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World Order 2.0

The Case for Sovereign Obligation

Rocket man: Kim Jong Un at a missile testing site, April 2016. KCNA / REUTERS

For nearly four centuries, since the Peace of Westphalia, which ended the Thirty Years’ War, the concept of sovereignty—the right of nations to an independent existence and autonomy—has occupied the core of what international order there has been. This made sense, for as every century including the current one has witnessed, a world in which borders are forcibly violated is a world of instability and conflict.

But an approach to international order premised solely on respect for sovereignty, together with the maintenance of the balance of power necessary to secure it, is no longer sufficient. The globe’s traditional operating system—call it World Order 1.0—has been built around the protection and prerogatives of states. It is increasingly inadequate in today’s globalized world. Little now stays local; just about anyone and anything, from tourists, terrorists, and refugees to e-mails, diseases, dollars, and greenhouse gases, can reach almost

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