Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Turning Point

Ana Palacio

Can the World Bank, IMF, and UN Security Council be remade to reflect the shift of global economic power to emerging markets? Have the European Union’s problems discredited regionalism and revived nationalism? How should populists be politically contained? Are open economies compatible with political Islam?

Whenever the international system’s leading powers change, global turmoil invariably follows. But history offers little guidance for such moments, especially today, when so many players – new powers like Brazil, China, and India, and regional powers like Nigeria, Indonesia, Turkey, South Africa, and Iran – are flexing their muscles at the same time. Moreover, for the first time in decades, America’s longstanding global leadership is in doubt almost everywhere.

All of this has made international relations more complex – and more combustible – than ever. Indeed, today’s leaders are obliged to act in the face of unprecedented transparency and instantaneous communication, which influences the substance, methods, and even the purpose of international diplomacy.

Few understand these challenges better than Ana Palacio. The first woman to serve as Spain’s foreign minister, she helped to craft the treaties governing the expanded European Union. And, as Senior Vice-President and General Counsel of the World Bank at a time when it was forging a new activist role in developing countries, she designed innovative ways to strengthen foreign-investment protection and national investment laws. Dubbed “Europe’s Lawyer” by The Wall Street Journal,she was Executive President of the Academy of European Law, and is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council.

Business and political leaders around the world seek Ana Palacio’s insights into the intersection of diplomacy, commerce, and law. Every month in The Turning Point, written exclusively for Project Syndicate, she distills the essential issues shaping an increasingly turbulent world.

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