Globalization and Geopolitics

21st Century Council

As the premiere program for the Berggruen Institute and its work in the area of Globalization and Geopolitics, the 21st Century Council — an international group of 40 former heads of state or government, global thinkers, and tech entrepreneurs — was founded in 2010 as a forum to address the challenges faced by both advanced and emerging countries in an interdependent, but fragmenting world.

At its first meeting in Paris, the Council adopted the working theme of “building on a convergence of interests to forge a global community of interests.” Since that time, the Council has advised and met with chairs of the annual G-20 summit and organized regular “Understanding China” meetings with President Xi Jinping and other top leaders in Beijing in 2013, 2015, and 2018.

In the wake of the anti-globalization backlash that brought nationalist and populist movements to power in major countries, the Council has focused on how to harness globalization so that it works for all (21st Century Council Annual Report 2017) and preventing a division of the world once again into hostile geopolitical blocs.



Critiques and defenses of the so-called Liberal International Order are now commonplace in Western academic and policy thought. In practice, the post-WWII global institutional order was never all that liberal, and has been in decline for decades. The essence of today’s geopolitical challenge is how to promote economic and political freedoms in a world characterized by weak institutions and a broadly and increasingly transactional approach to international politics. Looking past unproductive and nostalgic calls for ‘restoring’ a legacy system, the Berggruen Institute seeks to build a forward-looking model that focuses on liberal outcomes without relying on the revival of anachronistic institutions. This project aims both to provide a new theory for scholars to think about the 21st international system, and decision makers with a roadmap for effectively advancing liberal ends.

Promoting US-China Dialogue on AI & Security

Like electricity, artificial intelligence is a pervasive technology that is woven into products and services across many industries and sectors, many of which have both civilian and military applications. And U.S.-China relations are extensive, even pervasive, across industrial sectors and along the diplomatic, economic and strategic domains. The Berggruen Institute seeks to improve mutual understanding between the United States and China about security risks, safety concerns, and potential cooperation opportunities with respect to AI in the security sphere. The ultimate goal is to articulate approaches to AI/Security risk management, including shared norms, that can inform formal diplomacy and strategic dialogue between these countries.