Everyone agrees the world is changing. The question is in which direction? This paper offers an original contribution to the debate on the future shape of the international system. Based on a diagnosis of current developments, it argues that many factors point to the emergence of an ‘interpolar’ world. Interpolarity can be defined as multipolarity in the age of interdependence. The redistribution of power at the global level, leading to a multipolar international system, and deepening interdependence are the two basic dimensions of the transition away from the post-Cold War world. All too often, however, they are treated as separate issues. The real challenge lies in finding a new synthesis between the shifting balance of power and the governance of interdependence.
In the emerging international system, the asymmetric distribution of power assets puts a systemic brake on the unilateral temptations of all powers.