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RP 4: Global Orders and Foreign Policies

What kind of regional and global orders develop in contemporary global politics? How do the policies of diverse actors, ranging from powers in the Global South to activists and other non-state actors, affect these regional and global orders and their institutions? Two key processes critically affect global politics today: first, the emergence of new or previously marginalised actors, and second, the development of regionally varying sets of institutions and principles. The Global Orders and Foreign Policies Research Programme studies the new complexity of global politics as a result of these processes, focusing on the future of regional and global institutions and the (foreign) policies of the diverse actors that engage with them.

We analyse major trends, such as climate change, global health crises, populism, global power shifts, the new importance of South-South relations, and how they transform global order, for instance through the emergence of new steering mechanisms in an increasingly complex global system. This also critically includes research on both traditional foreign policy-making but also the growing importance of transnational linkages between domestic actors, including business, political parties and civil society groups. In doing so, the RP blends International Relations with expertise from comparative politics, economics and other social sciences disciplines represented at the GIGA. Integrating quantitative and qualitative methods, we develop and discuss notions of global order, multilateralism, governance and justice from a diversity of vantage points, with a special focus on those ideas emanating from the regions of the Global South. An important aspect of this work are our manifold partnerships and networks in the GIGA regions. This allows to us contribute to the inclusive theorisation of international affairs and produce policy-relevant empirical expertise.

We conduct this work in two research teams. The International Institutions and Legitimacy Research Team analyses the interaction of normative changes in the global order with the authority and legitimacy of international institutions, particularly considering global power shifts. The Ideas, Actors and Global Politics Research Team examines how specific actors’ identities, ideas and foreign policy preferences drive transformations of global order. It explores, for instance, the international responsibilities rising powers from the Global South are ready to accept within global multilateralism or the foreign policy preferences of populist governments.


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Research Teams

The researchers in the Global Orders and Foreign Policies Programme are organised in two teams that deal with the new complexity of global politics:

  • The International Institutions and Legitimacy Research Team examines the interaction of normative changes in the global order with the authority and legitimacy of international institutions, particularly considering global power shifts .

  • The Ideas, Actors and Global Politics Research Team analyses the specific processes involved in the crafting of individual foreign policies as well as, more general, visions of international order across the Global South.

Research Team 1: International Institutions and Legitimacy

The International Institutions and Legitimacy Research Team examines the politics of international institutional development. We analyse how the rise of powers from the Global South, transnational activist groups, and other influential non-state actors shapes the formation of regionally varying sets of institutions and principles and how these regional transformations contribute to the growing complexity of the global multilateral order. This increasingly polycentric order provides, on the one hand, increased opportunities for interaction and more flexibility in terms of partner choice at the regional and international levels. On the other hand, the multiplication and overlapping of institutions engendered by the new order have caused fragmentation and disorder that call into question the normative foundations and empirical legitimacy of the multilateral order and its elemental institutions. Against this backdrop, we address the following questions:

  • Do global power shift and rising multipolarity trigger the spread of equity norms? How does the rise of equity norms shape the legitimacy of international institutions?

  • What are the effects of the widespread democratic backsliding and the emergence of China as a global power on democracy and human rights promotion through international organisations?

  • How do regional organisations legitimise themselves in this transforming environment, what communicative and institutional legitimation strategies do regional organisations use, and what factors explain differences and similarities across world regions?

  • How does the growing complexity of the international order shape the legitimacy of political institutions across levels of governance ?

Research Team 2: Ideas, Actors and Global Politics

Globalisation processes of the past decades have contributed to the internationalisation of domestic actors – from businesses to political parties or civil society groups. Meanwhile, a number of states in the Global South, from rising powers such as China and India to regional or middle powers such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia, have gained diplomatic visibility, economic influence, and political importance in an increasingly multipolar world. Thus, the specific political ideas, narratives, and ideologies endorsed by domestic actors involved in foreign policy-making in the Global South have become more important for understanding today’s international affairs. RT2 explores the variety of domestic and transnational actors involved in global and regional politics, their respective foreign policy interests, negotiation strategies, and worldviews. Taking into account domestic institutions and politics, team members also analyse the specific processes involved in the crafting of individual foreign policies as well as, more general, visions of international order across the Global South. Against this backdrop, we address the following questions:

  • How do global power shifts affect foreign policy roles across the Global South – and what are the consequences thereof for international “order”?

  • What are the origins and the specific content of normative ideas and political ideologies that affect the foreign policies of rising powers?

  • How do smaller (“secondary”) states react to the new competition amongst and between rising and established powers?

  • How do Diasporas and their politicisation affect international politics?

  • What impact does the formation of populist governments have on foreign policy?