International relations in an age of globalization will be spearheaded not by a single hegemonic great power, such as America or China, but by “like-minded groups” that address and work toward resolving challenges cooperatively, according to a new paper from The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI).

In Leadership in a Turbulent Age (CIGI Paper No. 11), CIGI Distinguished Fellows Fen Osler Hampson and Paul Heinbecker outline why the world should expect to see more collective efforts of global leadership rather than hegemonic dominance. Internal political deadlocks in the US, the “changing capabilities, attitudes and values of (other nations) aspiring to participate in leadership, and a diminishing interest in and need for global leadership on the part of Americans,” are allowing for greater leadership by what can be called constructive powers, their paper states. These constructive powers include nations such as Australia, Brazil, Canada, Indonesia, Mexico, Turkey and South Korea.

Hampson (who also leads the Global Security Program at CIGI) and Heinbecker, a former advisor to successive Canadian governments, argue that the future of international relations lies in “cooperative ventures” and “issue-specific partnerships.” In an “age of global integration,” such multilateralism, and even “minilateralism,” will play a more central role than the historic and formal alliances that defined the First and Second World War and Cold War periods.

Governance of the Internet, with multiple stakeholders and both state and non-state actors negotiating future control, is among the international relations evolutions discussed in the paper. In addition, Hampson and Heinbecker address the increasing relevance of regional security arrangements, informal forms of collective-security problem-solving, and minilateralism, including the G20.

Hampson and Heinbecker say, “new, informal partnerships in the realms of security, economics and global governance and international institutional innovation seem likely to emerge among countries that are not themselves ‘great powers’ by the traditional definition, but that nonetheless have both compelling strategic interests in a peaceful, prosperous world and the diplomatic and, sometimes, military capacity and political disposition to make a significant difference.”

As such, with more countries seeking active engagement in global issues, it is likely that in the realm of international relations there will be “more hands on the steering wheel and more feet on the brake.” They add that “for constructive and engaged powers, there is a real opportunity in a messy world to provide leadership collectively or individually, or both.”

To download and read a free copy of Leadership in a Turbulent Age, please visit:


Fen Osler Hampson, CIGI Distinguished Fellow, is also Director of the Global Security Program and oversees the research direction of the program and related activities. Most recently, he served as director of the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs and continues to serve as chancellor’s professor at Carleton University. He is the recipient of various awards and honours, and is a frequent commentator and contributor to the national and international media.

Paul Heinbecker, CIGI Distinguished Fellow, has had a celebrated career in Canadian diplomacy, including posts as ambassador to Germany, permanent representative to the United Nations and adviser to various prime ministers. Paul Heinbecker is one of Canada’s most experienced commentators on foreign policy and international governance. He is also the director of the Centre for Global Relations at Wilfrid Laurier University.


Kevin Dias, Communications Specialist, CIGI
Tel: 519.885.2444, ext. 7238, Email: [email protected]

The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) is an independent, non-partisan think tank on international governance. Led by experienced practitioners and distinguished academics, CIGI supports research, forms networks, advances policy debate and generates ideas for multilateral governance improvements. Conducting an active agenda of research, events and publications, CIGI’s interdisciplinary work includes collaboration with policy, business and academic communities around the world. CIGI was founded in 2001 by Jim Balsillie, then co-CEO of Research In Motion, and collaborates with and gratefully acknowledges support from a number of strategic partners, in particular the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario. For more information, please visit


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