This research article includes the current situation and actors of the international relations system and security and a prediction of what scenario we will encounter in 2050. The text consists of two parts. In the first part, the current situation of the international system and security will be examined in detail. During this review, the historical background and its impact on today’s relations will be touched upon. In the second part, what the international system and security will look like in 2050 will be examined. In this context, an answer was sought to the question of whether the existing actors could maintain their existence. Predictions were made about the new threats and the position of the actors in the system, along with their reasons.

Keywords: international system and security, current actors of IR, 2050 scenario of security

Historical and Current International System and Security

Today’s international relations system is based on the system that developed after the peace of Westphalia. The modern state understanding, nation-state concept, institutions, and international organizations emerged after this process. Although events such as two major world wars and the Cold War changed the balance of the system over time, new actors came into play. This way, a perspective beyond the traditional understanding of security has been gained against new threats. Although the claim that the Peace of Westphalia was the beginning of the emergence of the modern state and institutions is debated, this is a general acceptance. Concepts such as sovereignty, territorial integrity, balance of power, great and regional powers shaped its format after this period.

The post-Westphalian period brought with it an understanding in which states were the main actors of the international system, international law was prioritized, and the principle of balance of powers was adopted. The concept of security has also taken its place in this new system. The definition of security in the traditional sense and the policies aimed at ensuring it has remained on the stage of history for a long time. Phenomena such as military power, the understanding of the international system in which the state is the sole actor, power relations, hard politics, and the nuclear race are the tools of the traditional understanding of security.

In the early 1990s, the foundations of the new security approach began to take shape. Previously, the state was at the center of the system and security. The new understanding of security offers a human-centered perspective. Considering the development of the understanding of liberal democracy and the central role of human rights, the new understanding of security has gained a dimension that transcends borders. In this sense, a sequence such as the security of the individual, the security of the society, and the security of the regime has gained importance.

The phenomenon of security is directly related to threats. Today, with the emergence of new-generation threats, the understanding of security has also been updated in this regard. For example, issues that were previously a product of the traditional security approach, such as terrorism, would be discussed to ensure the security of society. In contrast, today topics that are within the scope of the new security approach, such as ensuring water supply, have emerged.

New threats such as food crises, epidemics, economic crises, climate change, education crises, and poverty crises, which we can call soft threats, are an important trivet in shaping the policies of the actors within the system. In this context, both international organizations within the current system, states, that still maintain their importance, and civil society have begun to create solutions to threats more consciously.

The Westphalian system and its components, which we discussed above, and the two types of security form the basis of today’s international system and understanding of security. Therefore, it is necessary to examine this basis and the changing conditions very well. In the second part of the article, I will make predictions about the international system and security issues in 2050. These predictions will emerge as a literal continuation of past understandings, or opposing them.

Another important factor shaping the current infrastructure of the international system is the polarity. The existence of different experiences such as unipolarity, bipolarity, and multipolarity in recent centuries is an indicator of the existence and effectiveness of different actors within the system. First, I will write about how these balances of power are shaped, and then I will conduct a detailed analysis of this topic in terms of the 2050 vision, the second part of the article.

Unipolarity is a system in which a dominant power is effective and active within the international system. This state establishes a hegemony over other states militarily, politically, and even culturally. In the bipolar world order, two major power systems dominate. The Cold War years are an example of this bipolar world. During this period, phenomena such as balance of powers, respect for sovereignty, and nuclear arms proliferation came to the fore. The concept called multipolarity sheds light on the periods when many powers in different lanes existed effectively and actively within the system. After the short-term US hegemony after the Cold War, it can be said that there was a transition to a multipolar system in the 21st century.

2050 Scenario Forecast of International System and Security

I predict that the multipolar world will be very decisive in terms of the international system and security approaches in 2050. I think multidimensional relationships are effective in this regard. In other words, I predict that not only military and diplomatic relations, but also new threat perceptions such as economy, climate change, cyber security, epidemics, demographic threats, migration problem, and rapid technological developments will increase in importance in this sense.

It seems that climate change will cause the lands of many countries to be flooded unless precautions are taken. Some of these densely populated countries, such as Bangladesh, will face migration in such a situation. As a result, millions of people’s search for living space will cause significant changes in the world.

In bipolar and unipolar systems, small powers had very limited room for maneuvering and acted as “satellite states”. On the other hand, I foresee that regional powers will continue to have a say in their spheres of influence within the multipolar ecosystem in the 2050 vision. I think that each country’s security understanding will become even more important in this multipolar order and conflicts may occur through organizations. In the 2050 vision, I think that despite the ongoing trade of each country on an economic basis, countries will seek new partnerships militarily and politically.

The landscape of international relations and security in 2050 will likely be shaped by several key factors. I think global governance and multilateralism will be more important rather than local government, single-actor principles, and practices. I think that today’s active institutions such as NATO and the European Union will increase their effectiveness in their fields. Although the EU is an economically established and updated organization according to the strategy document it published, it is making investments in new institutions such as police, intelligence, and security organizations. In my opinion, this is a phenomenon that increases the scope of the EU but reduces its efficiency. I think that in 2050, the EU will take on a structure that focuses more on economic investments, as it did in the past. As a result, the existence and scope of organizations such as NATO will not give opportunities to others, especially in the security and military field.

I think that regionally strong states will maintain their existence in 2050, as well as relatively new organizations such as BRICS. I think that China will increase its hegemony over other regions, especially in terms of economic and soft power, and this will pose threats to security after a while.

New agendas such as poverty, inequalities, individual security, feminism, and environmental security, which were mentioned before, will lead to new collaborations. I believe that new agreements and obligations will be imposed on sovereign states to find solutions to water problems, drought, and extreme climate changes. In short, I claim that the understanding of security and systems before the 21st century will be different from the understanding of today and in 2050. For this reason, I think the solutions to this will continue through softer cooperation rather than the military and diplomatic understanding of the old world.

This does not mean that the instruments of real politics will disappear completely. Even if the axis of conflict shifts to softer and more fundamental issues for human life, I think terrorism will continue. I think that local groups and terrorist organizations will be supported by great powers in 2050. According to the strategy document published by the EU, Europe thinks that the United States is lagging in maintaining its position as a great power in the system. However, it is underlined that the necessary cooperation will be established in organizations such as NATO in order to re-establish this. I think that such organizations will increase their effectiveness in their fields of interest in 2050.

I must underline that sustainability is important in the 2050 vision of making the international system functional. In this context, it is important that the internal functioning of sovereign states is democratic and reliable. However, social and economic conditions that help stability come to the fore as well. Finally, the rule of law is also among the important facts in this sense.

Various elements can be mentioned as actors in the 2050 international system and security context. Governments, official organizations, and civil society. Although these are important actors in today’s system, I think that new types of actors will be more effective in 2050. International companies can be given as examples of these new actors. Apart from these, it seems that migration, cyber security, and epidemics will also be on the agenda of 2050. The international system and security also update itself accordingly. I think that by 2050 we will encounter a system that is more focused on such issues.


In an increasingly interconnected world, addressing global challenges requires collaborative efforts. The effectiveness of international institutions in facilitating cooperation and conflict resolution will be crucial for maintaining peace and security.

In conclusion, envisioning the international system and security landscape in 2050 necessitates a holistic understanding of the dynamic interplay between various factors. As technological advancements redefine the nature of conflicts, climate change introduces new dimensions of competition and cooperation. The roles of traditional nation-states, international organizations, non-state actors, and emerging global players will continue to evolve global governance.


  1. European Union Global Strategy: Shared Vision, Common Action: A Stronger Europe
  2. Mapping of Global Security Threats and the Global Security Architecture
  3. A Critical Review on The Consensus Around the “Westphalian System”
  4. State Failure and Security in a Post-Westphalia Era
  5. The International System in the 21st Century
  6. Rethinking the Sovereign State Model
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Enes Bera Koşar

Istanbul Medeniyet Univ. Political Sciences Balkan Studies eneskosar00[at]


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