Can governments and societies build a new global consensus around their shared interests in promoting conflict prevention, carbon reduction and financial stability? How can this consensus encompass the multiple levels of governance and civil society that now combine to constitute world order and disorder?



Fernando Henrique Cardoso

Founder, Fernando Henrique Cardoso Foundation


Fernando Cardoso was the 34th President of Brazil and served for two terms from 1 January 1995 to 1 January 2003. He is a sociologist and author of a number of books on social change and development in Brazil and Latin America. He is currently president of the Instituto Fernando Henrique Cardoso in São Paulo, chair of the Global Commission on Drug Policy and honorary president of the Party of the Brazilian Social Democracy (PSDB). He is also co-president of the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy (since 2008, president of the Independent Commission on Aids and the Law, and member of the council of Global Leaders for the Reproductive Health. He was born in Rio de Janeiro and has three children.
Robin Niblett

Dr Robin Niblett CMG

Director, Chatham House


Robin Niblett became the director of Chatham House in January 2007.Before joining Chatham House, between 2001 and 2006, he was the executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS).During his last two years at CSIS, he also served as director of the CSIS Europe Program and its Initiative for a Renewed Transatlantic Partnership.He is a frequent panellist at conferences and events around the world and has testified on a number of occasions to the House of Commons Defence Select Committee and Foreign Affairs Committee, as well as US Senate and House of Representatives Committees on European Affairs.He received his BA, MPhil and DPhil from New College, Oxford.Download Robin's full biography (PDF)

Anders Fogh Rasmussen

Founder and Chairman, Rasmussen Global; Secretary General, NATO (2009-2014); Prime Minister of Denmark (2001-2009)


Anders Fogh Rasmussen is a former Secretary General of NATO and former Prime Minister of Denmark. During the 1980s, he served as deputy chairman of the Danish Liberal Party and Minister of Taxation. He was promoted to Minister of Economic Affairs in 1990 and was Denmark’s signatory to the Maastricht Treaty, which led to the single currency. He played a key role in membership accession talks in 2002 during the Danish presidency of the EU and firmly believes the enlargements of the EU and NATO have contributed to peace, progress and prosperity in Europe. As Secretary General of NATO he oversaw six operations on three continents, including Afghanistan, Kosovo and Libya. He also launched ‘Smart Defence’ to help nations make more efficient use of resources through multinational cooperation. He has an MSc in Economics.
Kevin Rudd

Kevin Rudd

Senior Adviser, Chatham House; Prime Minister of Australia (2007-10, 2013); Minister for Foreign Affairs, Australia (2010-12)


Kevin Rudd served as Australia’s 26th Prime Minister (2007 to 2010, 2013) and as Foreign Minister (2010 to 2012).He led Australia’s response during the global financial crisis - the only major developed economy not to go into recession - and helped found the G20.As Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Mr. Rudd was active in global and regional foreign policy leadership. He was a driving force in expanding the East Asia Summit (EAS) to include both the U.S. and Russia in 2010.He also initiated the concept of transforming the EAS into a wider Asia-Pacific community to help manage deep-rooted tensions in Asia by building over time the institutions and culture of common security in Asia.He served as Chair of the Independent Commission on Multilateralism, a two-year review of the UN system, releasing his Chair’s Report (UN 2030: Rebuilding Order in a Fragmenting World) in August 2016.In 2014, Mr. Rudd was a Senior Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School where he completed a major policy paper U.S.-China 21: The Future of U.S.-China Relations Under Xi Jinping.Mr. Rudd joined the Asia Society Policy Institute as its inaugural President in January 2015.He is a Distinguished Statesman with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, and a Distinguished Fellow at the Paulson Institute in Chicago.Mr. Rudd is a member of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization’s Group of Eminent Persons. He is proficient in Mandarin Chinese and serves as a Visiting Professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing, and he co-chairs the World Economic Forum’s China Council.Mr. Rudd is proficient in Mandarin Chinese and is a Visiting Professor at Tsinghua University. He co-authored a report of the United Nations Secretary-General's High Level Panel on Global Sustainability and chairs the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Fragile States.He also remains actively engaged in indigenous reconciliation in Australia.

Dr Vaira Vike-Freiberga

President, World Leadership Alliance Club of Madrid; President of the Republic of Latvia (1999-2007)


Dr Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga is President of the Club de Madrid and the former President of Latvia (1999–2007). She was instrumental in achieving EU and NATO membership for Latvia and was Special Envoy on UN reform. She was Vice-Chair of the Reflection Group on the long-term future of Europe, and chaired the high-level group on freedom and pluralism of media in the EU in 2011–12. She is currently a member of two high-level groups on European security and defence.Born in Riga, she started her schooling in refugee camps in Germany, and then lived in Morocco and Canada, obtaining a PhD at McGill University. After a distinguished career as Professor of psychology at the University of Montreal, she returned to her native country in 1998 to head the Latvian Institute. She a member of 31 international organizations, has published extensively and is much in demand as speaker.

Video highlight


'This post-war, rules-based system of ours cannot be assumed to have a long-term future. It is not naturally self-sustaining. In history, orders are not naturally self-sustaining.' 

Kevin Rudd, President, Asia Society Policy Institute; Prime Minister of Australia (2013; 2007–10)

'We need the United Nations as a guarantor of international law and rights. But it needs more capability to make decisions.'

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Founder and Chairman, Rasmussen Global; Secretary General, NATO (2009-14); Prime Minister of Denmark (2001-09)

Key discussion points

The UN system is running out of time to reform. Central structures like the Security Council grow more anachronistic by the year, and the inability to reform key pillars could eventually undermine the organization as a whole. Decision-making effectiveness varies from agency to agency. As organizations like the WHO struggle with their mandates, their ability to implement decisions depends heavily on NGOs and other non-state actors, making global governance uneven.

The UN system fails as a security provider. Similar to its reliance on NGOs in other areas, the UN remains too reliant on regional security organizations like NATO. The disjunction between the two organizations, such as over the interpretation of the mandate for the Libya intervention in 2011, can do more harm than good for the UN's legitimacy. The UN is no longer in a position to take decisive action to maintain peace and justice as it did in Cambodia and the former Yugoslavia. This suggests that the whole concept of responsibility to protect is disintegrating. The situation in Syria further highlights the lack of a functioning international security order.

Liberal democracy cannot be taken for granted. After a long period of growth for democracy around the world following the end of the Cold War, there has been a decline in overall freedom around the world over the past decade, as measured by Freedom House. Moreover, liberal democracy's association with the current global order means the weakening of international institutions can undermine both. The UN may need a 'democratic caucus' to support democracy.

Dialogue remains essential. Despite rising tensions, Russia and the West still face the shared challenges of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. They were able to work together effectively to control chemical weapons in Syria; they can do more together. It is therefore important to keep Russia at the table, for example in the Council of Europe. Dialogue alone will not solve problems, but the fora must be kept open, and the UN is part of the framework that instils the habit of dialogue between states.

A global retreat by the US would be immensely damaging to world order. A series of poor foreign policy decisions has weakened the US on the world stage, and America's domestic politics still flirt with isolationism. But for all the talk of multilateralism, the post-war order continues to be underpinned by American power. A significant reduction in America's global role would introduce a void that is not easily filled.

Global governance is not self-sustaining. The tendency of the international system remains towards entropy and anarchy. An established, relatively long-running global order is an historical anomaly is not self-sustaining unless nation-states make it so. If national governments, which retain the ultimate decision making power, do not take the important and difficult decisions to renew the global system, global order could suffer 'death by a thousand cuts'.

Session video