Transitional Orders: Analyzing Changing International Orders in Europe and Beyond

An event of the research cluster "Governance of global cooperation networks"

Organizers: Simon Koschut (Chair of International Security) & Andrea Schneiker (Chair of Global Governance)

The current war in Ukraine is changing the existing security order – not only within Europe, but also beyond. The Russian invasion has made clear that interstate war has returned as a danger that looms even over regions which enjoyed unprecedented periods of peace such as Europe. We find ourselves in a time of transition: the old security order (based on the Helsinki Accords) has been destroyed, but a new order has not yet emerged. Restraint on the use of force, inviolability of borders and territorial integrity, peaceful settlement of disputes, non-interference in internal affairs, national self-determination, respect for human rights – basic principles of the United Nations and the related world order after 1945 – are openly challenged by Russia’s war of aggression into Ukraine. The war has also triggered a humanitarian crisis, including millions of refugees, internally displaced persons, war crimes, and economic disaster. The war in Ukraine has also demonstrated that the current provision of critical infrastructure – be it energy supply, internet, telecommunications or basic food items – is fragile and lacks resilience. Yet, the breakdown of the existing order does not mean that there is no more order. Instead, in light of these challenges, security actors start to reorder their relations with others.

Time and again, external “shocks”, major shifts, and other far-reaching events have led to turning points, and to sudden and unforeseen changes and fundamental disruptions of the existing international order. While there is no dearth in studies on the decline and (re)formation of international orders, little is known about the “time-in-between”: the twilight phase of transitional orders.

In this workshop, we dealt with the framework conditions and influencing factors of transitional orders: How can we analytically capture (conceptually and theoretically) orders that are not meant to persist? To what extent does temporality matter, i.e. to what extent does the provisional character of the order affect its design and acceptance? What is the relation between the transitional and the future order to come? Is the transitional order a sort of laboratory for new structures? What are the drivers and effects of transitional orders? What roles do trust, interests, power, practices, institutions, or identities play during these times of uncertainty? Which actors manage to impose their ideas and interests? Which actors act as managers and entrepreneurs of the transition?

Specifically, studying transitional orders requires a rethinking of established certainties and a redefinition of the core elements that might make up the future international order:

  • rethink the role of international governmental organizations in terms of providers of common goods
  • rethink the role of international law as an instrument to process the transition
  • rethink the interdependence between various public goods such as security, food, energy, trade, welfare
  • rethink existing or emerging hierarchies and dependencies between different actors
  • rethink the power of non-state actors that provide critical infrastructure

Workshop on the 22. - 23. September 2022 at Zeppelin University

Preview Picture: Juliana Kozoski | Unsplash.com (CCO Public Domain)

Time to decide

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