The rise of new centers of powers and pressures generated by globalization have brought forth the need to understand peaceful change an urgent necessity. Nations spend tremendous energy and resources on military security through the acquisition and use of arms. The attention devoted to security through peaceful means and peaceful change is minimal. For instance, we have limited understanding of the conditions under which a rising power like China be accommodated as a global power without war. We also have limited understanding of how and when regions transform into peaceful orders or the reverse happens. As scholars with an interest in peaceful change, we are making important research contributions, but most of our works remain in our specialized domains. This research network is a loosely organized group of scholars and institutions worldwide who are engaged in the study of peaceful change at the international and regional levels. It will make new initiatives and linkup existing projects so as to publicize them and bring them together in a platform freely accessible to all.
A special panel on the subject was held at the International Studies Association (ISA) conference in Toronto in March 2019 when the network was inaugurated. Some 25 scholars attended this inaugural meeting. Please see the list.
Two types of partnerships are possible: 1. Institutional; and 2. Individual scholars who work in this area. We will publicize new research projects that emerge from this network members jointly and individually.
In June 2019 GRENPEC launched a major research initiative with the signing of a contract for the Handbook on Peaceful Change in International Relations with Oxford University Press. The OUP Handbook is aimed at exploring and consolidating work on the subject matter of peaceful change, cutting across themes, theories and regions. The Handbook, now under preparation, will have some 46 chapters written by 50 plus scholars, selected from different parts of the world and theoretical persuasions. They offer a diverse set of ideas on peaceful change or its opposite, violent change. Initially, the papers will be published by OUP Online. The final print edition will be published in the Fall of 2021.
The Handbook will have five sections:
- Historical Perspectives
- Theoretical Perspectives
- The Sources of Change
- Great Powers, Rising Powers and Peaceful Change
- Regional Perspectives
The first project is already accomplished with the publication of a special issue of International Studies Review in June 2018. Nineteen papers presented at the International Studies Association (ISA) 2017 Baltimore Conference on the theme “Understanding Change in World Politics,” are in the special presidential issue and seven of them directly deal with the topic of peaceful change.
“The rise of the rest,” especially China, has triggered an inevitable transformation of the so-called liberal international order. Rising powers, like China and other BRICS countries, started to challenge and push for reform of existing institutions like the IMF or create new ones, such as the AIIB. The United States, under the Trump Administration, on the other hand, begun to retreat from the international institutions that it once led or created, such as the TPP, the Paris Climate Accord as well as the Iran nuclear deal. It is also currently attempting to dismantle the WTO and trade regime built around it. Challenging power transition theory that predicts military conflicts or the so-called “Thucydides trap” between the ruling hegemon and rising powers, we argue that despite attempts to scuttle, peaceful institutional competition and transformation are becoming central features of international order transition. Consequently, this project focuses on the sources, mechanisms, and processes of possible peaceful change of international institutions and by international institutions in the current and future international order. Leading scholars in the International Relations field will offer diverse theoretical and empirical perspectives on the mechanisms of peaceful change and international institutions, focusing both on theoretical innovation and bridging the gap between the theory and practice of power transition. A special journal issue and an edited volume are planned.
Organizer: Kai He, Griffith University
Great power rivalries are once again at the forefront of international politics, although taking a different form than we witnessed during the Cold War. Following a period of nearly two decades of peace after the collapse of the Soviet Union, what we are witnessing today is a curious resurgence of great power competition in both old and new domains. This include competition in the world’s key regions. These interactions have generated changed dynamics in regional orders in recent years as rivalry becomes the dominant mode of interaction among great powers. Regional states have made use of the opportunities provided by the new great power rivalry to further their security and economic interests. How different are today’s rivalries from the Cold war era when the US-Soviet rivalry defined the contours of many regional conflicts? When the Cold War ended some regional conflicts were settled (e.g. Cambodia, Nicaragua, Southern Africa), while others persisted (Israel-Palestine, South Asia and the Korean Peninsula), showing that systemic forces are only one critical variable that determine conflict and cooperation in the regions. These variations need an assessment on their own merit now that we have the luxury of perspective on both Cold War rivalries and can perceive the contours us new ones. The current great power order is characterized by economically interdependent rising China, using economic, technological and military instruments to gain ascendency, and a declining Russia attempting to shape regional and global orders using the formidable military and diplomatic capacity Moscow retains. The US efforts to restrict China’s goal of achieving hegemony by 2050, especially through the Belt and Road Initiative, asymmetrical technological superiority and militarization of the South China Sea, are generating conflict, but of a different type than we saw during the Cold War. Is the scholarship on systemic/regional interactions, mainly developed during the Cold War era sufficient to understand the new dynamics? What does the past tell us of the present and the future? What new tools we need to explain patterns of regional orders and the impact of systemic rivalries on these orders and vice versa?
Organizers: Harold Trinkunas (Stanford University) and T.V. Paul (McGill University)