go to top

Diplomatic Fallout: Despite Setbacks, Liberal Internationalism Is Not Dead Yet

Monday, Nov. 18, 2013

Did the liberal international order get a little less liberal last week? Western diplomats and human rights activists faced an accumulation of challenges across the United Nations system. On Tuesday, the General Assembly elected a clutch of repressive regimes—including China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam—to the Human Rights Council. On Friday, African countries forced a showdown in the Security Council over the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) pursuit of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Vice President William Ruto for stirring up election-related violence in 2007, accusing the U.N. of disrespect for Africa.

To pessimistic observers, these developments are symptomatic of a slow erosion of Western influence and liberal principles in multilateral affairs, the latest skirmishes in a long diplomatic war of attrition over values that has ebbed and flowed in multilateral organizations for decades. After the Cold War, liberal principles appeared to be in the ascendant, especially in U.N. forums. Victories included the creation of the ICC and the emergence of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) principle as a recognized norm. Yet the Iraq crisis, China’s rise and Western economic weakness during the financial crisis interrupted the consolidation of such liberal mechanisms and norms. ...

Want to Read the Rest?
Login or Subscribe Today.
Get unlimited access to must-read news, analysis and opinion from top experts. Subscribe to World Politics Review and you'll receive instant access to 9,000+ articles in the World Politics Review Library, along with new comprehensive analysis every weekday . . . written by leading topic experts.

YES, I want to subscribe now.