Superstates reloaded

We live in an age of superstates. Such is the conclusion of Alasdair Roberts (2023). China(1.4), India (1.2), USA (0.33) and the EU (0.45) in billions of people jointly host about 40% of the world’s population (UN data). The Russian Federation with a population of 0.15, Japan 0.13 rank further behind, for example Pakistan 0.24 and Indonesia 0.27. Nothern, Eastern and Western Africa (0.25;0.46;0.42 respectively) have a huge unfulfilled potential that does not reach the impact it deserves.

These big and populated entities contrast with the increasing number of small states that have become new members of the United Nations. The institution of the United Nations, through its setup as an international rule based governance structure, has facilitated small states to seek voice and influence in the international arena of politics. The UN had 51 members in 1945 and has now a membership of 193 of all listed states of 237 on the globe. The increase in membership is due to many small states joining the UN after independence from big imperial powers. The international power relations, however, are only partially determined by population size but economic and military factors. The so-called superstates reach power through their power of direct and indirect “persuasion. Therefore the relationship between small and big states remains a delicate balance of power. Russia attempted to grab Ukraine and its population of 410 millions to remain in the league of superstates by population size and has suffered a hefty setback which further unsettles the disequilibrium of its male (68) and female (78) population with predominantly male soldiers’ lives lost.

Whereas we have seen the small states’ numbers on the rise in the last few decades, the expansion of superstates from Russia, China, India or Pakistan remain a threat to peace on the globe. The crystallization of a multi polar world order is on its way, but the stakes are high and unsettling in many respects. The fallout of war stalls the adaptation to climate change and increases the millions of starving people on the globe. the attempt to reach superstate status by already big states is probably the greatest danger we shall face for the coming years. Preparing for the instability of the world in transition to an increasing multi polar world order will dominate the political agenda of many intermediate powers as well as smaller states. (Image Globe Moscow 1994, displayed Stabi Berlin 2024)