FICCI-KAS 6th Virtual Dialogue: New Normal Effect on Multilateralism


In the face of the global pandemic, the role of Multilateralism is a much-needed force to deal with the global health crisis. Many scholars and policy experts have expressed concerns that contemporary multilateralism is too feeble to manage the global pandemic situation. To have a robust discussion on the same topic, the Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) and the India Office of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) organized a webinar on the Role of Multilateralism in the New Normal on 12th June 2020. The virtual dialogue can be viewed at


Key Takeaways:

-The pandemic has heightened the cause of multilateralism and the world is currently witnessing a form of subliminal multilateralism.

-For the last two decades, multilateralism has mainly been understood in economic terms, but the impact of the global pandemic on geopolitics and on the international system has reshaped multilateralism. 

-The global pandemic has given way to wider opportunities for multilateralism, multilateral institutions and global cooperation specifically constructive transnational cooperation.

-Multilateralism has multitudinous facets, which is characterized by two basic forms- regional and global multilateralism. The most relevant forms, in the light of the current crisis, is global multilateralism.

-Multilateralism, today, is contested with respect to rules and practices of existing multilateralism institutions. This contested multilateralism encompasses regime shift in the policy space and competitive regime creation wherein new institutions can challenge the status quo.

-The present form of multilateralism is incapable of venting its effect due to the presence of systemic rivals within the international system. It has created a disruption which has forced us to reevaluate our relations within the international system.

-This will result in some countries getting closer to each other and some getting distanced from others.

-Multilateralism in the New Normal can be understood by trend analysis with respect to economic, political and social recovery.

-It is critical to realise that multilateralism is not an end but a means to realise certain objectives and norms.

-In the New Normal, multilateralism will have to emerge stronger in order to upgrade the current system of international governance.

-Human centrism would be the key to gravitate towards multilateralism in the New Normal.

-While the current situation calls for a change in our attitude towards multilateralism, the world needs to address the fundamental problems and work on the aspects of trust, legitimacy and leadership.

-In order to make multilateralism a success, certain measures need to be taken which include resorting to an inward form of multilateralism, engaging with multilateral institutions, addressing the challenges faced by countries, emerging role of non-state actors such as CSOs, NGOs, acting upon the SDGs as well as propagating inclusive governance. There is also the need for creating knowledge-based linkages and networks.

-It is imperative to address the issue of supply chains and global value chains and limit the vulnerabilities. A greater emphasis on self-reliance w.r.t supply chains, is the need of the hour.

-One needs to learn from the shortcomings of the international system and multilateral institutions in mitigating this crisis. There is the need for effective policy decisions which need to be translated into action, especially in the global health sector.

-In the case of India, multilateralism offers remarkable opportunities. India can play an eminent role in scaling up of multilateralism in the New Normal.

-India needs to resuscitate with like-minded actors, shape the alliance and reform the agenda. It also needs to work with developed and developing countries on the matters of health and technology.

-Furthermore, the existing health systems needs to be strengthened. India needs to securitise health issues, build its leadership in the health domain, reform existing health systems and enhance multilateral collaboration.



Peter Rimmele