Multilateralism Past, Present and Future : A European Perspective book cover
1st Edition

Multilateralism Past, Present and Future
A European Perspective

  • Available for pre-order on May 12, 2023. Item will ship after June 2, 2023
ISBN 9781032245430
June 2, 2023 Forthcoming by Routledge
512 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book offers an important chronological perspective on the evolution of multilateralism within Europe and beyond.

It provides a critical reconstruction of the history of the idea and praxis of peaceful global governance, comparative analysis of regional multilateral organizations and a discussion about concrete trends and perspectives of a new multilateralism against the challenging context of the current multipolar power politics. Focusing on the changing European interplay with multilateralism - from Eurocentric cradle of civilian cooperation among sovereign imperial states, to political dwarf after the two WW and decolonization, and to potential co-leader of a multi-layered and multi-actor cooperation within the current multipolar order, it addresses a theoretical ‘gap’ by fuelling the long-recognised idealism v. realism debate over international cooperation and institutionalisation with both historical and new empirical insights.

This book will be of key interest to scholars and students of European studies, global governance, multilateralism, international organisations and more broadly to international relations.

Table of Contents


Part 1. The historical origins and transformation of multilateralism

Introduction: The ambivalence of state sovereignty

Chapter 1: From the Renaissance to the Westphalian European system

    1. The first multipolar and multilateral treaty: the Treaty of Lodi (1454)
    2. The genealogy of and developments in sovereignty and diplomacy within the multipolar system: European political thinking
    3. The European case from a comparative perspective
    4. The Treaty of Westphalia
    5. Institutionalising multilateral cooperation
    6. The European Concert (1814-1914): Strengths and limitations
    7. Internationalism from below: The participation of multiple and various civil society stakeholders
    8. Multilateral conferences and regimes, between functionalism and ambitions of hegemony: The first wave of civilian cooperation arrangements
    9. The global dimension of Eurocentric multilateralism and its collapse
    10. Innovating International Relations theory beyond realism

Chapter 2: The era of US-led multilateralism

    1. Building cultural leadership: W. Wilson and the League of Nations
    2. The League of Nations: Structure and policies
    3. The USA’s isolationism and the decline of the League of Nations
    4. Three lessons from the failure of the League of Nations: Coping with the challenges of economic development and decolonisation
    5. Competing with the communist international challenge
    6. Coping with fascist and authoritarian combinations of nationalism and regionalism
    7. US hegemony and F.D. Roosevelt’s universal multilateralism: The Bretton Woods and United Nations systems
    8. The controversy about regional versus global organisation
    9. The impact of the Cold War on multilateral cooperation
    10. The parabola of US hegemony. From the new frontier to the instrumentalist neoliberal use of international organisations.
    11. Conclusion. What happens after the era of US hegemony? Ambiguities surrounding Europe’s role.

Chapter 3: Theoretical Challenges

    1. The diverse process in state transformation
    2. US post realist research and multilateralism
    3. The emergence of various Chinese International Relations theories
    4. Controversies on the theory of hegemony
    5. Innovations in European critical thinking


Part 2: Regionalism and interregionalism as forms of multilateralism. Between hegemony, cooperation and fragmentation

Introduction: The emergence of and developments in regional and interregional cooperation

Chapter 4: Contribution to a historical interpretation: Three types of regionalism in the history of the twentieth century

    1. Authoritarian and hierarchical regionalism in the 1930s and 1940s. Regionalism at the crossroads between free trade, protectionism and ideational drivers.
    2. Regionalism during the time of US hegemony.
    3. The new regionalist era.
    4. Conclusion: Is a fourth framework emerging for regionalism in the 21st century?

Chapter 5: Introduction to a synchronic analysis of regional cooperation: The evolving external and internal variables

Chapter 6: Synchronic analysis of regional cooperation: the Americas

    1. An unprecedented crisis in regional cooperation: Structural and conjunctural dimensions
    2. Diverging ideational roots of hemispheric and South American regionalism
    3. The golden age of Latin American regional organisation
    4. NAFTA as a workshop for US foreign trade policy, between bilateralism, regionalism and interregional globalism: The failure of FTAA and the shift towards CUSMA transactional regionalism
    5. Conclusion: The uncertain future of regional American cooperation

Chapter 7: Regional cooperation in Africa

    1. Origins and developments of African regionalism
    2. African regionalism from the OAU to the AU: A long term view
    3. Between regional economic cooperation, leadership and securitisation: The examples of SADC, ECOWAS and NEPAD
    4. Conclusions: Alternative regionalism and universalisation of regional law

Chapter 8: Regional cooperation in Asia

    1. Introduction
    2. The ‘ASEAN way’ distinctive path in the Asia-Pacific area
    3. Comparing the dynamics of ASEAN with other regional organisations: The counterexample of SAARC
    4. The historical consolidation of ASEAN and its international relevance
    5. A challenged regional architecture of concentric circles
    6. Conclusion

Chapter 9: Authoritarian regionalism

    1. The Eurasian Economic Community and the EEU
    2. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)
    3. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)
    4. The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA)
    5. Conclusion

Chapter 10: Interregional relations

    1. Introduction. Conceptualising interregionalism
    2. EU interregionalism
      1. EU interregionalism: Africa
      2. EU interregionalism: The Mediterranean
      3. The EU’s interregional relations with North America
      4. EU interregionalism: East Asia
      5. EU interregionalism: Latin America (Central and South America)

    3. US-led interregionalism
    4. China’s interregional relations


Part 3: Multilateralism at stake from the 20th to the 21st century and the

EU perspective.

Introduction: The war in Ukraine and the global scenarios

Chapter 11: Multilayered governance is not just a descriptive concept.

    1. Three reasons for an enhanced regional role in global governance
    2. Changing global governance without treaty revision

Chapter 12: Europe as a revived neo-multilateral reference? Background, crises and prospects for evolution

    1. The Community method and the acquis communautaire
    2. New challenges and the populist wave
    3. 2019-2022: EU resilience and potential historical changes
    4. A multidimensional defensive and offensive agenda
    5. The EU as a fledgling form of multilateralist civilian and geopolitical power: defence policy and global actorness
    6. Enhancing the EU’s capacity to act via differentiated integration

Chapter 13: A less contingent legitimacy with regard to the multilateral system

    1. From output to input legitimacy?
    2. Reforming policy making and multilateral institutions via enhanced legitimacy
    3. Gender equality as a way to improve the quality of legitimacy

Chapter 14: The open controversies about more binding forms of governance as features of a new form of multilateralism

    1. The challenge of development
    2. Peace and security: UN Charter Chapter VII
      1. The nuclear challenge beyond the Leviathan
      2. The non-proliferation regimes

    3. Humanitarian intervention and the responsibility to protect
    4. The ups and downs of the climate change negotiations
    5. The Bretton Woods institutions and their evolution
    6. The WTO and trade governance
    7. Digital governance: An increasingly central issue
    8. The WHO and the fight against pandemics

Conclusions: Alternative scenarios: International anarchy or a stronger form of multilateralism. The role of diffuse reciprocity and intercultural dialogue.

Conclusions: Between realism and cosmopolitanism: The EU perspective.

    1. Collective leadership beyond the Westphalian paradigm
    2. Republican and transnational legitimacy
    3. Multilateralism A and B
    4. The EU as an upgrading civilian and geopolitical power for a new form of multilateralism



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Mario Telò is Jean Monnet Chair of International Relations at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium, and Rome’s LUISS, and a member of the Royal Academy of Sciences, Brussels. He is a European and world citizen. He was professor in many European, East Asian and American universities and led relevant global research networks on behalf, and as emeritus President, of the Institute European studies (IEE), ULB. Author of numerous books on EU and multilateralism he is currently member of the Royal Academy of Sciences, Brussels.


"Mario Telò has moved the boundaries of comparative regionalism significantly from its Eurocentric foundation, and through his global network of scholars, challenged traditional views and proposed new ideas and methods to study regional and global governance. This outstanding book captures the depth and breadth of his exceptional scholarship and would be welcomed by scholars and policymakers around the world."

Prof. Amitav Acharya, American University, Washington DC, Emeritus ISA President, USA


"This book is an extraordinary achievement. The range and the erudition is breathtaking. Telò’s ability to cover both the history of international relations of the last few hundred years bringing out the tension between national sovereignty and international cooperation in European political thought and practice, combined with a detailed comparative analysis of regional, interregional, global and multilateral forms of cooperation, and a prospectus for the future of the international system is very impressive. the rise of authoritarian states, the internal threats to the democracies, and the major challenges of avoiding nuclear confrontation and dealing with climate change".

Andrew Gamble, Professor of International Relations, Sheffield and Cambridge University, UK


"By this book, Mario Telò recognizes the need to change some long-followed practices. His thesis is that for multilateral cooperation to survive, Europe needs to become also a military power without losing the values of a civilian power that have made it such a force for multilateralism and attempts to solve pressing transnational problems such as climate change. Becoming a military power implies difficult geopolitical choices and tradeoffs, a tougher life than purely civilian multilateralism." 

Prof. R.O.Keohane, Emeritus professor of International Relations, Princeton and emeritus APSA president, USA

"Peace or war? This latest book by Mario Telò on the "European perspective" makes clear that the status quo is not an option in this dangerous world: developing the EU’s strategic autonomy; working for enhanced and pluralist participation of regional organisations in global governance and ensuring a more efficient and legitimate form of multilateral cooperation are the urgent alternatives to the dark scenario of growing conflict and war supported by Russia. For these reasons, this book is an outstanding contribution for all citizens who fight everywhere for a sustainable peace."

Joseh Borrell Fontelles, High Representative for the EU for foreign affairs and security policy and Vice-President of the European Commission