States and quasi-states are using extreme, uninhibited violence against civilian populations.
The “rules-based world order” is a system of norms and values that describe how the world ought to work, not how it actually works. This aspirational order is rooted in the idealistic aftermath of the Second World War, when it was transcribed into a series of documents: the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Genocide Convention, and the Geneva Conventions on the laws of war, among others. In the more than seven decades since they were written, these documents have frequently been ignored. The UN Genocide Convention did not prevent genocide in Rwanda. The Geneva Conventions did not stop the Vietnamese from torturing American prisoners of war, did not prevent Americans at Abu Ghraib from torturing Iraqi prisoners of war, and do not prevent Russians from torturing Ukrainian prisoners of war today. Signatories of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights include known violators of human rights, among them China, Cuba, Iran, and Venezuela. The UN Commission on Human Rights deteriorated into parody long ago.