World Order and National Interest


  • Hans Köchler University of Innsbruck



balance of power, bonum commune, collective security, multipolarity, national interests, realpolitik, sovereignty, United Nations, universal values, world order


A rational foreign policy must define the criteria of “national interest” in a consistent and transparent manner in order to enable other states to calculate their behavior accordingly and to avoid global instability. The basic rationale of “national interest” is the self-preservation of the state from which all specific interests, including those of national security, are derived. The concept as such is multidimensional, comprising the realization of economic, social and cultural rights of the respective polity in the worldwide interplay of forces. In the era of globalization, it must naturally be defined on the basis of interdependence at the factual and reciprocity of interests at the normative level.
In a unipolar power constellation such as the present one, the unilateral assertion of national in­terests by the dominant power, cloaked in the guise of universal values, risks to cause regional conflicts and global instability. Only if exercised in a framework of checks and balances, is the policy of national interest compatible with peace. This means that a global balance of power, whether bipolar or multipolar, is indispensable for the assertion of the national interest. The principle of sovereign equality of nations, a basic norm of the UN Charter, is only meaningful, and the United Nations system of collective security can only be realized, if states act on the basis of mutuality.
For the policy of the national interest not to undermine its very foundation, namely the sovereignty of the state and the inalienable rights of its citizens, it must include universal values shared by all members of the international community. The concept should thus be redefined in the context of “mutual global interests.” Those must include the principles of human rights and the rule of law as guidelines of a just world order.


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Author Biography

Hans Köchler, University of Innsbruck

Professor (em.) of Philosophy, University of Innsbruck (Austria), president of the International Progress Organization, co-president of the International Academy for Philosophy




How to Cite

Köchler, H. (2015). World Order and National Interest. WISDOM, 5(2), 84–92.