By the standards of prosperity and peace, the post-Cold War international order has been an unparalleled success. Over the last thirty years there has been more creation of wealth, and reduction of poverty, disease, and food insecurity than in all of previous history. During the same period, the numbers and lethality of wars have decreased. Yet these facts have not deterred an alternative assessment that asserts that civil violence, terrorism, and failed states are at unprecedented high levels, and the numbers of refugees are at an all time high.
There is no global crisis of failed states and endemic civil war, no global crisis of refugees and migration, and no global crisis of disorder. Instead what we have seen is a particular historical crisis unfold in the greater Middle East, which has collapsed order within that region, and has fed the biggest threat to international order: populism in the United States and Europe.
Stephen John Stedman is Deputy Director of the Center on Democracy, Development, and Rule of Law (CDDRL), Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, and Professor of Political Science (by courtesy) at Stanford University. At CDDRL Professor Stedman directs the project on American Democracy in Comparative Perspective, which examines the sources and extent of polarization and paralysis in Western democracies. From 2010 to 2012 he served as the Director for the Global Commission on Elections, Democracy, and Security, a body of eminent persons tasked with developing recommendations on promoting and protecting the integrity of elections. Professor Stedman drafted the Commission’s report, Deepening Democracy: A Strategy for Improving the Integrity of Elections Worldwide. In 2003-2004 Professor Stedman was Research Director of the United Nations High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change and was a principal drafter of the Panel’s report, A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility. In 2005 he served as Assistant Secretary General and Special Advisor to the Secretary General of the United Nations, with responsibility for working with governments to adopt the Panel’s recommendations for strengthening collective security and for implementing changes within the United Nations Secretariat, including the creation of a Peacebuilding Support Office, a Counter Terrorism Task Force, and a Policy Committee to act as a cabinet to the Secretary General.
Professor Stedman has written widely on transnational threats to international security. He is currently researching the historical development of the concept of security and how its meanings have changed over time. Professor Stedman received his BA, MA and PhD degrees from Stanford University. He and his wife, Corinne Thomas, are the Resident Fellows in Crothers -- Stanford’s academic theme house on global citizenship.