Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 10/2011

Partners in Preventive Action: The United States and International Institutions

Paul B. Stares, Micah Zenko

September 2011

Council on Foreign Relations


The unipolar moment, to the extent it ever existed, has now truly passed. The United States is part of a globalized world, in which the flows of goods, finance, people, and much more connect us to other countries as never before. But for all the myriad benefits globalization brings, it also means that the challenges of the coming decades—be they generated by resource competition, climate change, cybercrime, terrorism, or clas­sic competition and rivalry—cannot be solved or even mitigated by one country alone. Countries will need to cooperate on policies that extend across borders to address issues that affect them all. In this Council Special Report, CFR scholars Paul B. Stares and Micah Zenko argue that the United States should increasingly look to international institutions—the United Nations and regional organiza­tions like the European Union, the African Union, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations—as partners in conflict prevention and peacemaking worldwide. These organizations can serve as a platform for developing and enforcing international norms; provide a source of legitimacy for diplomatic and military efforts; and aggregate the opera­tional resources of their members, all of which can increase the ease and effectiveness of American peacemaking efforts.