Not too long ago, I published “Unipolar Disorder: A European Perspective on U.S. Security Strategy,” part of a roundtable published in the Hastings Journal of International & Comparative Law. Prompting it was the 2002 National Security Strategy in which President George W. Bush declared, as I paraphrased it, “that the United States would strike first to prevent attack even before an enemy possessed the capability to attack – a point in time much earlier than when tradition would have condoned an attack of anticipatory self-defense.” Analyzing this claim “from a European perspective, one that prefers pluralist dialogue to paternalist debate,” I contrasted the United States’ post-Cold War unipolarity with a concept of multipolarity then au courant in France:
‘A multipolar world entails a balance of power, but one quite unlike that of the Cold War. Multipolarity imports what might be termed a morality of comparative advantage. By this notion, all states exist in a globalized and interdependent world. No state is entirely self-sufficient. Each state has weaknesses and strengths. Thus it is best that states work together toward the best common advantage.’
My description concluded with a quote from then-President Jacques Chirac, who said of multipolarity:
‘Ce n’est pas du wishful.’
The upcoming annual meeting of the American Society of International Law will address “International Law in a Multipolar World,” a theme that brings these ideas and others to the fore. The program promises explorations of the theme as it relates to many regions of the world – not only the Americas, but also Asia, Europe, and Africa – and to many subfields of international law – climate change, the Internet, private and public law. Notably, a number of speakers haven’t appeared at recent Society meetings. To name a few: Professor Alain Pellet, Université de Paris X-Nanterre, will be interviewed by younger European scholars, while Tsinghua Law Professor Bing Bing Jia, who welcomed me to lecture in Beijing last summer, will take part in a panel on China & International Law. Judge Xue Hanqin of the International Court of Justice will join Hudson Medalist Bruno Simma and others for the meeting’s closing plenary session. Yours truly has the honor of keynoting the Women in International Law Interest Group luncheon; a serving of multipolarity will be on the table.
The ASIL annual meeting runs April 3-6, 2013, in Washington, D.C. Details and registration here; early-bird discounts end this Friday, February 15.