Post–cold War “New World Order”
The term new world order has been used to refer to any new period of history evidencing a
dramatic change in world political thought and the balance of power.
Despite various interpretations of this term, it is primarily associated with the ideological
notion of global governance only in the sense of new collective efforts to identify, understand,
or address worldwide problems that go beyond the capacity of individual nation-states to
solve. The most widely discussed application of the phrase in recent times came at the end of
the Cold War.
The phrase "new world order", as used to herald in the post–Cold War era, had no developed
or substantive definition. There appear to have been three distinct periods in which it was
progressively redefined, first by the Soviets, and later by the United States before the Malta
Conference, and again after Bush's speech of September 11, 1990.
I. At first, the new world order dealt almost exclusively with nuclear disarmament and security
arrangements, a great power cooperation on a range of North-South, economic, and security
problems. Implications for NATO, the Warsaw Pact, and European integration were included.
II. The Malta Conference collected these various expectations, and they were fleshed out in more
detail by the press. German reunification, human rights, and the polarity of the international
system were then included.
III. The Gulf War crisis refocused the term on superpower cooperation and regional crises.
The first press reference to the phrase came from Russo-Indian talks, November 21, 1988. The new world
order which he describes is characterized by "non-violence and the principles of peaceful coexistence." He
also includes the possibility of a sustained peace, an alternative to the nuclear balance of terror,
dismantling of nuclear weapons systems, significant cuts in strategic arms, and eventually a general and
complete disarmament. This, in his opinion, would spur the creation of "a new security framework" and a
move towards "a new world order.
The principal statement creating the new world order concept came from Mikhail Gorbachev’s December
7, 1988 speech to the United Nations General Assembly. His formulation included an extensive list of
ideas in creating a new order. He advocated strengthening the central role of the United Nations, and the
active involvement of all members—the Cold War had prevented the UN and its Security Council from
performing their roles as initially envisioned.
He argued that the use of force or the threat of the use of force was no longer legitimate, and that the
strong must demonstrate restraint toward the weak. He foresaw, as the major powers of the world, the
United States, the Soviet Union, Europe, India, China, Japan, and Brazil.
He asked for cooperation on environmental protection, on debt relief for developing countries, on
disarmament of nuclear weapons. At the same time he promised the significant withdrawal of Soviet
forces from Eastern Europe and Asia.
He was seen as attempting a fundamental redefinition of international relationships, on economic and
environmental levels. His support "for independence, democracy and social justice" was highlighted, But
the principle message taken from his speech was that of a new world order based on pluralism, tolerance,
The new world order seemed to imply: shifting of resources from military to domestic needs; a world
community of states based on the rule of law.
Rule Of Law
The rule of law primarily refers to the influence and authority of law within society,
especially as a constraint upon behavior, including behavior of government
officials. The phrase was popularized in the 19th century by British jurist A. V. Dicey.
In The New World Order, it plays an important role.
Gorbachev explicitly highlighted that states “subordinate their foreign policy activities
It is important to note the linkage created between New World Order, rule of law-
international law, and the United Nations. Just how would these New World Order
“legal arrangements” of international law be implemented and what is the relationship
to the United Nations?
The international “rule of law” has the potential to govern much more than the
“conduct of nations.”
“The individual person has emerged as an independent actor” demonstrating that “the
international system is no longer confined to relations among nations.” And, “national
and international tribunals are offering new - and more effective - means for enforcing
Many Interpretations have been published. The main two
1. The first interpretation is that the new world order
reflects a presumption that international institutions and,
in particular, the United Nations, will be taking a more
active and important role in global management.
2. The second interpretation is that the phrase ‘New World
Order’ is merely descriptive, requiring no more than
acceptance that the current situation is unique and
clearly different in critical respects “from the past.”
Interpretations Of The New World Order
San Francisco Conference: The United Nations charter was established at the San
Francisco Conference in June, 1945. The War and Peace Studies of World War II
provided the backdrop for the development of the United Nations.
After 1942, all study groups of the War and Peace Studies shifted focus from the war
effort to developing the structure and responsibilities of the future United Nations
“The founding of the United Nations embodied our deepest hopes for a peaceful world.”
- George Bush October 1, 1990
Policing or peacekeeping implied that armed forces are “under community control and
used only against those who break community laws.” Peacekeeping has proven to be one
of the most effective tools available to the UN to assist host countries navigate the
difficult path from conflict to peace.
The first peacekeeping mission was launched in 1948.
In 1988 the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the United Nations peacekeeping forces.
The new world order provides the UN to play a vital role in the settlement of issues
without war and with peace.
A Credible United Nations And Its
The Malta Conference
The Malta summit is considered as the official end of the Cold
War (continuing state of political conflict, military tension).
It consisted of a meeting between U.S. President George H. W.
Bush and U.S.S.R. leader Mikhail Gorbachev, taking place between
December 2nd and 3rd in 1989, just a few weeks after the fall of
the Berlin Wall.
The Malta summit signaled a major turning point in East-West
relations lifting the Iron Curtain which had separated the Eastern
Bloc from Western Europe for four decades. The purpose of the
summit was to provide the two superpowers with an opportunity to
discuss rapid changed taking place in Europe.
The Gulf War & Bush’s Formulation
Bush started to take the initiative from Gorbachev during the run-up to the Persian Gulf War, when
he began to define the elements of the new world order as he saw it, and link the new order’s success
to the international community’s response in Kuwait.
Initial agreement by the Soviets to allow action against Saddam highlighted this linkage in the
press. The idea that the Persian Gulf War would usher in the new world order began to take shape.
Bush notes that the "premise was that the United States henceforth would be obligated to lead the
world community to an unprecedented degree, as demonstrated by the Iraqi crisis, and that we should
attempt to pursue our national interests, wherever possible, within a framework of concert with our
friends and the international community.”
In September 11, 1990 "Toward a New World Order" President Bush addressed Congress in a speech
on the new world order in the Middle East, following the expulsion of Iraqi forces from Kuwait.
Michael Oren summarizes the speech, saying; “The president proceeded to outline his plan for
maintaining a permanent U.S. naval presence in the Persian Gulf, for providing funds for Middle East
development, and for instituting safeguards against the spread of unconventional weapons.
The centerpiece of his program, however, was the achievement of an Arab-Israeli treaty based on
the territory-for-peace principle and the fulfillment of Palestinian rights.
On January 17, 1991, American and allied forces began launching air attacks on Iraqi forces and on
February 24 the ground campaign began. By February 27, the coalition had achieved their stated
mission of ejecting the Iraqi army out of Kuwait. Exactly 100 hundred hours after the ground battle
had begun, the allies suspended all offensive operations.
Though the Gulf War was recognized as a decisive victory for the coalition, Kuwait and
Iraq suffered enormous damage, and Saddam Hussein was not forced from power.
Intended by coalition leaders to be a “limited” war fought at minimum cost, it would have
lingering effects for years to come, both in the Persian Gulf region and around the world.
In the years that followed, U.S. and British aircraft continued to patrol skies and mandate a
no-fly zone over Iraq, while Iraqi authorities made every effort to frustrate the carrying out
of the peace terms, especially United Nations weapons inspections. This resulted in a brief
resumption of hostilities in 1998, after which Iraq steadfastly refused to admit weapons
inspectors. In addition, Iraqi force regularly exchanged fire with U.S. and British aircraft
over the no-fly zone.
In 2002, the United States sponsored a new U.N. resolution calling for the return of
weapons inspectors to Iraq; U.N. inspectors reentered Iraq that November. In differences
between Security Council member states over how well Iraq had complied with those
inspections, the United States and Britain began amassing forces on Iraq’s border. Bush
(without further U.N. approval) issued an ultimatum on March 17, 2003, demanding that
Saddam Hussein step down from power and leave Iraq within 48 hours, under threat of
war. Hussein refused, and the second Persian Gulf War–more generally known as the Iraq
War–began three days later.
Aftermath Of The Persian Gulf War
An article was published explaining the drive toward the Persian Gulf War in
terms presaging the run-up to the Iraq War of 2003. The author notes directly
that despite the coalition, in the minds of most governments this is America's
war, and Bush that "chose to stake his political life on defeating Mr. Hussein.
They assert that diplomacy should have been given more time, and that they will
not wish to allow a course of action "that leaves America sitting too prettily as
sole remaining superpower.“
It closes noting that a wide consensus is not necessary for U.S. action—only a
hard core of supporters: Saudi Arabia, Arab states of the Persian Gulf, Egypt,
and Britain. In a passage with similar echoes of the future, Bush explains the
role of the UN Secretary General in attempting to avert the Persian Gulf War.
The UN leaders came to Bush to end up this war, but Bush didn’t agree and
stated that it is needed otherwise it will be a threat to UN and the whole world.
Presaging The Iraq War Of 2003
The speech signified more than just the rhetoric about superpower
cooperation. In fact, the deeper reality of the new world order was the
United States’ emergence "as the single greatest power in a multipolar
world. The United States, while hampered by economic malaise, was
militarily unconstrained for the first time since the end of World War
II. Militarily, it was now a unipolar world, as illustrated by the Persian
Further, U.S. authority over the Soviets was displayed in:-
1. The unification of Germany, withdrawal of Soviet forces, and
almost open appeal to Washington for aid in managing the Soviet
transition to democracy
2. Withdrawal of Soviet support for Third World clients.
3. Soviets seeking economic aid through membership in Western
international economic and trade communities. 09
In discussing the post-Cold War developments and the emerging world order in that era,
several concluding remarks can be drawn from the above analysis, summarized as follows:-
The new international system in the post-Cold War period has been marked by a seeming
contradiction: on the one hand, fragmentation; on the other, growing globalization.
On the level of the relations among states, the new world order is based on major power
cooperation. The international system contains at least five major powers – the United
States, Europe, Russia, Japan, and China.
Among major powers, the United States will continue to be the greatest power in the short
In conjunction with increasing international cooperation, inter-state wars have declined
and “low politics” gained greater importance in international affairs.
With the spread of global market economy and rapid expansion of foreign investments,
developing countries, though they are cautious about foreign investments, are likely to be
doing better in the future.
The North-South conflict aside, the post-Cold War world faces several other threats, most
notably, ethnically-driven conflicts, religious militancy and terrorism, supported by some