What is the New World Order?

The term New World Order signifies a movement of global activism by individuals, groups, and nations.
The term New World Order signifies a movement of global activism by individuals, groups, and nations.

New World Order is a term used to define the period of the dramatic change in the world of politics. Although the term has been interpreted differently, it is basically related to the idea of global governance, particularly in the aspect of a collective effort to identify, diagnose, and tackle worldwide challenges that an individual nation or state cannot handle on its own. People are becoming politically active, politically aware, and politically interactive. Global activism against oppression and the need for cultural respect and economic freedom is gaining momentum worldwide. Nations are realizing the need to fight a common enemy together rather than individually.

Usage of the Phrase “New World Order”

The well-known use of the term “new world order” was in connection with the Fourteen Points by Woodrow Wilson after the World War I and during the creation of the League of Nation. The World War I had highlighted the need to need to create a safer world for democracy. Wilson proposed a new world order which was to transcend the usual great power politics. He emphasized the need to collectively enhance security, democracy, and self-determination. However, the Americans refused to be part of the League of Nation, which Wilson viewed as key to new world order. The term was also used sparingly after the World War II, during the creation of the United Nations. It fell from use partly because of the failure of the League of Nations while others perceived it as a projection of the American dream.

The term “new world order” as was used during the post-Cold War had no definite meaning. It may have been redefined progressively in three different periods; by the Soviets, the US before Malta Conference, and after September 11, 1990. Initially, the new world order dealt exclusively with nuclear disarmament but was later expanded by Gorbachev to include the strengthening of the UN

​Who Were Involved?


The phrase new world order was first used in the press during the Russo-Indian talks on November 21, 1988, by Rajiv Gandhi while referring to the commitment by the USSR following the Declaration of Delhi. His description of new world order was that of non-violence and peaceful coexistence. However, the principle statement leading to the formation of the concept of new world order was given by Mikhail Gorbachev during his speech to the UN General Assembly on December 7, 1988. His speech included a list of ideas that would help form the new order, including strengthening the role of the UN and the active involvement of the member states. A month later, his speech was analyzed by the Times Magazine, giving possible implications. According to the article, the new world order meant a shift of resources from military to domestic needs that would lead to dwindling of security alliances such as NATO. The author of the article felt that the then US president, Bush, needed to counter Gorbachev’s ideas since he stood a chance of losing leadership to Gorbachev.

President George Bush

Gorbachev’s idea of a new order was considered consequential to the US and the leadership of Bush. Therefore, Bush crafted a strategy to challenge Gorbachev at the Malta Conference. During the conference, President Bush proposed that the new world order is established under the United Nations. He noted in a news conference that if countries of the world united and worked together then there will be international order and the world will be more peaceful than before. In an effort to strengthen the new order, Bush offered to include the Soviet troops in the forces that were liberating Kuwait. He placed the future the NWO to the US and the Soviet Union’s ability to counter Saddam Hussein’s aggression. On September 11, 1990, Bush while addressing the joint session of Congress, pointed out the commitment of the US to strengthen itself so that it could lead the world towards rule of law. He also highlighted the need for the Soviet-American partnership towards making the world safe for democracy.

​Review of the Past New World Order

The idea of NWO as was highlighted by Bush can be summarized into three major aspects; the offensive use of force, collective security, and great power cooperation. The three aspects came about as a result of domestic, personal, and global factors. The Gulf Crisis was seen as a major contributing factor to the development and implementation of the new world order. Before then, the concept of new order remained complex and unproven. The Gulf War was considered a test case for the UN’s credibility and a model for countering the aggressors. The US was to act in a way that the rest of the world would trust during the war and thus get the support of the UN. In “A World Transformed,” Scowcroft concludes that although the US has ability and resources to take care of its interests, it has taken on the responsibility to pursue the common good. During Bill Clinton’s presidency, the new world order became more prominent, with the Progressive Caucus openly promoting socialism.

​Recent Usage

The phrase has been in use since its inception, especially in the political field. In 1994, Henry Kissinger claimed that a new world order was not possible without the US participation since it was the most significant component. The former UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair used the phrase in November 2000 and also in 2001 to 2003 while calling for a new world order. Gordon Brown, also former UK Prime Minister also called for a new world order in 2008 while on a tour to New Delhi. He also used the phase at the G20 Summit in 2009 in London.

Several other world leaders such as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian President, and his Georgian counterpart, Mikheil Saakashvili have also called for a new world order. Some scholars have also advanced their thesis on the declining global influence of the US and the rising of illiberal powers including China. Political analysts such as Leonid Grinin of Russia acknowledge the US will continue to play a critical role in the new world order.


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