15 September 2021

Within its series of varied scholarly activities, TRENDS Research and Advisory organized an e-symposium entitled: “The Future of the International Order in the Next Fifty Years“, with the participation of Professor Maha Hosain Aziz, Professor at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at New York University, USA; Dr. Manqing Cheng, a researcher at the University of Auckland in New Zealand; Dr. Emil Avdaliani, Director of Middle East Studies Geocase in Georgia; Dr. George N. Tzogopoulos, Director of EU-China Programmes at the Centre International de Formation Européenne (CIFE) in the French Republic; and Ambassador Dr. Alaa Al-Hadidi, Advisor to the Egyptian Cabinet President of Information and Decision Support Centre for Foreign Affairs.

The participants in the symposium stressed that the next fifty years will witness many important shifts, and the world’s leadership therein will not be represented by a single pole of power, but will rather be multipolar. That period will also witness the rise of new powers, most notably China and Asia in general. The participants pointed out that the global competition in the next 50 years will not be military or economic, but rather technological.

In her introduction to the symposium, TRENDS researcher Amal Al-Breiki said that the symposium will address several topics, namely: the shifts in the structure of the international order in the pre-Covid-19 era; the international order in the post-Covid-19 era: the limits of change; the future of the international system in the next fifty years: shifts in the balance of power and the role of international actors; potential shifts in the international order on the Middle East; and an Arab perspective on how to deal with potential shifts in the international system.

At the beginning of the symposium, the participants were welcomed by the moderator of the symposium, Dr. Nath Aldalala’a, professor of international relations and researcher at TRENDS Research and Advisory, who said that the Corona pandemic has created many challenges and opportunities that require future predictions as given by experts in this symposium.

Participants: Global competition in the next 50 years will not be military or economic, but rather technological.

Shifts in the balances of power and roles of international actors

At the outset, Dr. Emil Avdaliani, Director of Middle East Studies Geocase in Georgia, presented a working paper entitled: “Shifts in the Balances of Power and the Roles of International Actors”, in which he indicated that the liberal world order is living its last moment, and that the future order would be more chaotic, given that China, Russia, and other countries will strive toward a new Eurasian order. He said that China will offer a pragmatic model that accepts international pluralism, while Russia will seek more radical changes. Avdaliani suggested that the future order would be a complex and bifurcated global system within which the US and China lead limited groups of loyal countries.

He pointed out that the liberal system had collapsed after the emergence of the Corona pandemic, and that the world has entered a stage of non-coexistence and keeping pace with the current situation, along with the transition to a major official competition between China and the US.

He stated that there are differences and discrepancies between modern China and the current US, both of which seek to build an independent and separate order from the other. He stressed that the two countries cannot and would not be able to separate from the global order, suggesting that a US-led group of international powers would emerge to confront the Chinese forces. On the other hand, China, with its global alliances, would be America’s biggest competitor. It will build a new system that would be based on the spirit of technology and innovation. It will also strive to build great relations with neighboring countries. He stressed that China will position itself in the new world order because the era of the old traditional blocs will fade over the next fifty years. Several countries around the world will also try to build their own order in the next fifty years, and their approach would depend on what China and the US would do. He pointed out that future changes would be acceptable to many countries around the world, and that those countries would try to maneuver with the major players. He concluded by saying that complete separation between the US and China is impossible, as China will not be able to completely separate from the US.

The international system in the post-Covid-19 era: limits of change

For her part, Professor Maha Hosain Aziz, Professor at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at New York University, USA, spoke at the beginning of her paper of the United States of America at the level of the global order, and said that it would not have the legitimacy to lead the new world given the rise of China at all levels.

She said that the coming era would witness the emergence of regional rather than global, blocs. There would also be a role for non-governmental actors and influencers, such as giant technology companies, because of their great influence at the world level.

She stated that the Corona pandemic has imposed a new diplomacy; namely the diplomacy of Corona and vaccines, although there are many questions about the effectiveness of Chinese vaccines. She added that it is bilateral relations that would dominate the new world in the next fifty years.

Professor Maha Hosain Aziz said that democracy is facing major crises in the US, and it is not the viable model for peoples at the present time. This suggests that a new social contract would likely be formulated, and a new relationship between states and peoples would be developed.

She explained that many challenges have arisen worldwide due to the Corona pandemic in the areas of work, unemployment, social classes, economic conditions and health care, and wondered how those areas would actually look like in the future. She concluded her paper by emphasizing that there will not be a single leadership that controls the global order in the next fifty years.

The future world leadership will be multipolar

An Arab perspective on how to deal with future potential shifts in the international system

For his part, Ambassador Dr. Alaa Al-Hadidi, Advisor to the Egyptian Cabinet President of Information and Decision Support Centre for Foreign Affairs, said in a working paper entitled “An Arab perspective on how to deal with future potential shifts in the international system”, that we are witnessing today more talk about confrontation and containment between the US and China. Everyone is currently focusing on the relationship between China and the US in the future. He added that we should prepare for a coming war, which is not a cold war, and that it was uncertain how confrontation between China and the US would be prevented.

Al-Hadidi stated that the majority of observers focused on the economic, military and technological relations between China and the US, and see that the future race between them is neither military nor economic, but rather technological.

He pointed out that during the next 50 years, we will witness a radical shift in today’s world due to the emergence of new actors and powers on the global scene. The axis of forces will be concentrated in Asia. He said that India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Japan will be the rising powers during the next fifty years in light of the decline and waning of the power of Western countries.

Al-Hadidi called on the Arab world to build major economic relations with the countries of Asia because America’s dependence on the Arab region’s oil would be less than previosuly. He pointed out that the North African (Maghreb) countries will open up more to Europe in the next fifty years.

Potential shifts in the international order and their impact on the Middle East

Dr. George N. Tzogopoulos, Director of EU-China Programmes at the Centre International de Formation Européenne (CIFE) in the French Republic, asserted that the world is becoming increasingly unpredictable, noting that the best way to understand the dynamics of the world is the application of step-by-step approaches because what is happening globally is unpredictable.

He said that anticipating the future for the Middle East is reflected in the development of future US-Chinese relations. He pointed out that the Middle East will not be a hotbed of global conflicts in the next fifty years.

Tzogopoulos pointed out that there are signs of a US abandonment of the Middle East, warning of its repercussions on the US itself before the Middle East, especially because a withdrawal would open more space for China. At the same time, he emphasized that the stability of the Middle East countries would reflect positively on the Western countries.

He stated that China is a leading country in the fields of advanced technology, and may become a technological superpower in the next 50 years. He explained that China has faced many unexpected challenges, which are the result of US foreign policies that seek to put obstacles in front of China to prevent it from achieving its long-term goals.

Shifts in the structure of the international order in the pre-Covid-19 era

On the other hand, Manqing Cheng, a researcher at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, said that the Corona pandemic has brought about a pivotal and important change at the level of the global order. Furthermore, peoples have become aware of their rights and the emergence of multiple orders at the global level. She noted that the axis of the world was shifting towards Asia, as a region of accelerated economic development, which heralds the disappearance of old countries and superpowers. She stressed that the balance of global power developed well before Covid-19.

Researcher Cheng said that today, we are at the threshold of a new industrial and technological revolution at the level of robotics and digital technology. This would pose challenges at the level of distribution, manufacturing, and employment opportunities. It would also affect relations between countries. Manqing Cheng said that the future would witness a diversification of systems, such as the systems of digital currency and advanced technology. There will also be another challenge related to the overlap of multiple regimes. She added that populism had begun to spread in Europe and the US, and had become a dilemma for many countries. However, she concluded her paper by assuring that the world has not changed and will not do so drastically after the Corona pandemic. International cooperation would continue to exist despite the tensions between countries.

At the conclusion of the symposium, everyone affirmed that the next fifty years would witness many global shifts and that everyone should prepare for them. Subsequently, Dr. Mohammed Abdullah Al-Ali, CEO of TRENDS Research and Advisory, expressed thanks and appreciation to the participants in the symposium for the useful information they provided that was of interest to today’s world. He stressed that by choosing this type of symposium, TRENDS seeks to provide comprehensive knowledge to society and decision makers.