Multilateral Institutions seem increasingly unable to provide shared, fair and effective solutions to today’s common needs, while newly-created organizations compete with them. What are the root causes of the current crisis of the global liberal order? How could this impact international trade and economic growth, as well as international and regional security? How can multilateralism be defended and re-launched?
These issues were at the core of the ISPI Forum, an annual event aimed at providing a platform for high-level debates on key geopolitical and economic issues. The 2019 edition focused on “The Future of Multilateralism”, and was also intended as a step towards the Italian presidency of the G20 in 2021.
The ISPI Forum was opened by the President of the Italian Republic Sergio Mattarella on October 3rd and hosted a Senior Expert Meeting on October 4th, bringing together over 20 representatives from leading think tanks worldwide. The Forum was organised with the support of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and in cooperation with BMW Group (official partner) and Pirelli (partner).
Key comments, takeaways and results are presented in the Senior Expert Meeting Report.
Multilateralism Today - Rationale Behind the Retreat
Multilateralism is at the core of the liberal order that emerged after WWII and has played a key role in maintaining peace and prosperity worldwide for over seventy years. Nonetheless, it is now facing an unprecedented crisis with old and new world powers challenging its values, aims, processes and Institutions. Where do we stand in the current retreat of multilateralism? Why do multilateral Institutions seem increasingly unable to provide shared, equitable and effective solutions to today’s common needs? Is there still room for these Institutions to tackle today’s complexity? Will recently-launched organizations substitute or complement the old ones?
The Retreat of Multilateralism: What Should Africa Do?
by Elizabeth Sidiropoulos, SAIIA
For developing countries multilateralism with the UN at its centre, is considered a key pillar of the global system because it provides for an order, not determined by might but by a set of rules that apply to all – even if the powerful often have more latitude than smaller countries. Multilateralism’s current retreat necessitates a proactive strategy from developing countries to be co-shapers of a new system.
The Retreat of Multilateralism - The Unknowns of Global Security
The current multilateral security system seems unable to work effectively, torn between the paralysis of the United Nations and emerging regional arrangements. Will the global security system be able to reform itself and cope with rising geopolitical tensions and new challenges (e.g. cyberwarfare, AI etc.)? Will great powers support multilateral institutions, or will they be tempted to act unilaterally? Do regional security agreements add to the chaos or contribute to maintaining peace?
From Responsibility to Protect to Non-Interference: Human Rights in the Multilateral Security System
by Anthony Dworkin, European Council on Foreign Relations
Much of the current framework for the multilateral protection of human rights can be traced back to the 1990s and early 2000s. At that time, the most serious challenge for human rights advocates seemed to be finding a way for international actors to intervene when ethnic violence within a state led to mass atrocities. Against a background of the dominance of the Western liberal democratic powers in international politics, the pressing questions were about political will and the legitimacy and mechanisms of international action. The solutions that emerged were the doctrine of a “responsibility to protect”, which gave a license for international action on internal atrocities, and the rise of international criminal justice, centred on the International Criminal Court (ICC). Two decades on, much has changed.
The Retreat of Multilateralism - The Unknowns of Global Economy
Ten years after the global financial crisis, the world is left with unprecedented levels of debt and is experiencing a trade war between the US and China, amid downward revisions of global economic prospects. How to escape the fate of a new global recession? How to reform and relaunch multilateral economic Institutions – particularly the WTO and the IMF – to make them more effective and fairer to emerging countries?
The Retreat of Multilateralism - The Unknowns of Global Economy
by Akshay Mathur, Gateway House India
Since the trans-Atlantic financial crisis, there has been a consistent focus on giving more voice and vote to emerging powers such as China and India, as well as to developing countries. The concerted effort of the G20 has therefore resulted in a reform of the International Monetary Fund which has led to a distinct shift in voting powers, especially to China. What has received less attention, however, is how can the priorities and concerns of the emerging and developing markets be better reflected on the global governance agenda. For instance, addressing the lack of transparency, data, monitoring, efficiency and stability of the financial system has not received due attention. Here are some examples.
Brexit and Finance: Brace for No Impact?
by Nicolas Véron, PIIE and Bruegel
Amid the daily high drama of Brexit, it is easy to lose track of the structural shifts, or lack thereof, that may be associated with the UK’s possible departure from the European Union. One of them, and not the least, is the potential impact on the European and global financial system. London is currently the undisputed financial hub of Europe of the broader region encompassing the Middle East and Africa; together with New York, it is one of the two still-leading financial centers worldwide, despite the ongoing rise of Asia and especially China. How does an event as momentous as Brexit interfere with this critical regional and global role of the United Kingdom?
Beyond the Unknowns - Which Rules for the XXI Century
In ancient Greek, “crisis” means both “turning point” and “decision”. Can the current crisis of multilateralism become a turning point contributing to relaunching international institutions? Which actors are willing and able to write the rules for the XXI century? Which principles and values should inspire them?
The G20 Second Decade: The Future of Global Governance
by Julia Pomares, CIPPEC
After turning 10 in the Southern Cone and celebrating anniversary in Buenos Aires, G20 started its second decade of life in Osaka. The G20 was born to deal with the economic crisis and succeeded in the challenge. It was successful in handling the global financial crisis of 2008–2009 and containing its aftershocks. However, despite the importance of today’s global challenges, the world does not seem to perceive them with the same sense of urgency. And the tenth anniversary was marked by the tense trade relations between China and the United States and increasing new challenges such as regulating artificial intelligence or crypto-currencies. Climate change, the distribution of the costs and benefits of trade and technology, and inequality, among many others, are global challenges that create negative externalities.