This is the old United Nations University website. Visit the new site at

  UNU Home           UNUP Home           Publications           Staff           Feedback           Search           Contacts           Disclaimer
ISBN 92-808-1059-6
2001, 300 pages
US$26.95, paper
Power in Transition: The Peaceful Change of International Order
Charles A. Kupchan, Emanuel Adler, Jean-Marc Coicaud and Yuen Foong Khong with the assistance of Jason Davidson and Mira Sucharov

As this new century progresses, America will not be able to sustain the global preponderance it enjoys today. Over time, a unipolar international system will give way to a world of multiple centers of power. A more diffuse concentration of power could have quite adverse global consequences. Although scholars disagree about whether bipolar or multipolar systems are more stable, most agree that both are less stable than unipolar systems.

Power in Transition addresses the question of how to prepare for the waning of American hegemony and the resultant geopolitical consequences. Can the impending transition to multipolarity be managed peacefully? Is systemic change possible without war? Under what conditions and through what causal mechanisms can power transitions occur peacefully?

The authors identify past cases of peaceful transition, seek to understand which variables enable major power shifts to occur without war, and draw lessons on how the international community can best manage the coming transition to multipolarity. The analysis focuses on three core issues: how contenders for primacy come to see one another as benign; how they negotiate a mutually acceptable international order; and how they legitimize that order. The authors also reflect on whether the nature of systemic change is itself changing because of social learning and underlying shifts in the character of the international system. Case studies examined include the Concert of Europe, Anglo-American rapprochement at the end of the nineteenth century, and ASEAN.

This volume helps fill a major gap in the literature on peaceful systemic change. It also contributes to efforts within the scholarly and policy communities to establish the means by which peaceful management of coming change in the international system may be achieved.

Charles A. Kupchan is Associate Professor of International Affairs at Georgetown University and Whitney Shepardson Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Emanuel Adler is Associate Professor, Department of International Relations, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Jean-Marc Coicaud is a Senior Fellow at the US Institute of Peace, Washington DC, while on leave from the United Nations University, Tokyo, where he is a Senior Academic Officer in the Peace and Governance Programme.

Yuen Foong Khong is a Fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford University. From 1998 to 2000, he was Acting Director and Professor, Institute of Defence & Strategic Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

Table of Contents:

- Introduction: Explaining Peaceful Power Transition
- Benign States and Peaceful Transition
- Negotiating Order During Power Transitions
- Legitimacy, Socialization and International Change
- Peaceful Power Transitions: The Historical Cases
- The Change of Change: Peaceful Transitions of the Power in the Multilateral Age
- Conclusion: The Shifting Nature of Power and Peaceful Systemic Change

UNU home