On the 17th of January, during his visit in India, Mr. Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and future prime-minister of UK ( Tony [Anthony] Blair is expected to step down later this year) made an intriguing comment, similar to the one Mr. George W. Bush Senior made almost 16 years ago, announcing the emergence of a “new world order”.

For many the very idea of “world order” seems strange or meaningless, surrounded by a shroud of mystery. After all, is not “my” choice about it and for those who do care about it, the world order is too impersonal, created either by some powerful untouchable people or by the simple evolution of human society.

Therefore, first I would like to make some things clear about “world order”. World order, in common understanding, is the actually interaction and balance of different international and supranational actors on the world stage, you could as well call it “the rules of the game”. Few people actually realise that the world of international relations is in an anarchic state. There are no written rules or higher bodies to regulate the way things work, theoretically everyone does whatever wants but because this unavoidable creates a balance of power, nobody actually does whatever wants, the are constrains naturally created by the other actors. However, as things evolve so do the rules change and when they do…we get a “new world order”.

So what is this “new world order” that Mr. Brown was talking about and how is it different from the one that Mr. Bush announced in March 1991?

Things are very different today from what they were sixteen years ago. Our world has gone through many, important and unanticipated changes. The world order that Senior Bush mentioned in his speech was mainly referring to the fall of the Soviet Union, the end of the Cold War and of the bipolar world order, consequently with the emergence of a new unipolar world. Yet by the late 90s, that world was already starting to fade away…

Today’s “new world order” is a result of more than 20 years of intensive reshaping of the world, especially due to economic and financial globalisation. Financial markets have grown and adapted rapidly and now we can speak of almost complete globalisation and freedom in this area. Every day, about 3.2 trillion dollars move between country borders, that is about a quarter of USA’s GDP. For many, the implications of such huge flows of money around the world are unthinkable. A mutual fund or a pension fund usually controls around 200-300 billion dollars and when such institutions decide to speculate, hell can break loos. The Asian crises of 1997 as well as the Argentinean crises in 2001 stand proof for the power of the financial markets as well as for the huge giants that operate within them. Probably, the greatest problem they raise is that there is no one to control them.

Another aspect of globalisation is its economic dimension. Most of the countries in the Northern hemisphere have engaged in so deep commercial engagements that it would be virtually impossible to break away from the commercial interconnection that has come about in the last 15 years. Commercial exchanges are now about 25% of the world GDP.

Over all this, come other problems that can only be tackled at world scale and need the will of all countries. Global climate change, (which is now on the top world agenda, terrorism is second) nuclear proliferation, the rise of China as a superpower, space demilitarization, immigration, world poverty (which has increased in the past 10 years), all need the attention of the entire world. However, there are no international organizations to deal with all these problems and those that are, have no real power in these matters or fail to do what they are supposed to do.

This is exactly what Mr. Gordon Brown was talking about, the need for stronger international and supranational institutions to solve our global problems. To regulate the “rules of the game” so that people will suffer less from the negative aspects of globalisation or the incapability or the nations to work together towards a better future. All changes that came with the 21st century shout for a change in the workings of world politics, for a new world order. Unfortunately, this is not a matter of choice, for there is no real alternative.

How this new world order will look like, no one is sure, but it might take a while until it will come about and we should not expect any important change until the elections of a new president in USA.