Research event

‘Piggy in the middle’ – The liberal international order between global and domestic change

A talk by Trine Flockhart (Professor of International Relations at the Kent University).

An initiative of the Centre for International Security Policy at the Hertie School.

It is widely agreed that the liberal international order is in question and that its institutions appear to be floundering. This paper introduces a conceptualisation of ‘the international’ as three levels of governance consisting of a systemic level of governance, an international society level of governance and a domestic level of governance. I show that each of these three levels of governance interact with each other in ways that have not been fully explored in traditional International Relations theory, but which may offer an enhanced understanding of the current crisis of the liberal international order (LIO). The paper shows that LIO is conceptually located at the international society level of governance and is currently being adversely affected by changes taking place at the system level of governance and at the domestic level of governance. The paper focuses on the increasing ‘rule of power’ at the international system level exemplified by Russia and China and the decreasing ‘power of rules’ at the domestic level of governance exemplified by the election of Donald Trump and the British Brexit referendum. Both of these change processes have profound – but negative effects on the values, cohesion and legitimacy of the current liberal international order.