In the era of globalization and digital technologies, all of us are familiar with the terminologies of the First World and the Third World. The First World, or the Core States, includes nations with highly industrialized economies, a high standard of living, and a considerable amount of influence on the global system. Whereas the Third World or the Periphery Nations include countries that have a lower standard of living, developing or semi-industrialized economies, and have little to no influence on the global system. These terminologies and their meaning changed over the years. During the Cold War, the Third World included nations that were non-aligned and were not part of the United States-led NATO nor the Soviet Union-led Warsaw Pact. Whereas during the Cold War, the first world included nation-states that were associated with the US-led NATO, there was also the second world, which included nations associated with the Soviet Union-led Eastern bloc.
With the arrival of the 21st century and the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the global political landscape changed. Where the concept of the Second World was removed and only the concepts of the First World and Third World remained, but with a different meaning. Some of the nations that were closely allied with the United States and were part of the First World during the Cold War later became part of the Third World developing nations of the 21st century, for example, Pakistan. The First and Third World concepts are now obsolete in the current geopolitical landscape, and to further elaborate the current world order, the system is now divided into nations such as the developed core states, semi-periphery states, and periphery developing states.
With the recent rise of multiple powers in Central Asia, the Middle East, and East Asia challenging the United States-led global order, the world has now shifted from the early 2000s unipolar world to the current multi-polar world where China and the United States are the leading rival powers. With the rise of the People’s Republic of China, the current global system has been shaken up, and regional powers are reviewing their national interests and alliances. The uncertainty created by the rise of China, which is now challenging the United States in every field, has now created a global system that is in an anarchical state. Even mediating global organizations like the United Nations, World Trade Organization, World Health Organization, etc. have failed to reduce tensions between regional powers, especially the rivalry between the leading global powers, including the People’s Republic of China and the United States. The current anarchy in our global system indicates that the world is transitioning from a unipolar world into a multipolar one, where the global system will likely face the issue of having no central power to dictate global policies. When we look at the realist school of political science, it is quite visible that in the current stage, there is no ultimate global legal authority, and nations of the multi-polar world are now operating under the law of the jungle.