Skip to main content

Special purpose international collaboration

The “international rules-based system” that was built in the aftermath of the Second World War had the avowed aim of preventing states from going to war with one another. But an uneasy peace between great powers is a fragile commodity, and no guarantee of stability.

This instability has become clearer recently. With a system based on containing power struggles and conflict, those states intent on struggling for power are naturally tempted to regard the international rules as constraints that are binding for others rather than for themselves. The more powerful the states in question become, the more inclined they are to disregard constraints that do not suit them. 

In this report, Sir Oliver Letwin argues that the basis for moving forward is to leave intact the institutions that already exist to prevent conflict between states (albeit with such reforms as are possible to achieve), and to seek to establish alongside them a new set of Special Purpose International Collaborations (SPICs). These SPICs would have a specific and different purpose — namely, to provide a framework for joint action in tackling common challenges.