Tilting World Order

With this project, the WRR (Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy) seeks to address current geopolitical shifts. By doing so, the WRR aims to inform future foreign policy and decision-making on the positioning of the Netherlands in a world that is less stable and less predictable than the one  to which we have become accustomed.

The current world is characterized by significant uncertainty, profound transitions, interstate violence and multipolarisation – which here is understood as the factual increase in the number of influential countries or regions. Various centres of power are pursuing fundamental changes in the international economic and political order and testing geopolitical instruments to bring about new dependencies. Energy, mineral inputs and food, but also cyber security, alternative narratives and explicit disinformation are illustrative examples of new means of power projection that are gaining in prominence and as such are part of the geopolitical reality. Adopting these mechanisms of power as its vantage, the WRR examines geopolitical developments and their significance for the position of the Netherlands in the world. How do they affect our connection with the European Union, with international organizations and other countries? How can the Dutch government best position and organize itself in a world of increasing geopolitical rivalry?

The central tension in current geopolitical relations is that between the United States and China, the economically and militarily dominant players in today's world. For the Netherlands and Europe, the claim which this tension places on the allocation of resources implies that the American security guarantee in the international system becomes less of a given. Additionally, the conciliating role of existing (Western) post-war institutions such as the WTO, the Council of Europe, and the UN is weakening, giving rise to alternative alliances. Even so, treaties that are inherently linked to these organizations guide the foreign policy and international positioning of the Netherlands and the EU.

The new geopolitical rivalry manifests itself in numerous ways and already has direct and indirect effects on Dutch society. The coming years will undoubtedly see further changes in global relations, and these will continue to have implications both within the Netherlands and for its international position. With this project, the WRR aims to contribute to the necessary strategic preparation for this tilting world order.