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The recipe for a more secure and stable global order ahead of MSC 2024

Fabio Massimo Parenti

People gather in Bayerischer Hof Hotel ahead of the 60th Munich Security Conference, Munich, Germany, February 15, 2024. /CFP
People gather in Bayerischer Hof Hotel ahead of the 60th Munich Security Conference, Munich, Germany, February 15, 2024. /CFP

People gather in Bayerischer Hof Hotel ahead of the 60th Munich Security Conference, Munich, Germany, February 15, 2024. /CFP

Editor's note: Fabio Massimo Parenti, a special commentator on current affairs for CGTN, is an associate professor of International Studies at China Foreign Affairs University, Beijing, and a member of various think tanks. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily those of CGTN.

From February 16-18 2024 the Munich Security Conference (MSC), now in its 60th year, is held at the Bayerischer Hof Hotel in Munich, Germany. The three-day event will bring together senior decision-makers and thought leaders from around the world to discuss the most pressing international security concerns. The event should theoretically have as its main mission to "provide a platform for consequential debates and build peace through dialogue."

Put differently, the MSC should on paper be a viable arena within which to hold talks regarding the most pressing security challenges worldwide. However, we used the conditional tense several times because, judging from what went on at the 59th edition of the conference, there is a risk that there could be a repetition of excessive and unwarranted representation of the United States and NATO members. If this happens again this year, it would mean that the rest of the world, particularly the Global South, will not be adequately heard during the event.

The point is that the aforementioned countries of the Global South have long wanted to have a say in the most relevant global issues while expressing their resentment toward the current international order led essentially by the West.

According to the Munich Security Report 2023, this order is even facing a revisionist impact. The reality is much simpler: as early as a year ago, many Western leaders acknowledged that the current global order is unbalanced and that countries in the West are rapidly losing the trust of the global South. In contrast, the report connected to the last MSC, titled "Re:vision," explored the intensification of "authoritarian revisionism" and the "growing contrast between different visions of the international order," suggesting a dichotomy between "good countries" and evil ones. The document also repeatedly reiterated the need to defend a "rules-based liberal order," although this periphrasis, in addition to becoming hollow by now, implies the exclusion of most of the world's governments, with the exception of the United States, Europe and a very few other Western partners.

Bayerischer Hof Hotel, Munich, Germany, February 15, 2024. /CFP
Bayerischer Hof Hotel, Munich, Germany, February 15, 2024. /CFP

Bayerischer Hof Hotel, Munich, Germany, February 15, 2024. /CFP

As can be guessed, there is a tendency to fan the flames, fuel a Cold War mentality and turn international political relations into a zero-sum game. Where someone (the West) wins and someone else (the rest of the world) loses. Well, to embrace a true commitment to a new free and orderly world order, it is as necessary as ever to insist on two directives: First, include the Global South in the real decision-making arenas of the international community; and second, work to create a human community with a shared future.

While there is little to add to the first point, the second calls into question a concept repeatedly proposed by China but which, in fact, coincides with what the United Nations Organization has set forth. The reference is to a world in which all countries work together to solve global crises, whether they relate to the outbreak of a regional crisis or to environmental or social issues. Not least because poverty reduction, countering carbon emissions, peace and development should be issues of common concern.

Compared to a year ago, there is a new regional crisis that has come into the spotlight: the Israeli crisis, which is affecting the Middle East (and beyond). In addition, we find an unresolved Ukrainian crisis, rising tensions in the Indo-Pacific (from the South China Sea to the Korean Peninsula), rising inequalities on a planetary scale, as well as rising prices of basic goods and energy. All, or almost all, a consequence of the attitude shown in the foreign relations of NATO and the West.

As it happens, for many countries in the Global South – the same countries that have long since stopped following the West – the escalation of these and other crises may slowly lead toward a Third World War. MSC 2024 can thus be a forum to claim the urgency of changing a world order that is increasingly ill-suited to solve the crises of the present. A world order that will necessarily have to be multipolar, in which China, India, ASEAN member states, and African, Latin American, European, and Middle Eastern countries can have an equal say in global affairs.

Speaking of China, the Chinese recipe for resolving crises is simple: Resolve differences through negotiations and not by stoking wars or conflicts. On the contrary, the feeling is that the United States aims to maintain its global hegemony so as to abuse its military, economic, technological and financial power to coerce, sanction and intimidate other countries. In all this, if NATO believes that a more just and equitable global order comes from its greater expansion, even well beyond the North Atlantic into the Asia-Pacific, then this is a recipe that will lead the world toward even more serious and troubling global instability than it is now. We might call it: A recipe for disaster.

(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at opinions@cgtn.com. Follow @thouse_opinions on Twitter to discover the latest commentaries in the CGTN Opinion Section.)

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