Welcome Message from the TRANSCEND Director

Welcome to Transnational Challenges and Emerging Nations Dialogue, or TRANSCEND, an exciting new global partnership whose core objective is to study transnational challenges and explore solutions to them through multilateral cooperation at global and regional levels. As a worldwide network of academic research centers, policy think-tanks, government agencies and non-governmental organizations, TRANSCEND specifically aims to forge a shared understanding among the developed and developing countries of how to manage the current diffusion of world power in the face of growing transnational challenges. 

The TRANSCEND Concept Paper offers a comprehensive outline of our objectives and activities, but let me highlight a few of them here.

We are caught in a moment of transformation in global governance. A long-held belief among international relations scholars is that fundamental change to global power and leadership comes after anti-hegemonic wars, when the victorious power and its cohort set up new institutions to manage order. Yet, the current momentum to transform global governance comes in the absence of any struggle for global hegemony (before, rather than after victory). And unlike in the past, the agents of change comprise both Western and non-Western nations.

Two important developments make the challenge of global governance more complex and daunting than ever before. The first is the rise of transnational challenges, many of which come at short notice, respect no national boundary, and pose a long-term threat to national and human security around the globe. Such challenges include financial meltdowns, terrorism, climate change, drug trafficking, people smuggling, and outbreak of new forms of pandemics, and spread of technologies and weapons of mass destruction. While some of these challenges are not new, their effect is magnified by globalization, the effects of climate change, large scale movement of people through tourism and travel, and the information and communication revolutions.

The second development concerns changes to global power and leadership. We no longer live in the bipolar era, or the ‘unipolar moment’. The economic and security landscape of our world is being reshaped by what some have called “emerging powers”,(also called “regional powers” or “regional influentials”), but which for the purpose of this project we term as emerging nations.We define emerging nationsto include countries which have achieved a level of development and capacity (material, diplomatic and ideational) that sustains a regular and dynamic contribution to the management of transnational issues. This definition differs from the more limited notion of emerging powers, which rests mainly on physical, military and economic capabilities of states.

Although the diffusion of world power occurring today carries uncertainty and risks, it also creates new opportunities for strengthening global order through multilateral cooperation that taps the resources and dynamism of the emerging nations to addressing transnational challenges. But several questions beg serious reflection, research and analysis before we can develop a clear sense of their role in addressing the common dangers facing humankind.

Against this backdrop, TRANSCEND seeks to focus its research and networking on the following questions.

  1. What is the extent of homogeneity and diversity among the emerging nations? What are their shared interests? What are the key issues that divide them?
  2. What are their visions of world order? Do they empathize with universal values such as human rights and democracy, or seek to introduce their own values and norms that may depart from the current liberal world order?
  3. What are the ways and means through which they respond to transnational dangers? Do they primarily seek to safeguard their national interests and development goals, or are they also able to reconcile their national interests with the regional and global public good?
  4. What is the extent to which the material capabilities of the emerging nations are reshaping the global distribution of power? Do they enhance or weaken the international community’s ability to respond to transnational dangers? 
  5. Do the emerging nations bring in new ideas and seek to propagate new norms to govern international cooperation against transnational threats?
  6. What is their role in regional and global institutions and how do they seek to reform and restructure them? Do these institutional reforms make for better management of transnational dangers?
  7. How are the existing major powers responding to emerging nations and their role in transnational issue areas? Are they seeking to contain or arrest their development, or facilitate it?

The agenda of TRANSCEND is concerned principally with five issues:

  • Concepts and Approaches: Ideas and approaches to global and transnational governance.
  • Human Insecurity and Non-Traditional Threats: The nature and impact of transnational threats, e.g. climate change, financial crises, pandemics, human trafficking etc., and responding to them with the help of emerging nations.
  • Multilateralism and Diffusion of Power: The role of emerging forums, especially the G-20, and how they reshape North-South relations.
  • Governing Regional Worlds: The role of regional institutions in the management of transnational issues.
  • Ideas and the Unity of Civilizations: History tells us that civilizations do not necessarily clash, but learn and benefit from each other.  How to translate these lessons into concrete policy tools to arrest the perceptions of a clash of civilizations?

TRANSCEND is an open and inclusive network. Our membership draws from every continent and is growing. We have established a TRANSCEND Collaboratory in each member institution as a capacity-building and communication tool. A collaboratory is a “center without walls” and uses information and communication technologies to create a virtual environment for researchers to conduct their work without regard to geographic location.  The TRANSCEND Collaboratory will provide the technical assistance and advice to support all of the activities of the network, including the establishment and management of the network itself; facilitate the organization of and remote participation, and in the development of policy studies and practical solutions to transnational problems through enabling capacity building, robust policy dialogues, and consultations with stakeholders.

TRANSCEND is supported by the creation of an UNESCO Chair in Transnational Challenges and Governance, which is currently established at the School of International Service at American University in Washington, D.C.

In the coming months and years, it will be my pleasure to work with our members and partners in developing new programs and projects that will support and advance the goals of global governance.

Amitav Acharya
Professor of International Relations and
Director of TRANSCEND
UNESCO Chair in Transnational Challenges and Governance


TRANSCEND's 2010 to 2012 Report

The 2010 to 2012 report is an overview of TRANSCEND's activities, publications, and events.


Transnational Challenges and Emerging Nations Dialogue  (TRANSCEND) At American University , founded in 2011, is different from TRANSCEND,
A Peace, Development and Environment Network (www.transcend.org) founded in 1993 by Prof. Johan Galtung. The two organizations cooperate.