Last week, the Tufts Institute for Global Leadership (IGL) hosted its Norris and Margery Bendetson Education for Public Inquiry and International Citizenship (EPIIC) International Symposium, titled “Is the Liberal World Order Ending?” The symposium is organized by students in the EPIIC class under the guidance of Director of the IGL Abi Williams, a professor of the practice at international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. The symposium began Thursday evening, March 1, and ran until Saturday, March 3, covering many topics in international relations, including technology, globalization, mass humanitarian crises and populism.
The event kicked off with a panel on Thursday evening focusing on transnational challenges. Panelists were Samantha Gross, the former director of Office of International Climate and Clean Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy; W. Andy Knight, a professor of international relations at the University of Alberta; and Jonathan Prentice, chief of office for the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for International Migration at the United Nations.
Technology and Globalization
Two panels held on Friday in Lane Hall addressed the implications of the end of the liberal world order and how technology has impacted and will continue to impact the world today.
The first panel, titled “The Changing Social Contract? Globalization and Technology in the 21st Century,” was moderated by Kai Abe McGuire, a senior in the EPIIC class. The panel included Michael Handel, an associate professor of sociology at Northeastern University; Thomas Kochan, the George Maverick Bunker professor of management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Management; Nawaf Obaid, a visiting fellow for intelligence and defense projects at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School; and Jeff Vogel, managing partner at Bulger Partners.
The panel began at 12:30 p.m. Williams gave opening remarks, saying that the discussion about the possibility of the end of the liberal order has “profound implications for the international system.”
“It is my hope that this symposium will be a catalyst for new ideas,” Williams said.
Each speaker delivered 10-minute opening remarks and then were given an opportunity to ask each other questions. The audience was then allowed to ask the speakers questions.
The panelists discussed the effects of technology on the economy in the United States and throughout the world. Handel explained that the late 1980s ushered in an age of neoliberalism.
“This is a picture of laissez-faire, free markets and non-intervention,” Handel explained.
Kochan further discussed the relationship between wages and productivity in the labor market. According to Kochan, productivity has steadily increased since the end of the Second World War, but wages have flatlined.
“This is why we have so much anger and division in our society today. This is our generation’s responsibility to change,” Kochan said.
Obaid and Vogel spoke on the international effects of technology and globalization.
Audience members asked about the panelists’ opinions on minimum wage, social inequality and the future of humanities and social science in a world that is increasingly technological.
“There will always be a necessity for the social sciences,” Handel asserted.
“It’s the combination of the technical skills and the social skills that are the key to success in the labor market,” Kochan added. Kochan also discussed the possible negative implications of technology in the workplace, mentioning the way Uber and other companies treat their workers.
“We can use technologies for ill or for good,” he said.
Finally, Kochan discussed the importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace.
“Emotional work is part of what we do in today’s world,” he said.
The second panel began around 3 p.m. and was moderated by Jessica Newman, a sophomore. The panel, titled “The Future of R2P? Mass Atrocities and the Liberal World Order,” included Kate Cronin-Furman, the author of the forthcoming book “Just Enough: The Politics of Accountability for Mass Atrocities;” Sergey Kislitsyn, a research fellow at the Center for North American Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences; and John Packer, the director of the Human Rights Research and Education Centre at the University of Ottawa.
This panel focused on R2P, the “responsibility to protect” against global humanitarian crises and abuses. The panelists discussed the responsibility to protect sovereign states and states’ primary interests, and to prevent violent conflict.
“Although we mostly hear about the responsibility to protect at the international level, the primary responsibility rests with the sovereign state,” Cronin-Furman said. “The responsibility to protect is not enough to change a state’s fundamental interests, but it does change the conversation.”
The second panel was structured the same as the first: After panelists’ individual addresses, they heard questions from each other and audience members.
Hayley Oliver-Smith, a senior and a student in the EPIIC colloquium, presented the Jean Mayer Award for International Citizenship to Allan Rock, the Former Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations and Friday night’s keynote speaker. Though the ceremony was briefly interrupted when Rock’s award broke apart and fell to the ground, Rock quickly regained his composure and delivered his address.
Rock indicated that the liberal world order was coming to an end, and he offered a list of nine international and four national steps that can help preserve the liberal world order in the coming years. These included abandoning the notion that the current presidential administration should take full responsibility for the current state of politic, and addressing the anxiety of the public.
“It will take leadership — wide, courageous and sustained — to see us through the tumult that we are in today,” Rock told students. “There is too much at stake for us to remain outside the process of change.”
Following a time for questions and a short break, the audience reconvened for a panel on The Global Nuclear Dilemma: Power, Stability and Proliferation, moderated by EPIIC student and first-year Atrey Bhargava. The three panelists were Ambassador Joanne Adamson, the deputy head of the EU Delegation to the United Nations; Mathieu Duchâtel, the senior policy fellow and deputy director of Asia and China Programme at the European Council on Foreign Relations; and Charles Johnson, director of nuclear programs for International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. Adamson joined the conversation by Skype call because the weather prevented her from attending.
Each panelist took a different approach to what action should be taken to prevent a nuclear crisis. Johnson advocated for total disarmament, Adamson focused on nonproliferation and Duchâtel argued for the effectiveness of imposing sanctions.
“At this stage, there is no place for disarmament talks,” Duchâtel stated.
This panel was also followed by a brief time of audience questions before the Friday portion of the EPIIC Symposium concluded.
Populism and Nationalism
On Saturday, the symposium began with another panel, this one titled “A Loss of Faith: The Rise of Populism and Nationalism.” This panel, moderated by senior Liam Flaherty, included Mark Bailey, the former Foreign Affairs Assistant to the UK Prime Minister; Michael Lind, the author of “Land of Promise: An Economic History of the United States;” and Ted Piccone, a senior fellow and Charles W. Robinson chair at the Brookings Institution. Piccone and Lind both joined the conversation by Skype, as weather conditions prevented them from traveling to Tufts. Packer, a panelist on Friday’s panel “The Future of R2P? Mass Atrocities and the Liberal World Order,” also joined the conversation in person.
All of the panelists argued that a movement from the liberal world order to either nationalism or populism is dangerous, Packer specifically citing the tendency of nationalistic sentiments to be ethno-culturally oriented and turn to a conversation about national purity.
Piccone argued that nationalism and the liberal world order can coexist, but stressed that countries should still prioritize international interests.
“If everyone pursues their own [nation’s] interests without regard for their neighbors or the common good, personal interest turns to conflict,” he said.
Next, University President Anthony Monaco and EPIIC student Leila Li, a junior, introduced Amina J. Mohammed, the Deputy Secretary-General to the United Nations, for her keynote speech, “Repositioning the United Nations: Reinforcing Multilateralism in a Challenging Global Context.”
In her address, Mohammed referenced her upbringing in Nigeria and its impact on her diplomacy, as well as the importance of promoting human rights and specifically women’s rights. She noted the increase in public trust of the United Nations and business organizations, and the responsibility that comes with that increase.
An attendee asked Mohammed if the liberal world order was ending.
“I would say, no it’s not,” she said. “But multilateralism is challenged as it has never been before, and it is more important than ever that we put our muscle behind it. It is a collective responsibility, it is our home, it is our humanity.”
Evaluating Alternative Forms of Governance
On the second day of the EPIIC symposium, a 2:30 p.m. panel, “Challenging the Liberal Order: The Rise of Alternative Forms of Governance,” was moderated by EPIIC student Brendan Foley, a first-year.
Panelists included Tarun Chhabra of the Brookings Institution; Zoltán Fehér, former Hungarian diplomat and Ph.D. candidate at the Fletcher School; W. Andy Knight, who had spoken at Thursday’s panel on transnational issues; Feodor Voytolovsky, director of the Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations at the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Fehér, the first to speak, explained the rise of what he called “mixed system forms of government, or gray zone systems,” in Russia and China. He warned of the threat that these hybrid systems posed to the liberal world order, especially combined with the United States’ recent activities.
“The United States created the system and became the system operator,” Fehér said. “Now, the U.S. is withdrawing from this role.”
Chhabra examined the role of China in the liberal order by exhibiting China’s naval actions.
“[China tries to] revise the status quo and do so just below the threshold of triggering U.S. action,” he said.
He explained how such actions threaten the current “rules and norms-based” system. He explained that the U.S.-led world order — the “garden” — is coming to an end, and that a new world order without the United States’ leadership — a “jungle” — is threatening to supersede it.
“The real question is whether we want to maintain the little garden we cut out in the jungle,” Chhabra said.
Voytolovsky, the third panelist, talked about the state of the current global system and its favoritism toward Western nations.
“This group of allies has become the group of specials in the international system,” he said.
He also spoke of the hypocrisy of western nations in choosing democratic and non-democratic allies like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
Voytolovsky ended by claiming that nuclear weapons can make international actors more careful without the competitiveness of economic interdependence.
Knight, the final speaker, spoke of hybrid governance as a move towards illiberalism, using Hungary as an example.
“[Prime Minister of Hungary Victor Orban’s] 2014 speech was the epitome of illiberal states. The elites have one set of rights and the masses have another,” Knight said.
Following the panel, various experts led small group discussions and first-year EPIIC student Haruka Noishki presented the Robert and JoAnn Bendetson Public Diplomacy Award to Voytolovsky.
The United States in the World Order
The symposium’s final panel, taking place Saturday night, was moderated by first-year Matthew Jourlait. The panel examined the role of the United States in the liberal world order and featured Daniel Benaim, former speechwriter at the White House; Daniel Drezner, professor of international politics at The Fletcher School; and Anthony Dworkin, senior policy fellow at the European Council of Foreign Relations. The panel also featured Voytolovsky.
Drezner spoke about U.S. President Donald Trump’s role in the liberal order.
“Trump equates a success[ful] American foreign policy with whether people are treating him personally well,” he said.
Drezner said that Trump’s approach has damaged American soft power and diplomacy.
“It’s become ‘America the Dispensable,’” Drezner said.
Benaim explained the links between domestic and international policy in the liberal order.
“Every time the words ‘liberal international order’ are uttered, a Trump supporter or Brexiter is born,” he explained.
Dworkin offered a European perspective on relations with the U.S.
“Europe is mainly institutionalist, while the U.S. usually goes against that,” he explained.
This disconnect in views, he said, has led to a fraying of relations between European countries and the United States.