In a world of darkness, human agency casts a light

The existing world order is in crisis. Multilateralism and the institutions that give life to it like the United Nations and World Trade Organisation are under unprecedented stress as great powers not just ignore but denigrate them.

"My country, first" is the mantra of our times. Consequently, the rule-based international order is increasingly being replaced with one where might is right. We are heading back to Thucydides' world where "the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must".

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 29, 2019, with the headline 'In a world of darkness, human agency casts a light'. Print Edition | Subscribe