Director, Global  Thinkers Institute (GTI), Observer, Reseacher on Ge-Philosophy, Geostrategy, Intelligence and Defense.

GTI-Almost certainly, we will not find a systematic and consistent definition of a Multipolar World in various books and articles. The construction of the Multipolar World theory is usually a response to the process of globalization, which is driven by the center and core of the modern world (US, Europe, and, more broadly, “the Global Western bloc” towards countries outside the supra-power circle.

A comparison of the potential of the US and Europe, on the one hand, and the emerging centers of new power (China, India, Russia, Latin American countries, etc.), on the other, further convinces of the relativity of these countries. The tradition of Western superiority raises new questions about the logic of long-term processes that determine the architecture of global power on a global scale, in the areas of politics, economics, energy, demography, culture, and others.

All these observations are very important for reconstructing the Multipolar World Theory, which of course starts from fragments, sketches and possibly fails to reach the level of theoretical and conceptual generalization.

It is also worth considering that, calls for a Multipolar World order are increasingly heard at official summits of international conferences, and congresses. We can find references to the idea of Multipolarity in a number of important international agreements and in the texts of national security and defense strategy conceptions in many influential and powerful countries such as China, Russia, Iran and parts of the European Union. So that academic and scientific demands can be met.

Multipolarity vs Westphalia

Before we proceed seriously with the construction of the Theory of the Multipolar World (TMW), we must firmly have an idea of the conceptual zone being studied. For this reason, we will consider the basic concepts, determining forms of global order that are definitely not multipolar and therefore, the idea of multipolarity has an alternative status.


We will next enter and begin discussing the Westphalian global order. The Treaty of Westphalia was a peace treaty that ended the Thirty Years' War, one of the worst conflicts in European history. Historians often group it under one of two terms: the Treaty of Westphalia or the Peace of Westphalia.

The Peace of Westphalia, referring to the European settlement of 1648, is a region of northwestern Germany and one of the three historic parts of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

This peace ended the Eighty Years' War between Spain and the Netherlands and the German phase of the Thirty Years' War. Peace was negotiated, from 1644, in the Westphalian cities of Münster and Osnabrück. The Spanish-Dutch treaty was signed on 30 January 1648. The treaty of 24 October 1648 included the Holy Roman emperor Ferdinand III, other German princes, France, and Sweden. Britain, Poland, Russia, and the Ottoman Empire were the only European powers not represented in either house. Some international relations experts praise the treaty for providing the foundation for the modern state system and articulating the concept of territorial sovereignty.


The delegates to this agreement were the main representatives of the Holy Roman emperor, Maximilian, Graf (count) von Trauttmansdorff, whose wisdom was crucial in determining the outcome of the peace. The French envoys were under Henri II d'Orléans, duc de Longueville, while the Marquis de Sablé and the comte d'Avaux were French agents. Sweden was represented by John Oxenstierna, son of the chancellor, John Adler Salvius, who had previously acted for Sweden in negotiating the Treaty of Hamburg (1641). Fabio Chigi, who later became Pope Alexander VII. Brandenburg, represented by Johann, Graf von Sayn-Wittgenstein, played a major role among the Protestant states of the empire.

Under the terms of the peace settlement, a number of countries accepted territory or confirmed their sovereignty over a territory. The territorial clauses all benefited both Sweden, France and their allies. Sweden gained western Pomerania (with the city of Stettin), the port of Wismar, the archdiocese of Bremen, and the diocese of Verden.

These advantages gave Sweden control over the Baltic Sea and the mouths of the Oder, Elbe, and Weser rivers.

France gained sovereignty over Alsace and was assured of possession of Metz, Toul, and Verdun, which it had captured a century earlier; France then gained a solid border west of the Rhine River.

Brandenburg gained eastern Pomerania and several other small territories. Bavaria was able to retain the upper falz, while the Rhenish falz returned to the hands of Charles Louis, son of elector palatine Frederick V. Two other important results of the territorial settlement were the confirmation of the United Provinces of the Netherlands and the Swiss Confederation as independent republics, thus formally recognizing their true status. has been held by both countries for decades.

Despite these territorial changes, a universal and unconditional amnesty for all those who had been dispossessed of their property was also announced, and it was decreed that all secular land (with certain exceptions) should be returned to those who had held it in 1618.

More important than territorial redistribution was the ecclesiastical settlement. The Peace of Westphalia confirmed the Peace of Augsburg (1555), which granted religious toleration to Lutherans in the empire and was later annulled by Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II in the Edict of Restitution (1629). Moreover, this peace settlement extended the provisions of the Peace of Augsburg regarding religious toleration to the Reformed (Calvinist) church, thus ensuring toleration for the three major religious communities in the empire—Roman Catholics, Lutherans, and Calvinists. Within these limits, member states of the empire were obliged to allow at least private worship, freedom of conscience, and the right of emigration to all religious minorities and dissidents within their territories. However, these acts of tolerance did not extend to non-Catholics in the Habsburg family's hereditary lands.

The difficult question of spiritual land ownership was resolved through compromise. The year 1624 was declared the “standard year” stating that these territories were considered to belong to either Roman Catholicism or Protestantism. With the important provision that a prince must lose his land if he changes religion, this then became an obstacle to the further spread of both the Reformation and Counter-Reformation camps.

In this way, the Westphalian peace became the foundation of a system that recognized the absolute sovereignty of nation-states which became the basis for building the entire field of international relations law. Again, this system, formed after 1648 (the end of the Thirty Years' War in Europe), went through several stages of formation and to a certain extent corresponded to objective reality until the end of the Second World War.

This system emerged from the rejection of medieval imperial pretensions to universalism and “divine mission”, paralleled bourgeois reforms in European society, and was based on the position that supreme sovereignty belonged only to the nation-state, while no authority outside the state had the legal right to interfere in the internal politics of this country, whatever its goals and missions, such as (religious, political or other). From the mid-17th century to the mid-20th century, this principle determined European politics and was applied with some modifications to the rest of the world.

The Westphalian system initially concerned only European states, while their colonies were considered mere extensions of them, lacking sufficient political and economic potential to claim independent sovereignty. From the beginning of the 20th century and during the period of decolonization, the same Westphalian principles spread throughout the former colonies.

The Westphalian model assumes full legal equality among sovereign states. In this model, the number of foreign policy decision-making poles in the world is as large as the number of sovereign states. This rule implicitly applies even now due to inertia, and all international law is based on it. However, in practice, of course there is inequality and hierarchical subordination between sovereign states.

In the First and Second World Wars, the distribution of power between the largest global powers expanded into the confrontation of separate blocs, where decisions were made in the most powerful country among its allies. As a result of the Second World War, especially as a result of the defeat of Nazi Germany and the Axis countries, a "bipolar" world system of international relations was formed, called the Yalta system. Yalta itself was a conference, sometimes called the Crimean Conference, or the Argonaut Conference, which was a World War II conference held from 4 to 11 February 1945. The conference participants were the governments of the United States, the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom.

De jure international law based on the Yalta system still recognizes the absolute sovereignty of a state. But de facto, major decisions regarding central questions of world order and global politics are made only in two centers, Washington and Moscow.

Multipolar vs Yalta

Well, a multipolar world is different from the classical Westphalian system, because this system recognizes separate nation-states, legally and formally sovereign, recognizing the status of intact polar countries. As a result, the number of states in a multipolar world should be much smaller than the number of recognized (and unrecognized) nation-states. Currently, most of these countries cannot by themselves guarantee their own security or prosperity in the face of possible conflict with the hegemon (the US). As a result, they are politically and economically dependent on external sources. Because of their dependence, these countries cannot become centers of truly independent and sovereign will in global problems regarding world order.

Multipolarity is not a system of international relations that emphasizes the legal equality of nation-states, and is taken for granted. Multipolarity is the outward appearance of a completely different world picture, based on the balance of power and real strategic potential, not just on nominal aspects.

Multipolarity operates according to real conditions. Not only de jure, but also de facto, and this starts from the main inequalities of countries in the contemporary world and which have been empirically determined. Moreover, the structure of this inequality is such that secondary and tertiary states are unable to defend their sovereignty, even in a bloc configuration, against possible external challenges from hegemonic powers. Therefore, this kind of sovereignty can be said to be a "legal fiction".

Multipolarity Concept

The concept of a multipolar world, proposed by Russia, supported by China, India and a number of other major countries, was coined in the mid-1990s as a reaction to post-Cold War global hegemony. These theoretical ideas eventually turned into practical goals and then into international reality.

The next stage is to conceptualize how exactly this world order will function. On what basis will the centers of power interact and how can the conflicts inherent in polycentrism be overcome? The term polycentrism in geopolitical science is based on the principles of relations between subjects of international law, based on equality of expression of will, respect, recognition of national sovereignty, the right of a nation to identify itself in the world community, on the tolerant perception of all international subjects.

However, polycentric systems cannot be combined into one definition. Centers of power, influence and development are culturally and ideologically independent. Creating a world order means developing mechanisms that take into account the interests of all people and work together for the development of all. In this way, it is similar to the BRICS mission. We can find definitions of BRIC from within its members and counter groups.

"BRICS" is an acronym that denotes the global economic move, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The term was originally coined in 2001 as "BRIC" by Goldman Sachs economist Jim O'Neill in his report, Building Better Global Economic BRICs (Global Economics Paper No: 66). At that time, the economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China experienced significant growth, raising concerns about the impact on the global economy. The foreign ministers of these countries began meeting informally in 2006, which then led to more formal annual summits starting in 2009.

In December 2010, South Africa joined the informal group and changed its acronym to BRICS. According to the World Factbook, these developing countries represent 42% of the world's population and contribute more than 31% of world GDP. According to the chairman of the 2023 summit, South Africa, more than 40 countries are interested in joining the economic forum because of the benefits that its members will provide including development financing, and increased trade and investment. At the end of the summit it was announced that Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Arab Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will become new members of BRICS starting in 2024.

This organization has entered a new stage of development, expansion, which means a transition towards the gradual creation of another world system-not within the framework of fighting against anyone, but on the basis of necessarily qualitatively different principles.