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Analysis & Opinions - Foreign Affairs

How to Build a Better Order

| September/October 2022

The authors propose a simple, four-part framework to guide relations among major powers. This framework presupposes only minimal agreement on core principles—at least at first—and acknowledges that there will be enduring disagreements about how many issues should be addressed. Rather than imposing a detailed set of prescriptive rules (as the World Trade Organization and other international regimes do), this framework would function as a "meta-regime": a device for guiding a process through which rival states or even adversaries could seek agreement or accommodation on a host of issues. When they do not agree, as will often be the case, adopting the framework can still enhance communication among them, clarify why they disagree, and offer them incentives to avoid inflicting harm on others, even as they seek to protect their own interests.