'Developing countries and the crisis of the multilateral order'

Call for papers for special issue of the journal Politics and Governance on 'Developing countries and the crisis of the multilateral order' (pre-announcement).

Edited by Wil Hout, Professor of Governance and International Political Economy at the International Institute of Social Studies, the special issue wishes to include papers that undertake more general assessments of how the crisis of multilateral order impacts on developing countries, next to papers that focus on particular regions or policy domains.

Papers should reflect on what challenges (may) derive from the changes in multilateral governance arrangements for specific (groups of) developing countries and how these countries aim to deal with them. Possible questions include the following:

  • Do new forms of cooperation result from the reconfiguration of international order?
  • Do countries reposition themselves vis-à-vis the West and the BRICS?
  • Do new patterns of South-South cooperation emerge from the increased assertiveness of China and other BRICS countries?
  • Do developing countries experience new relations of dependence?

How to submit a paper

Submissions of proposals for papers, accompanied by an abstract of 200 words, can be sent by 30 October 2020 to Wil Hout at hout@iss.nl.

The deadline for full paper submissions has not been fixed, but will be in mid-2021.

The state of the multilateral (or 'liberal') international order has received much scholarly attention in the past decade. A variety of events and longer-term processes has led many observers to argue that the multilateral order is in crisis (cf. Duncombe and Dunne 2018; Ikenberry 2018). The nationalist rhetoric of the Trump Administration in the US and the Chinese initiatives to create alternative international institutions are often cited to evidence that the principles guiding the post-World War II multilateral order have come under pressure.

Most analyses of the crisis of multilateralism future of the international order have focused on the role of the West, in particular the decline of US hegemony and the rise to prominence of the BRICS countries. Many observers seem to agree that the crisis reflects the advent of a more pluralistic international order, which is sometimes referred to as a 'post-Western' order (Hurrell 2018; Stuenkel 2016) or a 'multiplex order' (Acharya 2017, 2018).  While some authors have assessed the rise of the BRICS in terms of the potential for counter-hegemony (cf. Drezner 2019), various scholars have expressed criticism about the transformative potential of the BRICS for South-South cooperation (Morvaridi and Hughes 2018) and others have raised doubts about the coherence of the BRICS as a political force (cf. Beeson and Zeng 2018).

With all focus on increased importance of the BRICS countries, with China at its core, there tends to be much less attention to the impact that changes in the institutional makeup and international rules have for developing countries. Analyses of the effects of the crisis of the multilateral order for developing countries are timely for a variety of reasons.

First, it is important theoretically to understand how changing policy preferences of powerful states in the international order influence multilateral governance arrangements and thereby impact the policy options of developing countries. The crisis of multilateralism may stimulate new forms of cooperation among developing countries, for instance through new regionalist initiatives.

Secondly, it is relevant from a policy perspective to appreciate how changes in governance institutions may have a bearing on the international agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals. Of particular relevance are the targets subsumed under SDG17, which aims to ‘strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development’ (United Nations 2020). SDG17 includes targets related to international aid and greater access to private financial resources, but also focus on investment regimes, access to technologies, non-discriminatory trade, market access, economic policy coordination and steps toward enhanced policy coherence.


Acharya, A. (2017) ‘After Liberal Hegemony: The Advent of a Multiplex Order’, Ethics and International Affairs 31(3): 271-285.
Acharya, A. (2018) The End of American World Order, 2nd ed., Cambridge: Polity Press.
Beeson, M. and Zeng, J. (2018) ‘The BRICS and Global Governance: China’s Contrdictory Role’, Third World Quarterly 39(10): 1962-1978.
Drezner, D.W. (2019) ‘Counter-Hegemonic Strategies in the Global Economy’, Security Studies 28(3): 505-531.
Duncombe, C. and Dunne, T. (2018) ‘After Liberal World Order’, International Affairs 94(1): 25-42.
Hurrell, A. (2018) ‘Beyond the BRICS: Power, Pluralism, and the Future of Global Order’, Ethics and International Affairs 32(1): 89-101.
Ikenberry, G.J. (2018) ‘The End of Liberal International Order?’, International Affairs 94(1): 7-23.
Morvaridi, B. and Hughes, C. (2018) ‘South-South Cooperation and Neoliberal Hegemony in a Post-Aid World’, Development and Change 49(3): 867-892.
Stuenkel, O. (2016) Post-Western World: How Emerging Powers are Remaking Global Order, Cambridge: Polity Press.
United Nations (2020) ‘Goal 17’, https://sdgs.un.org/goals/goal17 (accessed 1 August 2020).


Professor Wil Hout

Professor of Governance and International Political Economy

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About Politics and Governance

Politics and Governance, which is currently publishing its 8th volume, is an open-access peer-reviewed journal. The journal currently has an impact factor of 1.6 (Journal Citation Reports 2019), and it ranks 73rd among 180 journals in political science.

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