Competitive multilateralism

Adapting institutions to meet the new geopolitical environment

A United Nations logo is seen on a glass door in the Assembly Building at the United Nations headquarters in New York City September 18, 2015. As leaders from almost 200 nations gather for the annual general assembly at the United Nations, the world body created 70 years ago, Reuters photographer Mike Segar documented quieter moments at the famed 18-acre headquarters on Manhattan's East Side. The U.N., established as the successor to the failed League of Nations after World War Two to prevent a similar conflict from occurring again, attracts more than a million visitors every year to its iconic New York site. The marathon of speeches and meetings this year will address issues from the migrant crisis in Europe to climate change and the fight against terrorism. REUTERS/Mike SegarPICTURE 13 OF 30 FOR WIDER IMAGE STORY "INSIDE THE UNITED NATIONS HEADQUARTERS"SEARCH "INSIDE UN" FOR ALL IMAGES  - GF10000219225

As the world shifts into a period of renewed geopolitical competition, the multilateral order is straining to adapt. Both governments and the institutions that serve them recognize that circumstances are changing, and that multilateralism must change too — but so far, they have not agreed on a way forward. Anticipating the 75th anniversary of the forging of the United Nations, the Foreign Policy program at Brookings is examining the dynamics that increasingly define the future of multilateral order. Our objective is to help key governments chart a path both for themselves and for the major international institutions that balances adapting to the realities of great-power politics with preserving the current system’s capacity to mobilize collective action and protect (albeit imperfectly) vital core values.