Multilateralism – Is the International Order Hanging by a Thread?


75 years ago, the Charter of the United Nations was signed in San Francisco. It laid the foundation for a new international order based on the ideal of institutionalised cooperation. Cooperation instead of confrontation – that was the lesson learnt from the catastrophes of two world wars. How is international cooperation doing today? Is there any truth in all the gloom, all the voices bemoaning the end of the multilateral world order? Why is it important, despite all difficulties and weaknesses, to continue to defend this policy model?

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Content

Multilateralism

  • Editorial

    International Reports 3/2020

    75 years ago, the Charter of the United Nations was signed in San Francisco. It laid the foundation for a new international order based on the ideal of institutionalised cooperation. Cooperation instead of confrontation – that was the lesson learnt from the catastrophes of two world wars. How is international cooperation doing today? Is there any truth in all the gloom, all the voices bemoaning the end of the multilateral world order? Why is it important, despite all difficulties and weaknesses, to continue to defend this policy model?

    by Gerhard Wahlers

  • Tackling Global Challenges

    Why We Still Need Rules- and Values-Based International Cooperation

    We still need international cooperation because global challenges and problems cannot be solved nationally or regionally. Admittedly, issues such as security, finance architecture, free trade, health, and migration must be worked out at the local and national levels, and in the case of climate change also largely implemented at such levels. Nevertheless, comprehensive solutions can be reached only through international cooperation that produces generally accepted processes, e. g. to preserve – or, where necessary, to promote – peace and security.

    by Peter Fischer-Bollin

  • The Future of Multilateralism

    The Liberal Order under Pressure

    The multilateral world order is in deep crisis; indeed, some believe it has reached its end. This belief is based on a number of changes in the political West and power shifts in the inter­national system. What does this mean for the future of multilateralism as we know it? This article addresses this question by examining three trends for future multilateral cooperation.

    by Laura Philipps, Daniela Braun

  • The Relevance of the United Nations

    In a New Era of Global Tensions

    The United Nations’ effectiveness is being weakened by the gradual erosion of its foundation of liberal democratic values and the increasingly confrontational stance of major states with veto power. In many cases, the conflict between the US and China is paralysing UN diplomacy. Although the importance of the United Nations has once again been highlighted by the ­COVID-19 pandemic, 75 years after its inception it is now time to ask what global leadership should look like. But first and foremost, it is now to call on member states and their the political will to work together.

    by Andrea Ellen Ostheimer

  • The End of Certainty

    The Transatlantic Alliance Faces Great Challenges

    ­NATO has multilateralism in its ­DNA. But the principles of multilateralism are currently under pressure. In this difficult environment, the alliance must confront a number of internal and external challenges, from fairer burden-sharing, to strengthening its European pillar, to organising more effective alliance defence.

    by Philipp Dienstbier

  • On the Search for Order in the Middle East and North Africa

    Sub-Regional and Sectoral Multilateralism as an Opportunity

    To date, multilateralism has failed to establish itself as a model in the Middle East and North Africa, yet the major problems that beset the region cannot be solved by one country acting alone. Some forms of multilateral cooperation have emerged at the sub-regional level and in response to specific issues, such as security in the Persian Gulf, economic cooperation in the Maghreb, and natural gas production in the Eastern Mediterranean. Europe should support such initiatives as they have the potential to bridge the region’s geopolitical divides.

    by Michael Bauer, Edmund Ratka

  • Bleak Prospects?

    Multilateral Cooperation in Latin America

    All Latin American countries have extensive historical experience with multilateral cooperation, but willingness to engage in regional and international efforts greatly depends on individual governments’ policies and the degree of public interest. Although language, religion, and form of government are the same across almost all of these countries, this commonality has thus far contributed little to establishing effective Latin American multilateralism.

    by Winfried Weck, Teresa Marten

  • The Path into the Community of Destiny with China

    Challenges for Multilateralism in Southeast Asia

    China and the US have both declared war on multilateralism, albeit with different motivations. For regional associations such as ­ASEAN, this enmity is becoming an existential threat. The coronavirus crisis has given new urgency to the discussion of concepts for pandemic resistance. But the principle of unanimity will have to be jettisoned along the way.

    by Daniel Schmücking, Christian Echle

  • The Trojan Horse of Multilateralism

    Why Authoritarian Regimes Favour International Cooperation While Simultaneously Undermining It

    Everyone today is talking about multilateralism, and politicians of almost every stripe are averring the importance of multilateral organisations. Nevertheless, the liberal world order, of which multilateral cooperation is an important foundation, is in what may be its most severe crisis. This article will address this crisis and illustrate what must be done to revive the commitment to multilateralism.

    by Olaf Wientzek, Sebastian Enskat, M.A.

  • Multilateral Approaches in Cyberspace

    What is the Likelihood of an Internet Governance Regime?

    With increasing digitalisation, there is an increased need for internet regulation to protect human rights and democratic principles. Given the growing restrictions on the digital space imposed by authoritarian states, global efforts to protect the original free and open character of the internet, while counteracting fragmentation and restriction of fundamental rights, must be supported.

    by Christina Bellmann

Other Topics

  • Youth Revolution or Identity-Forming Movement?

    An Anatomy of Mass Protests in Iraq

    The emergence of a common Iraqi identity has always been hampered by the great heterogeneity in the population. However, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have united in repeated protests, the largest since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. Meanwhile, the elites are attempting to hold on to as much of their power as possible.

    by Gregor Jaecke, David Labude, Regina Frieser

About this series

This periodical responds to questions concerning international issues, foreign policy and development cooperation. It is aimed at access of information about the international work for public and experts.

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Editor

Dr. Gerhard Wahlers

ISBN

0177-7521

Benjamin Gaul

Benjamin Gaul

Head of International Reports and Communication

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Samuel Krug

Samuel Krug 2020

Editor in chief International reports

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Louisa Heuss

Louisa Heuss (2020)

Desk Officer for Communication and Marketing

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