naval military exercises conducted in the Malabar alongside itself, Japan and the US.[31] This joint-naval exercises translated into a virtual Quad Summit amongst the leaders of the four democracies and culminated in a number of resolutions such as the Quad Vaccine Partnership, the Quad Climate Working Group, and the Quad Critical and Emerging Technology Working Group.[32] While not explicitly mentioning China as the reason for the group’s revival, the Quad has as its objective a “free and open Indo-Pacific”- the exact antithesis of what Beijing desires.[33]

It is important to note, however, that the Quad is not an Asian-NATO- as India heavily opposes such an assertion- with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar asserting that India has never had a “NATO mentality” and formalizing such an alliance would mean relinquishing a certain degree of national-autonomy.[34] While the Quad still lacks a formal military agreement, the common will to cooperate threatens China, as the Quad could evolve into a stronger and more formal alliance if China continues its regional assertiveness. This is a clear threat, and in a bid to rebalance the scales of power China has been looking to forge closer ties with nations not on good terms with the Western Bloc.[35]

Group of Friends in Defense of the Charter of the United Nations

Citing the preservation of the UN Charter as their official motive, China, Iran, North Korea, Russia, and other nations have petitioned for the formulation of a new coalition titled as the ‘Group of Friends in Defense of the Charter of the United Nations (GOF, for short).[36] The official reason may be to defend the UN Charter by opposing the use or threat of force and unilateral sanctions but the question to be asked is why propose this now?

The use of force has been illegal for almost a century now, yet states contravene this principle whenever they see fit (US in Afghanistan), which shows that this isn’t some newly occurring phenomenon. Secondly, China, if anything else, has been using the threat of force as of late- tightening its grip on Hong Kong, engaging in an armed confrontation over borders in India, and additionally has been escalating tension with a host of its neighbors such as Australia, Japan, Philippines, and Vietnam.[37] China and Russia are therefore in direct contradiction to the position they stand. Furthermore, the member states that seek to defend the UN Charter, ironically, are the same ones who violate human rights and fundamental freedoms within their own countries, thereby already breaching the UN Charter. It can therefore be inferred that the true motives for the formation of this coalition are not to protect the UN Charter but to counter the growing influence of newly emerging alliances such as the Quad and pre-existing ones like the NATO.


What we are witnessing is a reversion to an era of power blocs, nascent as may be, led by the predominant powers- the US and the PRC who compete for global influence. These power blocs are not yet formalized in nature so it may be a bit presumptuous to assert that this is a new Cold War. Still, we are certainly steering away from an era dominated solely by US foreign policy and into an age of multilateralism as more and more countries act out of self-national interest. There are lots of interesting developments presently occurring that require further elaborating- such as the Build Back Better World (B3W) initiative,[38] the question of whether negotiations with Iran can result in a new nuclear deal,[39] and whether the influence of the European Union will diminish in the light of Brexit.[40] Hopefully these can be brushed upon in future papers. However, it is evidently clear that the US and the PRC are presently the two most influential countries and that the policies they extend will shape International Relations in the years to come!

[1] Walt, International relations, 31

[2] Niou, Peter & Gregory, Balance of Power,75

[3] Antunes & Camisao, Introducing Realism in International Relations, 03

[4] Fukuyama, End of History, 03

[5] Organski, World Politics, 315

[6] Gaddis, The Long Peace, 100

[7] Yuhas and Jalabi, Ukraine Crisis, 01

[8] Marshall, Prisoners of Geography, 45

[9] Stent, Why are US-Russia relations so challenging, 04

[10] Detsch and Mackinnon, China and Russia deeper ties, 03

[11]  Kinzer, All the Shah’s men, 169

[12]  Kinzer, 197

[13] Maloney, U.S. Policy towards Iran, 26

[14] Landler, Trump abandons Iran nuclear deal, 02

[15] Singh, Implications of Soleimani’s Killing, 12

[16] Safi, Oliver, & Ahad, Iran launches missiles, 01

[17] Crane et al. China’s special economic zones ,99

[18] Wen, China’s Rapid Rise, 09

[19] Brown, Rise of Xi Jinping, 206

[20] Perlez, China creates a World Bank of its own, 01

[21] Chatzky and McBride, China’s Massive Belt and Road Initiative, 02

[22] Shepard, What China is up to in Africa, 04

[23] Pehrson, String of Pearls, 09

[24] Roy-Chaudhary and de Estrada, India, the Indo-Pacific, and the Quad, 181

[25] Ali, New Strategic Partnership against China, 02

[26] Baghi, Australia to Pull out of ‘Quad’, 01

[27] Kokubun et al, Japan-China Relations in The Modern Era, 19

[28] Hurst, Australia insists WHO Inquiry into COVID, 03

[29] Butler and Nicholas, Trade War Fallout, 03

[30] Liu and Yuandan, China reveals truth about Galwan Valley Clash, 01

[31] Miglani and Needham, Australia joins Naval Drills, 04

[32] Taken from the White House Briefing Room.

[33] Lendon, Analysis: Quad Alliance, 01

[34] Basu, Quad is not ‘Asian NATO’, 02

[35] Western Bloc here refers both to NATO and the newly emerging Quad.

[36] Nichols, China, Iran, North Korea seek support, 01. The other founding members of this group include Algeria, Angola, Belarus, Bolivia, Cambodia, Cuba, Eritrea, Laos, Nicaragua, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Syria and Venezuela.  

[37] Jha, China has adopted a more aggressive approach, 02

[38] An initiative sponsored by the G7 who seek to counter excessive Chinese influence in developing nations.

[39] Tirone, Iran casts doubt on reviving nuclear deal before elections, 01

[40] Holden and Rose, EU and UKs sausage war, 02

Douglas Daniel D’sa is a Research Associate at the National Resource Center on Human Trafficking at the Rashtriya Raksha University, Lavad, Gujarat, prior to this he was also engaged as a research intern with Chennai Centre for China Studies (C3S). He pursued his post-graduation in MSc. International Crimes, Conflict and Criminology from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. His interests lay in the fields of International Relations, Foreign Policy, Transnational Organized Crime, and revolutionary movements and insurgencies.

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International Law

Democracy at Risk: The Global Challenge of Rising Populism and Nationalism

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Authors: Meherab Hossain and Md. Obaidullah*

Populism and nationalism represent two discrete political ideologies; however, they may pose potential threats to democracy. Populism is a political ideology and approach characterized by the emphasis on the interests and concerns of ordinary people against established elites or perceived sources of power and privilege. Populist leaders often portray themselves as champions of the “common people” and claim to represent their grievances and desires. It is a political stance that emphasizes the idea of “the people” and often contrasts this group against “the elite”.

 Nationalism, on the other hand, is an ideology based on the premise that the individual’s loyalty and devotion to the nation-state surpass other individual or group interests. It represents a political principal positing that there should be congruence between the political entity and the nation-state. While populism emphasizes the idea of “the people,” nationalism emphasizes the idea of the nation-state.

In what ways can populism pose a threat to democracy?

While some argue that populism is not a threat to democracy per se, others contend that it poses a serious risk to democratic institutions. Populism can become a threat to democracy by undermining formal institutions and functions, discrediting the media, and targeting specific social groups, such as immigrants or minorities. This threat arises from its potential to confer a moral legitimacy upon the state that it might otherwise lack. Consequently, it can jeopardize the defense mechanisms established to safeguard against tyranny, including freedoms, checks and balances, the rule of law, tolerance, autonomous social institutions, individual and group rights, as well as pluralism.  Populism imposes an assumption of uniformity onto the diverse fabric of reality, distorting not only factual representations but also elevating the attributes of certain social groups above those of others.

In Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s populist rhetoric and policies have led to the erosion of democratic institutions, including the judiciary and the media. Populism in Turkey can be traced back to the era of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s regime, during which Atatürk’s elites, who had limited commonality with the broader society, assumed the responsibility of educating and guiding the masses. This phenomenon, often referred to as ‘regime elitism,’ has rendered Turkey susceptible to populism, which fundamentally revolves around the conflict between the elites and the general populace.

 In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s populist government has been accused of undermining the rule of law, limiting press freedom, and targeting civil society groups. He has established a repressive and progressively authoritarian state that operates under the guise of democracy.

In media discourse, he has been designated as a populist leader. Empirical analysis reveals that Hungary is currently governed by a form of political populism, characterized as conservative right-wing populism. The salient features of Hungarian political dynamics encompass the government’s claim of challenging established elites, a lack of a clearly defined political agenda, the utilization of propaganda as a prominent tool in its political communications, advocacy for the preservation of a Christian Hungary, intervention in areas traditionally considered independent from state interference such as education and jurisdiction, the implementation of mass clientelism to reward its supporters while exerting pressure on critics, and overt criticism of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Consequently, this trajectory underscores the ascendance of authoritarianism within Hungary.

How Nationalism can be threat to Democracy?

Nationalism can pose a potential threat to both democracy and international relations when it manifests in forms of discrimination, violence, and the exclusion of specific groups. The ascension of nationalism may jeopardize the established efficacy of multilateralism, which has historically been instrumental in preserving lives and averting conflicts. This can result in unilateral actions by certain nations, thereby undermining the collaborative approach to the peaceful resolution of disputes.

Nationalism can serve as a catalyst for conflict and division, fostering tendencies toward exclusivity and competition that impede the resolution of common global challenges. The ascent of economic nationalism has the potential to undermine global collaboration and policy alignment, resulting in a resurgence of nationalist economic strategies in many regions worldwide. Such strategies often prioritize individual national objectives over the collective global interest. Unrestrained nationalism can pose a threat to stability by inflaming ethnic tensions, thereby increasing the likelihood of violence and conflict.

In Europe, nationalism has historically been a significant catalyst for conflict and division, spanning from the emergence of Nazi Germany in the 1930s to more recent upsurges of nationalist movements in various countries. Nationalism tends to foster exclusivity and competition, thereby complicating efforts to address common global challenges. Under nationalist ideology, exemplified by Hitler, instances of extreme cruelty and inhumanity have been documented.

Another instance of nationalism, which presents a significant challenge to democracy, is the ascendance of Hindu extremism and nationalism in India, resulting in communal tensions. Since the Hindu nationalist BJP came into power, there has been a heightened sense of insecurity among Muslims in India, with the situation reaching unprecedented levels of concern. The government has actively employed media, television, and the film industry to propagate Islamophobia among the Hindu majority. In 2018, the Indian High Court rendered a judgment advocating for India to be declared a Hindu state, citing the country’s historical religious divisions. Nonetheless, it is crucial to emphasize that, in accordance with its constitution, India is mandated to maintain a secular state. Needless to say, the rise of Hindu nationalism under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been accused of fueling sectarian tensions and undermining the country’s secular democracy.

Indeed, while populism and nationalism are distinct concepts, their simultaneous global rise poses a considerable threat to democracy. These ideologies frequently favor specific groups over the broader population and can corrode democratic principles. They tend to exacerbate polarization and undermine vital democratic institutions. Hence, many countries are grappling with substantial challenges to their democratic systems, which puts their stability and effectiveness at risk.

*Md. Obaidullah holds both a BSS and an MSS degree in Public Administration from the University of Barishal. He is currently employed as a Research Assistant at the Centre for Advanced Social Research in Dhaka, Bangladesh. His writing expertise spans various subjects, including Public Policy, Politics, Governance, Climate Change, and Diplomacy, on which he frequently contributes

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International Law

Principles of International Relations as Homo Sapiens

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After listening to Hariri’s Home Sapiens, I grasped, with a new perspective, the state of our humanity. I deeply realized that indeed we are the last human species. Our closest relative and competitor, the Neanderthals, were long gone. So how do we, as homo sapiens (“wise men”), wisely ensure the well-being and future of our species?  The question seems too general or even irrelevant to many considering that everyday life on Earth continues despite the horrors of war, the devastation of calamities, and the forebodings of apocalypticism. But let’s not toy around with the destructive propensity and capability of our species which could have played a significant role in the demise of the Neanderthals and could also threaten our very own existence.

Life on Earth now is multifaceted and more complex than when we were still cohabiting our planet with other human species. The ancient “us and them” have become the modern and ironically complicated “among us,” and consequentially “us versus us.” We have become the only remaining human species—but the only remaining species that wants to destroy itself for self-interest.     

Reflecting on the implications of our being the only human species left on Earth, I deduce the following principles for our international relations.

As one human species living on one planet:

The principle of cohabitation

We all have the rights to peacefully and productively cohabit on planet Earth without the sequestration of others due to superficialdiversity such as geographical locations, skin color, social ideology, and culture; or because of national or corporate resource exploitation.

The principle of mutual survival

We cannot survive without the human ecosystem. Human life is a multidimensional ecosystem. It cannot survive and thrive with only one feature or characteristic in one locality. It necessitates global diversity and mutuality. For our species to survive, our relations need to be based on mutual universal survival.

The principle of co-thriving

We cannot thrive secluded from the universal life system. Regression and destruction of one geographical locus, one ethnicity, or one natural feature impacts the whole bio-societal system. Inversely, the flourishing of one locus, one ethnicity, or one natural feature in conjunction with others, furnishes the whole human system to thrive.

The principle of developmental competition

We have both the latent propensity for destructive bouts and a penchant for developmental competition. International relations based on destructive bouts eventually inflect global crises. Global relations based on developmental competition advance our civilization. Each progress in a varied sphere, though will not be the same, complements the whole progression.  

The principle of common home protection

We only have one home, one present habitat for our species to live and thrive, and one human family. Allowing these to decay will not only result in our degeneration but also the eventual risk of our survival.

As homo sapiens, we are at the top of the food chain and intolerant. We want to devour everything we can see and irrationally have the delusion of grandeur of being the only predator left. But the prey and the predator are one and the same. It’s not so naïve to outline what can be tagged as an idealistic theoretical construct. But let’s also accept the fact that the most influencing factors in our international relations are either commercially exploitive or ideologically invasive. And these are not sustainable and globally beneficial—for they are calculated goodness intended for the temporal benefits of the very few. The principle of the common good will enable us to see more beyond our present state and ensure the well-being and future of our species. 

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International Law

UN 2.0: Reimagining our global organization for a world in flux

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Working towards better results on the ground and focused on the future, the UN family is undergoing a reset that will give rise to more agile, tech-savvy and impactful UN organizations.This transformation in skills and culture, encapsulated in the Secretary-General’s vision of a UN 2.0, is focused on fostering cutting-edge capabilities in data, digital, innovation, foresight and behavioural science – to deliver stronger results, better Member State support, and faster progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

During a roundtable with Member States, a group of UN leaders and experts explained the potential and strategies of UN 2.0. They highlighted early success stories, that, when replicated, will boost on-the-ground impact of a stronger, more flexible and modern UN. 

This event came before the launch of the Secretary-General’s policy brief on the issue of a UN 2.0 revamp.

At the core of UN 2.0 is the so-named ‘Quintet of Change’, a powerful combination of data, innovation, digital solutions, foresight, and behavioural science solutions.

Opening the discussion, Melissa Fleming, the Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications, emphasized the need for change, highlighting that the progress towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – adopted by all UN Member States in 2015 as a blueprint for peace and prosperity – is currently not on track

Responding to the growing demand for reform, UN 2.0 represents a shift in how UN system organizations operate, aiming to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Guy Ryder, the Under-Secretary-General for Policy, who brings extensive experience from his decade-long tenure leading the International Labour Organization (ILO), explained that the purpose of UN 2.0 is to equip UN organizations with the contemporary expertise required to be an effective partner for Member States in the twenty-first century.

A transformed UN leaves no one behind

Catherine Pollard, the Under-Secretary-General for Management Strategy, Policy, and Compliance, explained that the primary beneficiaries of UN 2.0 are the people the UN serves in its 193 member countries. “But equally important, UN 2.0 is about UN organizations themselves, because they will develop new skills, new talent, new purpose to better deliver our mandate.”

The UN continues to be a relevant player in the multilateral arena. To maintain this relevance, Ms. Pollard said, the Organization will develop employees’ skills, offer more training, attract new talents, and improve human resources policies.

Like many things in the modern world, UN 2.0 will be driven by digital solutions and cutting-edge technologies. Robert Opp, Chief Digital Officer of UNDP, the UN agency promoting international development, advocated for the potential that new technologies offer and contemplated on what the future can bring. 

“AI is the current challenge, but there will be quantum computing and other breakthroughs around the corner, what we haven’t even anticipated,” he said, adding that when the ‘Quintet of Change’ is successfully implemented across the UN system, the Organization’s agility in responding to new challenges and in helping Member States will increase dramatically. 

Data, digital innovation, foresight and behavioural science play key roles  

The UN is actively supporting Member States in their pursuit of new solutions. A network of innovation labs has been established in more than 90 countries, serving as platforms for sharing new expertise in technology, data and other areas.

One notable success story comes from Indonesia, explained Faizal Thamrin, Data Scientist at UN Global Pulse Asia-Pacific. He illustrated how his team collaborated with the Government and thousands of small and medium enterprises to prepare for the future. Additionally, the team’s data analytics skills, combined with Indonesia’s experience, helped replicate early warning systems for natural disasters across the region.

UN 2.0 extends beyond data and digital solutions. Behavioural science, a multidisciplinary field that integrates insights from psychology, economics, communications, data science, sociology, and more, plays a crucial role in the ‘Quintet of Change’. 

Claire Hobden, an ILO expert on domestic work, provided an example from Argentina’s informal sector. With support from UN colleagues, the Government was able to significantly expand social security coverage to domestic workers, such as nannies and caregivers, who are often hard to reach. 

“Through a very small intervention we  hope to be able to give more people access to social security, realizing their rights and access to decent work,” said Ms. Hobden noting the huge potential of replicating these methods, as there are 75 million such workers around the globe.

‘With new tools, we can do better’ 

In conversation with senior diplomats, Mr. Ryder emphasized that UN 2.0 is about potential of doing our job better “if we take a fresh look at some of the things we’ve been doing for a long time.”

Commenting on the journey ahead for UN colleagues, Mr. Ryder said “What you’ve done has been great. Now we have new tools. Let’s pick up those new tools, use them and maybe we can improve on what we’ve done before. It’s not saying what happened in the past was bad. It’s saying what we do in the future can be better”.

The event was co-organized by the Permanent Missions of Norway and the Republic of Indonesia to the United Nations in partnership with the Executive Office of the Secretary-General.

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