The fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989 remains a powerful image of the forces of freedom at work. West and East Germans hammered at the wall, destroying the most enduring symbol of the Cold War. In the next two years, Communist regimes were overthrown in East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania. In February 1991 the Warsaw Pact was disbanded and in December of the same year, the USSR had ceased to exist. Francis Fukuyama famously announced the end of history; the triumph of liberal ideology and of the U.S. sponsored capitalist ‘free’ world over communism. A new world order under U.S. leadership was consolidated and few questioned the status of the U.S. as only superpower. We were living at an age of unipolarity. After merely 25 years, these claims now sound rather hollow. Shaken by a succession of financial crises, general economic stagnation, and the rise of populist political movements in Europe and the United States, the liberal ideology seems to be on the back foot and its torchbearer running out of steam. This outcome prompted many observers to claim that the Liberal International Order was on its deathbed and that the world was bound to enter a period of instability and uncertainty characterised by great powers competition.
Yet, the concept of order, when applied to the ‘international’, remains open and is fundamentally contested. It is the aim of this international research network to step back from the current frenzy characterising the ‘end’ of the liberal international order debate to explore dynamics of order both from multi-regional and historical perspectives.
The World Order Watch (WOW) international network connects international relations researchers sharing an intellectual interest in the dynamics of global order. Our network members are based in China, Germany, Hungary, India, Israel, Netherlands, South Africa, United Kingdom, and The United States of America.
The objective of the network is to generate an international cross-disciplinary reflection on global order from a multi-regional perspective. The network aims to assess how knowledge on global order is produced through observation, reflection, and report on local civil society and governmental discourses on the state of global order. Ultimately, the network seeks to contrast alternative conceptualisations of global order generated in various regions of the world in order to better comprehend its evolutionary dynamics over time and space.