Multilateralism & UN system Notes for UPSC

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Multilateralism notes upsc

Multilateralism & UN system

Present challenges for Multilateralism

  1. World is witnessing a retreat from M.L—Challenge coming from its main stakeholders-
  2. Nationalistic turn in global politics– Rise of populist Right
  3. Protectionism—BREXIT, “America First”
  4. Treaty withdrawals
  5. WTO stagnation
  6. Failure of M.L inst evident from—Syrian & Libyan crisis, Covid-19
  7. Disillusionment with globalisation– Rise of bilateral & minilaterals
  8. Multilateral challenges are in surplus, but there is not enough multilateralism to address them
  9. Corona is reminder of fragility in M.L

Why strains in Multilateralism?

  • Macron declared “brain-death” of NATO & pointed to the fragility of Europe.
  • Backlashes with globalisation—Scapegoating of Into trade for inequality, job losses etc
  • Inadequacy of existing multilateral rules to meet new challenges.
  • China’s meteoric rise & its expansionism

Henry Farrell & Abe Newman mentions about “weaponized interdependence”— to highlight the use of global economic networks for geostrategic purposes.

Way ahead—

  • Multilateralism needs a brand new narrative with global Appeal + Renegotiation of multilateral inst


  • Amb Manjeev S. Puri—M.L is under unprece­dented stress due to CO­VID­-19 & dis­enchantment with Glb. But for global action there are no substitutes for M.L
  • Hardeep S. Puri (Perilous Interventions: The Security Council & Politics of Chaos) —Shameless pursuit of narrowly defined interests is most often the motivation in world of M.L diplomacy.
  • Antonio Guterres—
  • World have a surplus of M.L challenges but the deficit of M.L so­lutions
  • Labelled the present peak­ing of geopolitical tensions as a “great fracture”.
  • “A bad case of Trust deficit disorder” 
  • Syed Akbaruddin—Multilateralism post COVID­-19—> Issue­ specific ‘coalitions of willing’, ‘Pluri­later­als’ & ‘mini­laterals’ are likely to increase—India needs to avail such avenues.
  • PM Modi—“Path to achieve sustainable peace & prosperity” is through M.L—“Only reformed M.L with a reformed UN at its centre can meet aspirations of hu­manity”
  • C. Rajamohan— 
  • India should now shape the global discourse as its past efforts during C.W underlines the possibilities 
  • Leverage M.L to serve our interests.Ex—Delhi used FATF to mount pressure on Pak  
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India’s Position to Multilateralism

  1. “Whole hearted co-op” to M.L, RBIO UN, UNPK
  • Distinguished history in UN
  • BRICS, NDB, ISA, CDRI, G-4 (UNSC reform)
  • Built Maritime M.L inst like IORA & IONS
  • Joined European alliance for M.L

Way forward

  • C. Rajamohan—Calls for a “New M.L”—Radical restructuring of inst like UN, WT
  • Rajiv Bhatia—Devg countries need a say in global order & that can come only through Reformed M.L
  • Shyam Saran—Given the scale, urgency & se­riousness of global challenges—we need maximal, not minimal M.L—M.L is needed as an expression of intl soli­darity
  • Need for a more democratic M.L as Covid-19 has shown “no country will be safe until all countries are safe…so we really need to work together.”

United Nations

  • Nehru—“Even if UN did not do anyth­ing wonderful, the mere fact of UN itself has been of great significance to the world”

Brochure on India’s priority at UNSC for 8th term—

  • India’s approach will be guided by “5 S’s”—Samman (Respect), Samvad (Dialogue), Sahyog (Co-op), Shanti (Peace), Samriddhi (Prosperity)
  • Overall objective—Achievement of NORMS: New Orientation for a Reformed Multilateral System.
  • Committed to— M.L, RoL, A fair & equitable intl system
  • Key priorites for India—
  • Reformed multilateralism
  • Effective response to Intl terrorism
  • A comprehensive approach to Intl peace & security
  • Bringing professionalism in UN Peacekeeping.
  • Maritime security
  • Counter terrorism
  • Peacekeeping

What should India aim to do?

In present times of “Leadership crisis” in Liberal world order, India needs to undo its image of being a ‘Fence-sitter’ & should take the lead for strengthening the multilateral & RBIO

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Modi’s 5 principle framework for Maritime security at UNSC

  1. Removing barriers to maritime trade– SAGAR
  2. Peaceful resolution of maritime disputes in acc with Intl law
  3. Countries shd jointly tackle maritime threats from NSAs& natural disasters.
  4. Conservation of Maritime Env & marine resources
  5. Responsible maritime connectivity