In This Review

Contested World Orders: Rising Powers, Non-Governmental Organizations, and the Politics of Authority Beyond the Nation-State
Contested World Orders: Rising Powers, Non-Governmental Organizations, and the Politics of Authority Beyond the Nation-State
Edited by Matthew D. Stephen and Michael Zurn
416 pp, Oxford University Press, 2019
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In this impressive collection, political theorists map the contours of today’s unsettled global order. Stephen and Zurn argue that the current struggle over world order is unlike past great-power collisions, when the terms of the global order were decided in a contest between a rising power and a declining one. In this era, the global system is so densely institutionalized that competition is more complex and decentralized, with a multitude of states, international organizations, and transnational groups aligning and clashing over the reform of rules and regimes. In assessing the health of the liberal international order and the demands for reforming its old norms and institutions, the contributors focus on a wide variety of global institutions, including the World Trade Organization, the G-7, and the UN Human Rights Council. Stephen and Zurn conclude that the rise of China and other non-Western developing states has not sparked a clear-cut conflict over the fundamental principles of global order. Instead, a contest is underway in which states vie for authority and status primarily within specific international institutions. Rising states do not want to extinguish the liberal character of the global system as much as reform existing intergovernmental institutions to better advance and protect their societies and political regimes.