16 June 2017
In search of a Sustainable International Order and Viable Regional Orders. Some preliminary considerations

International Seminar organized by the Chair of Applied Geopolitics

Working languages: French and English

Michel Foucher (Geographer, former ambassador, Professor of Applied Geography at the College of World Studies, FMSH, Paris)

Seminar organized with Radio France Internationale in EHESS, 105 boulevard Raspail, 75006 Paris, Amphithéâtre François Furet.


The international system is in transition, as demonstrated by the wide-ranging terminology currently used to describe it (unpredictability and uncertainty, disorder and chaos, surprises and muddled strategy, an unintelligible world). The same is true for the geometry of the world: is it bipolar, unipolar, multipolar or non-polar?

The international system is multi-layered in terms of strategy, each layer a set of regional equations, each with its own long-term objectives (particularly when it features a religious dimension, as in the Middle East).

This realisation that the global geopolitical system was in a state of flux struck long before the U.S. presidential elections. Did American voters seal the fate of the Pax Americana which assisted the spread of globalisation and the rise of emerging economies, foremost among them China?

One thing we can all agree on for starters is that (Western) power is relative. This is due to the emergence of states promoting purely Westphalian policies, and to the greater role civil society (public opinions, NGOs, businesses) now plays in international relations.

The increased number of regional conflicts (75 at the latest count by the International Crisis Group in 2017) highlights the limited impact of diplomatic and military interventions conducted by international powers and organisations. There is hope that new regional powers will bring about stability and establish regional orders, but the conflicts overlap to such a degree and the civil wars are so internationalised (Africa, Middle East) that even regional powers are unable to impose their solutions.

There are three ways to establish order: peace through balance of power, peace through empire, and peace through the rule of law.

The first method refers back to Metternich and the Concert of Europe. Is an Eastern Concert (Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel) imaginable if the United States really does disengage for a long period? “Peace through a balance of power is complicated by the fact that it is generally a global balance of power that rests on imbalances, each with its own dynamics, making it difficult to come to a global division or agreement” (Pierre Hassner): divergent interests and mutual antagonism are obstacles to a concert of regional and more global powers.

Peace through force, based on Bismarckian Realpolitik, comes up against the resilience of armed political and ideological movements (from Congo to Syria and Yemen to Afghanistan, the “graveyard of empires”) and resurgent nationalism in a “neo-national” world 1.

Peace through the rule of law is undermined by circumventions of the rules (disregard for borders, breaches of the law of war) and waning multilateralism, at a time when the power of individual states is declining. Every international system features one “high-tension relationship” (Arnold Wolfers), and the number of tense relationships has risen in 2017. The actors who are involved on several fronts appear unwilling to compromise, even though this is the basis of any viable agreement.


During this international seminar we shall first examine the theoretical underpinnings of the international and regional order, old and new, and analyse the major international actors (Europe, Middle East, Asia, Africa and Latin America) before asking ourselves: Where should we begin?

One of the hypotheses that seminar participants will need to debate is whether it is necessary first to construct regional arrangements in high-tension areas before rebuilding – in order to rebuild – an international order that is not on the agenda in terms of peace and security, according to the French political scientist Pierre Hassner 2.



1 Vers un monde néo-national ? Dialogues entre Bertrand Badie et Michel Foucher organisés par Gaïdz Minassian (CNRS éditions, May 2017).

2 Pierre Hassner, Feu (sur) l’ordre international ? Revue Esprit, August/September 2014.




9-9:15 Opening: Olivier Bouin, Director of the College of World Studies and French Network of Institutes for Advanced Study, Paris


9:15-9:30 Introduction: Michel Foucher, former Ambassador, Chair of Applied Geopolitics, College of World Studies, Paris


9:30-11:00 Round Table 1: The Old and the Modern

Chair: Michel Foucher

Metternich and invention of a European concert

Luigi Migliorini, Professor at Oriental University, Naples

Kissinger versus Brzezinski and after

Justin Vaïsse, Director of the Policy Planning Staff of the French Foreign Ministry, Paris

China in the International Order

Wang Jisi, President, the Institute of International and Strategic Studies, Peking University

Is there an American view of the international order in 2017?

Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer, Director of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, Paris


11:15-12:45 Round Table 2: Which regional order in Europe?

Chair: Luigi Migliorini

Russia and Europe

Andrei Kortunov, Russian International Affairs Council, Moscow

European order viewed from Berlin

Hans Maull, Executive Council, Stiftung fur Wissenschatf und Politik, Berlin

European order, a British Perspective

Ian Bond, Ambassador, Director of Foreign Policy, Centre for European Reform, London


14:00-15:00 Round Table 3: Scales of order and peace in Africa and Latin America

Chair: Marie France Chatin, Radio France Internationale

Pan-Africanism, the Way Forward

Cheikh Tidiane Gadio, President of the Pan-African Institute of Strategy, Former Foreign Minister, Dakar

Latin America’s States and Regional Integration

Ernesto Ottone, former adviser to President Ricardo Lagos, Chair Globalisation and Democracy, Diego Portales University, Santiago de Chile, and Chair World Destinies of Latin America, College of World Studies, Paris


15:15-16:15 Round Table 4: Multipolar Asia?

Chair: Marie France Chatin, Radio France Internationale

Japan and China in Asia

Nobutaka Miura, Vice-President of the French-Japanese House, Tokyo

New Delhi and Asia

Jean-Luc Racine, Vice-President of Asia Centre, Director of Research Emeritus at CNRS and EHESS, Paris


16:30-18:00 Round Table 5: From the Crises, a new Regional Order in the Middle East?

Chair: Jean-Luc Racine

A perspective from Tehran

Professor Hamzeh Safavi, Institute for Islamic World Future Studies, Teheran

Which regional order in the Middle East?

Agnès Levallois, associate professor at SciencesPo Paris and ENA, vice-président of iReMMO, member of the editorial board of the journal Confluences Méditerranée, Paris

Turkey, ambitions and realities

Ali Kazancigil, Researcher in Political Sciences, Anatoli Quarterly, Paris

Is a system of collective security in the Middle East possible?

Denis Bauchard, former Ambassador of Jordan and Director for North Africa and the Middle East at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Paris


18:00-18:30 General Debate

- Are National Visions reconcilable?

- Where to Start?

- Synthesis : Gaïdz Minassian, journalist at Le Monde, Paris


18:30-18:45 Conclusion: Michel Wieviorka, Chairman, Fondation de la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, Paris




105 Boulevard Raspail | 75006 Paris

16 juin 2017 | 9h00-18h45

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