Multipolarity and the Future of Multilateralism: Towards ‘Thick’ Peacekeeping in the Donbas Conflict

Multipolarity and the Future of Multilateralism: Towards ‘Thick’ Peacekeeping in the Donbas Conflict

This article contributes to research on the relationship between multipolarity and multilateralism. One aim of this article is to consider the role of multilateralism in the age of multipolarity by investigating Russia’s approach to multilateralism, especially in the context of the Donbas conflict. Russia has been a staunch supporter of a polycentric world order. Thus, an analysis of its attitude towards multilateralism provides insights into the role of multilateralism in the emerging multipolar world. It will be argued that, while convergence of interests and equal participation of states cannot be assumed in the age of multipolarity, multilateralism can still facilitate policy coordination among states, including rising powers, and provide legitimacy to their policy decisions. Another aim is to explore what peacekeeping – an international practice reflective of multilateralism – can deliver in the multipolarising world. This article examines recent debates over the deployment of a peacekeeping mission to eastern Ukraine and argues that peacekeeping can not only help achieve security policy coordination among states, including rising powers, but also help create a common diplomatic culture and hence a sense of we‐feeling among them, which may in turn develop into an inclusive regional security framework.

Policy Implications

  • Multilateralism is likely to endure in the age of multipolarity because few issues are amenable to unilateral or bilateral solutions in this age of global interconnectedness and rising powers find value in multilateralism’s facilitation of policy coordination among states. However, rising powers seeking greater autonomy in their foreign policies and attaching great importance to the role of great power management in international society might prefer a more exclusive form of multilateralism at the expense of the principle of equal participation of states.
  • Multilateralism helps create we‐feeling among states, including rising powers, thereby exerting behavioural and constitutive effects on them.
  • Peacekeeping is an international practice reflective of multilateralism, and, as such, it not only provides a multilateral way of achieving security policy coordination among states, including rising powers, but may also serve as a basis for fostering a sense of we‐feeling among them by providing opportunities to cultivate a common diplomatic culture conducive to the emergence of such we‐feeling.
  • A UN‐led peacekeeping mission that includes troops from both the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) countries participating in their national capacity is required to build a sense of we‐feeling between the West and Russia. Such a ‘thick’ peacekeeping mission could serve as a starting point to develop a Europe‐wide security framework based on NATO‐CSTO cooperation.

 

 

Image: Andrew Kuznetsov via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)