While the demand for international cooperation on specific issues from climate change to internet governance is growing, so far no single country, group of countries, region or idea has shown itself capable of leading the way to new forms of global order. Should countries adjust to a leaderless world mitigated by ad hoc cooperation, keep trying to redesign existing institutions or design new ones?



Heba Al-Nasser

Heba AlNasser

Academy Associate


Heba AlNasser was an Academy Asfari Fellow at Chatham House in 2014–15. Following the completion of her fellowship in December 2015, she joined the British Council in Oman in the role of deputy director of its Next Generation Gulf programme.Heba is a Fulbright and a Chevening scholar and holds an MSc in social policy and development (non-governmental organizations) from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Heba specializes in evaluating community development projects both internationally and in the MENA region – with a particular focus on assessing policy impact.Before joining Chatham House, Heba worked for a number of national and international NGOs – most notably for the Noor Al Hussein Foundation, where she ran the foundation’s Monitoring and Evaluation Unit for a range of development projects such as poverty alleviation, women and youth empowerment, and business development. She is also a certified dialogue education practitioner with Global Learning Partners and a freelance evaluation consultant.

Zeinab Badawi

Presenter, World News Today, BBC


Zeinab Badawi is a broadcast journalist and presenter of the BBC’s World News Today, with extensive experience in television and radio. She presents the BBC’s The World Debate and the Intelligence Squared Debates, and produces and presents programmes through her own production company, including The General History of Africa in video in partnership with UNESCO. She was born in Sudan, where her father was prominent in pre-independence politics, and moved to the UK when she was two. She is Chair of the Royal African Society, Vice-President of the United Nations Association UK, and on the board of the African Union Foundation. She is a former trustee of the National Portrait Gallery, a former Chair of the human rights group, Article 19, and a board member of the Overseas Development Institute. She graduated in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford University and has a master’s in Middle East History and Anthropology from the University of London. 

Børge Brende

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Norway


Børge Brende is the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Norway. He was previously Minister of the Environment (2001–04) and Minister of Trade and Industry (2004–05). He was Deputy Chair of the Conservative Party (Høyre) from 1994 to 1998. He was appointed Managing Director of the World Economic Forum in Geneva in 2008 and 2011, serving as Secretary General of Red Cross Norway in between, from 2009 to 2011. He chaired the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (2003–04) and was a member of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (an advisory body to the Chinese government) from 2005 to 2013. He has also been Chair of the board in Mesta, Norway’s largest onshore contracting group, and a member of the board of Statoil. He has a degree in economics, law and history from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim.

Sergey Karaganov

Dean, Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, National Research University Higher School of Economics; Foreign policy adviser to the Presidential Administration, Russia (2001–13)


Sergey A Karaganov is Dean of the School of World Economy and International Affairs of the National Research University Higher School of Economics in Moscow, and was a Russian presidential adviser on foreign policy from 2001 to 2013. He is Honorary Chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defence Policy, which he helped found in 1992. In 2014 he was appointed to the OSCE’s high-level Panel of Eminent Persons on European Security as a Common Project.He has been a member of the Academic Council of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 1991, and a member of the Academic and Advisory Council of the Russian Security Council since 1993. He has written more than 20 books on the international economy and Russia’s foreign and security policy.

Joseph S Nye

University Distinguished Service Professor, Harvard Kennedy School of Government


Joseph S Nye Jr is University Distinguished Service Professor and former Dean of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He has served as the US Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, Chair of the US National Intelligence Council. Recent books include: The Powers to Lead, The Future of Power, and Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the British Academy, and the American Academy of Diplomacy. In a recent survey of international relations scholars, he was ranked as the most influential scholar on American foreign policy, and in 2011, Foreign Policy magazine named him one of the top 100 Global Thinkers. In 2014, Japan awarded him the Order of the Rising Sun. He graduated from Princeton University, won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford, and has a PhD in Political Science from Harvard.

Wu Xinbo

Director, Center for American Studies and Executive Dean, Institute of International Studies, Fudan University


Dr Wu Xinbo is Professor and Executive Dean of the Institute of International Studies, and Director at the Centre for American Studies, at Fudan University in Shanghai. He teaches and researches China’s foreign and security policy, Sino-US relations, and US Asia-Pacific policy. He was Vice-Chair (2012–13) and Chair (2013–14) of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Geopolitical Risk, and is currently on the Global Agenda Council on Geo-economics. Professor Wu’s books include Dollar Diplomacy and Major Powers in China, 1909-1913 (1997), Turbulent Water: US Asia-Pacific Security Strategy in the post-Cold War Era (2006), and New Landscape in Sino-US Relations in the early 21st Century (2011), and he is on the editorial board of The Washington Quarterly (published by the US Center for Strategic and International Studies). He has a BA in History and a PhD in International Relations from Fudan University

Video highlight


‘Don’t count the Americans out yet.’

Joseph S Nye, University Distinguished Service Professor, Harvard Kennedy School of Government

‘China is trying to learn from the failures of the US.’

Dr WU Xinbo, Director, Center for American Studies, and Executive Dean, Institute of International Studies, Fudan University


Key discussion points

The global role of the United States is in flux. The world’s leading superpower is struggling to come to terms with the rise of China and other sources of global leadership, and its domestic political deadlock has hampered its long-term strategic planning. At the same time, the US still plays a leading and essential role in international crises, such as the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, the humanitarian crisis in Nepal after the earthquake earlier this year, and negotiations over Iran’s nuclear programme. While it remains the strongest power, it cannot accomplish its objectives unilaterally.

The enduring lesson of the financial crisis is that global cooperation is possible. The formation of the G20, the development of what was then a very unorthodox fiscal and monetary policy and China’s contribution to world economic stimulus with $600 billion dollars show that bold and inclusive decisions can be taken. This kind of cooperation and the revival of the ‘multilateral system’ could help tackle the other structural challenges of climate change and extremism.

But there is not full consensus on multilateralism as a way forward. Russia in particular views the world from more state-based and geopolitical perspective, and the possible emergence of different international groupings – such as a US-led grouping based around TTIP/TPP and a ‘Greater Eurasia’ of led by Russia, China, India and Iran – could see more multipolarity without necessarily greater international cooperation.

As a rising power, China must not free-ride on global public goods as the United States did in the 1920s and 1930s. Global public goods, such as monetary stability, reversing the effects of climate change, nuclear non-proliferation and fighting against global pandemics, continue to be under produced. China is already beginning to contribute in helping to stabilize Afghanistan and in worldwide infrastructure development, and has an opportunity to learn from US mistakes – but it will continue to balance provision of public goods with its own national interest. In addition, issues considered public goods by some states, such as human rights and anti-corruption, do not have international consensus.

China is becoming more assertive militarily, but would still not consider US-style interventions. In addition to heightened development of potential military assets in the South China Sea, a new counter-terrorism law, the presence of soldiers in South Sudan and talk of a military base in Djibouti point to a broadening of China’s use of military power. But it, for the moment, continues to exercise ‘strategic prudence’ and would be unlikely to embark on broader operations.

Attempts at excluding China from international organizations are doomed to backfire. The formation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank highlights that if China believes itself to be excluded, it will simply create its own ‘playing-field’. 

Session video