Global diplomacy and governance
Centenary research theme
SOAS was founded at the height of the First World War and witnessed the growth of the League of Nations and the International Court of Justice, then the United Nations, as formal institutional mechanisms to promote peaceful dialogue and global governance. In the recent decades, the realm of the ‘international’ has expanded further, to incorporate institutions such as the International Criminal Court and formal international processes around issues such as trade, finance, human rights, migration, poverty, climate change and biodiversity. However, these have frequently been driven by the West – by Western ideas, power and interests.
The ‘big story’ of the 21st century is already the emergence of Asia, Africa and the Middle East as key regions that are increasingly challenging US and European power in diverse ways. In this context, the core question for SOAS over the coming century is what this shifting centre of geopolitical power will mean for the underpinning values of governance and diplomacy, such as democracy, consent or trust. What will a genuinely ‘decolonised’ world look like? Will this lead to a diversity of approaches to local, national and international governance, or a new common approach? And how will changing global processes play out at local level in terms of security, well-being and inter-cultural dialogue? We will seek to reach out to thought leaders in emerging countries such as China, India, Brazil and Indonesia, both to look back at governance and diplomacy over the past 100 years and look forward.