Multilateralism January 2024

Written by  //  April 18, 2024  //  Multilateralism  //  No comments

International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace, 24 April
What is multilateralism? Multilateralism is often defined in opposition to bilateralism and unilateralism. Strictly speaking, it indicates a form of cooperation between at least three States.
As the most representative international organization and the utmost expression of multilateralism, the United Nations is the main instrument to address multifaceted and complex global challenges through collective action.
The purpose of multilateralismA framework for democracies in a geopolitically competitive world —Will Moreland (Brookings September 2019)

18 April
G7 foreign ministers meet on Capri amid Israel-Iran tensions
Foreign ministers of the Group of Seven (G7) economic powers are meeting on the Italian Mediterranean island of Capri. Tensions in the Middle East and aid to Ukraine amid a Russian invasion will be major topics.
(DW) The meeting of G7 foreign ministers on Capri will discuss a response to Tehran’s attack on Israel last weekend as fears of a wider Middle East conflict grow.
The meeting, which ends on Friday, is also to look at ways of aiding Ukraine to defend itself against Russia’s unprovoked invasion of its territory.

5 April
ASEAN finance leaders end meetings in Laos, pointing to challenges from geopolitics, volatile prices
(AP) Estimates for economic growth in members of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations vary but are generally near a robust 5% for 2024.
“…there are still challenges due to adverse financial spillovers from geopolitical tensions, volatility in global commodity prices,” [Laos Finance Minister Santiphab] Phomvihane said, also pointing to climate change, aging populations and rapid development of digitalization as key factors for the region.

3-4 April
NATO at 75: ‘The most powerful and successful alliance in history’
By Christopher Skaluba, Philippe Dickinson, and Dominykas Kaminskas
(Atlantic Council) History was made in the unimaginatively named Departmental Auditorium. That is the Washington, DC, room where, seventy-five years ago today, the North Atlantic Treaty was signed by representatives from twelve nations. The Alliance the treaty created, NATO, was born following two destructive world wars and a reasonable fear that Soviet aggression might soon set off a third. The Alliance sought to establish peace at a moment when such a notion seemed almost rebellious.
Seventy-five years is a long time. Long enough, at least, to take some things for granted. It’s reasonable to claim that this applies to the Alliance and the peace that it has helped ensure for its members for seventy-five years. NATO is nowadays seen as such a staple of the security architecture in the North Atlantic that even its members sometimes forget to reflect on just how powerful, diverse, and foundational to the modern world it has become.
NATO turns 75. Will it make it to 80?
(GZERO media) Through the Cold War, NATO had a clear mission to deter the Soviet Bloc. But as the Warsaw Pact and then the Soviet Union itself collapsed in 1991, what would become of the alliance?
Instead of guarding against Eastern Europe, NATO began absorbing former Soviet bloc countries and protecting the liberal democratic order more generally. In March 1999, the alliance welcomed Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary — and initiated a bombing campaign that ended the Serbian invasion of Kosovo.
Then, in 2001, the alliance’s mutual defense clause was invoked for the first time in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the US, leading to the multilateral International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. By 2004, another seven former Soviet and Warsaw Pact countries had joined.
Today, NATO has expanded to 32 countries with over 3.3 million active troops, 1 million armored vehicles, 20,000 aircraft, and 2,100 warships, all backed by the US, French, and British nuclear arsenals — without question the most powerful military force ever assembled.
Yet despite its strength, the alliance is beset by anxiety over its future. Should Donald Trump win reelection in November, planners from Ottawa to Ankara worry he will hollow out the alliance’s core and expose members to Russian predation while abandoning Ukraine to the cruel fate of partition, or worse.
The upside? Europeans are starting to get more serious about protecting themselves. The invasion of Ukraine spurred a 13% increase in defense spending in Europe 2022, and Sweden and Finland, both of which punch above their weight militarily, to join NATO. Most pressingly, NATO is working on a $100 billion fund to keep Ukraine in the fight — money Trump 2.0 couldn’t touch. (NATO to plan long-term Ukraine aid, mulls 100-billion euro fund)

28 March
The G7 needs a permanent secretariat. The 2024 elections cycle demonstrates why.
(Atlantic Council) This “year of elections” has the potential to reshape global politics. At first glance, among the Group of Seven (G7) nations, there are only general elections scheduled in the United States and the European Union (EU). However, it is widely expected that the United Kingdom and Japan will likewise hold general elections this year, with multiple EU member states joining them, too.
These elections could change the foreign policy trajectory of the G7, even if key players such as US President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen retain their seats. At the same time, the G7 faces a slew of challenges. Among these are the emergence of a new “axis” among Russia, Iran, and North Korea, as well as the continued strategic challenge posed by China. There is also the potential for current progress on climate action to be derailed by climate-skeptic populist governments. Amid all of these challenges and more, the G7 must be able to continue its work as “a steering committee for the free world,” as US national security adviser Jake Sullivan described it.
To ensure the G7 stays the course amid potential future political upheavals, pools its staff resources, and develops a separate policymaking capacity alongside its presidency, it must commit to establishing a permanent secretariat.
In many ways, the G7 is already drifting toward establishing a permanent secretariat. The days in which the G7 was solely a “fly-in, fly-out” summit series ended with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, as G7 members made regular contact with each other to develop global health policy and address the global economic slowdown. This dynamic was further reinforced when G7 leaders held emergency meetings to coordinate their responses to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Nevertheless, as global security continues to deteriorate, from the emergence of the “coup belt” in Africa’s Sahel region to the twin threats of the Israel-Hamas war and Red Sea crisis, the G7 must maintain political inertia to head off these dangers. Meanwhile, the current G7 contact structures are insufficient for the tasks at hand.
A permanent G7 secretariat would offer several important benefits. Firstly, with the numerous elections taking place in 2024, policy continuity after changes in government will be vital for global security. This dynamic is especially visible with the growing debates in the US Congress over aid to Ukraine, Taiwan, and Israel. While a secretariat would not necessarily guarantee such aid, it would partially institutionalize such policies.

20 March
The Indo-Pacific Strategy’s Fatal Blind Spot
Carl Bildt
The Indo-Pacific narrative has its merits, and will undoubtedly remain important for shaping policies to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century. The problem is that it threatens to distract Western leaders from an alternative framework – the Eurasian alliance of Russia and China – whose immediate relevance is undeniable.
(Project Syndicate) In pushing the Indo-Pacific line, Western strategists usually emphasize the importance of bringing India into the fold. But the real objective – though it is seldom stated explicitly – is to contain China in the region. The Indo-Pacific narrative undoubtedly has merits. It rests on a strong historical foundation, and the policies it has inspired are important for meeting many looming global challenges. The problem is that it also threatens to distract us from an equally important alternative narrative: the Eurasian one. Which is more immediately relevant to the challenges the West faces? While the Indo-Pacific framework has an obvious maritime foundation – framing the Indian and Pacific Oceans as the single most important geopolitical theater – the Eurasian one is almost completely terrestrial.
… Western strategic thinking urgently needs to adapt. Not only have China and Russia announced a “no-limits” partnership; they also happen to dominate the vast Eurasian landmass. Though there remain significant differences between the two powers – not to mention a sometimes-fierce historical rivalry – they are now united by a common determination to revise both the regional and the wider global order.

19 March
Advancing Summit for Democracy commitments: Progress and paths forward
The third Summit for Democracy (S4D3) kicked off this week in Seoul, South Korea amid global declines in democracy and the resurgence of authoritarian tendencies
(Brookings) The third Summit for Democracy (S4D3) in Seoul, Republic of Korea convened this week with a backdrop of serious and arguably worsening challenges to democracies globally. It’s imperative that this multilateral forum taking place in Seoul delivers on its ambitions to strengthen democratic institutions, reverse consequential backsliding globally, and tackle thorny problems, including corruption.

22 February
Brazil puts reform of UN at heart of its G20 presidency
International bodies are gripped by paralysis, Brazil tells meeting of foreign ministers, while David Cameron blasts ‘Putin and his cronies’
(The Guardian) Brazil has put the Bermuda triangle of international diplomacy – reform of the United Nations and other multilateral bodies – at the heart of its presidency of the G20, arguing that the war in Gaza and shifts in the economic power balance finally make change possible.
A two-day meeting of G20 foreign ministers in Rio de Janeiro heard a blunt attack by the UK foreign secretary, David Cameron, on the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, over the invasion of Ukraine.
But Brazil said it was trying to steer the G20 away from blame games to solutions. Brazil’s top diplomat, Mauro Vieira, said the explosion of global conflicts showed that international institutions such as the UN suffered from paralysis.

16-18 February
Munich Security Conference 2024
The Munich Security Conference (MSC) 2024 will once again offer an unique opportunity for high-level debates on the world’s most pressing security challenges. Additionally, the MSC, founded in the fall of 1963, will celebrate its 60th anniversary up to and during the next main conference.
The Backstory: The United States and NATO
(Foreign Affairs) With world leaders, diplomats, and military officials gathering in Munich this weekend for an annual security conference, European defense is top of mind. The war in Ukraine shows no sign of stopping, but much-needed aid for the country has stalled in the U.S. Congress, thanks to opposition from Republicans. Moreover, last weekend at a campaign rally, former U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to not protect NATO allies in the event of a Russian attack. Collective defense—the idea that an attack on one is an attack on all—is the core provision of the NATO alliance. But if fellow NATO members did not meet their defense spending targets, Trump said, he would encourage the Russians to do “whatever the hell they want.” His words sent shock waves throughout Europe; Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary-general of NATO, warned that Trump’s comments threatened to “undermine the credibility of NATO’s deterrence.”
Strains and divisions within NATO have always existed and, as Dean Acheson wrote in a 1963 essay, were inevitable from the start.
The Practice of Partnership
By Dean Acheson
Published on January 1, 1963
Ukraine’s Allies Are Gaming Out a World in Which the US Retreats
Leaders, defense officials met at Munich security conference
Stalled US aid to Ukraine added to the meeting’s pessimism
By Natalia Drozdiak, Courtney McBride, and Arne Delfs
(Bloomberg) NATO members now talk privately about a Russian attack on one of them as a danger that demands an urgent response, as they grow to doubt that the US will maintain its traditional role of protecting Europe as part of the alliance.
On Friday President Joe Biden did his best to rule out the word ‘panic,’ but in tip-toeing around it did more than anyone else to describe Europe’s mood.
Munich security talks marked by global ‘lose-lose’ anxiety.
(BBC) It’s called the Munich Rule: engage and interact; don’t lecture or ignore one another.
But this year, at the 60th Munich Security Conference (MSC), two of the most talked-about people weren’t even here.
The MSC’s annual report warned that it could give rise to “lose-lose” dynamics among governments, “a downwards spiral that jeopardises co-operation and undermines the existing international order”.
“I think this has been the conference of a disordered world,” reflected David Miliband, the CEO and president of the International Rescue Committee (IRC).
“It’s a world dominated by impunity, where the guardrail stabilisers are not working and that’s why there’s so much disorder, not just in Ukraine and in Gaza and Israel, but more widely in places like Sudan, whose humanitarian crisis isn’t even getting on the agenda,” he said.
China foreign minister warns against decoupling at Munich Security Conference
(Reuters) – Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi warned the West that it would be making a historical mistake if it sought to decouple from China in the interests of reducing risk.
“Whoever tries de-sinicization in the name of de-risking would be making a historical mistake,” Wang said in a speech on Saturday at the Munich Security Conference.
His comments came amid calls over the last year from the United States and the European Union to reduce their dependence on China.
16 February
Navalny’s wife makes a dramatic appearance at a conference in Munich.
Peter Baker, chief White House correspondent
(NYT) Just hours after her husband was reported dead, Yulia Navalnaya made a dramatic, surprise appearance at a gathering of world leaders in Munich on Friday. Taking the stage, she denounced President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and vowed that he and his circle “will be brought to justice.”
The diplomats and political leaders at the Munich Security Conference were already reeling from reports that her husband, Aleksei A. Navalny, the Russian dissident, had died in prison under suspicious circumstances when Ms. Navalny stunned the hall by striding in. Conference organizers quickly wrapped up a session with Vice President Kamala Harris and turned the microphone over to Ms. Navalnaya.
… Ms. Navalnaya spoke clearly and calmly, with remarkable composure, her face etched with evident pain but under complete control. Standing at the lectern, she clasped her hands in front of her and stared straight ahead as if willing herself to focus on her message.
The audience was captivated and gave her an emotional standing ovation when she finished.
In the annals of international meetings, it would be hard to remember a more riveting moment, when the careful scripts of government leaders laden with diplomatic jargon fall to the wayside as life-and-death questions play out so intensely in front of them.
Ian Bremmer: Navalny’s death is a message to the West
Putin, the Kremlin responsible, of course, and also a direct message. I think it’s very clear to show the West to show the United States, to show NATO they can do what they want. They can act with impunity on their territory. They do not care if they are threatened. And a couple of years on the Russian position, despite all of the economic damage they’ve taken, all of the military damage they’ve taken is that they will continue to engage in this war [Ukraine]. They will continue to engage in human rights abuses. And it doesn’t matter how the Americans or Europeans respond. The Russians will wait them out.
And that is the message that is being sent today. It’s a very chilling message.
…ultimately, in an environment where rogue states feel like they have more ability to act on the global stage, Russia, Iran, North Korea, the so-called axis of resistance, terrorist actors, you will see more of this behavior. So the question is being put to the Munich Security Conference. Question is being put to NATO. Will you continue to work collectively? Will you take a stand against this sort of behavior? And Putin is watching that answer very, very carefully.
Pressure builds on Israel to ditch Rafah offensive as ministers gather in Munich
US secretary of state and foreign ministers from UK, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar and Jordan join Israel at security conference
Western leaders are hoping a round of meetings at a security conference in Munich will put overwhelming pressure on Israel not to press ahead with a ground offensive in Rafah.
Almost all the key figures, save the Iranian foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, will be present in Munich on Friday, including foreign ministers from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar and Jordan. The Israeli president, Isaac Herzog, and foreign minister, Israel Katz, will also attend along with three freed hostages, Raz Ben Ami, Adi Shoham and Aviva Siegel. Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, is flying in too.
The pressure on Israel to avoid a ground offensive is coming from almost all quarters, including allies such as the US, UK, France, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The shadow of a return to the international court of justice and a further Algerian-sponsored UN security council resolution is looming over Israel.

14 February
Ian Bremmer: Munich Security Conference 2024 –What to expect
(GZERO) …the value of the conference is becoming undermined. And it’s becoming undermined not because it doesn’t matter, but rather because leaders are less committed to it.
And that is a very deep concern. There’s no annual theme to this year’s conference, but every year they do put out an annual report. Came out a couple of days ago, and the theme this year was “lose-lose” dynamics. In other words, less focus on multilateralism, less focus on collective security, less focus on global cooperation and instead a prioritization of individual gain of countries and even of leaders. And that’s not a great backdrop against a incredibly contentious US election, a war between Russia-Ukraine that isn’t going very well, certainly not from the perspective of those that are attending the security conference and also a Middle East war that is expanding and threatens to get the Europeans and the Americans more and more involved. A couple of things that are worth paying attention to that may not be getting as much attention outside Germany.
4 things to know about the Munich Security Conference

NATO’s Trump problem
Ian Bremmer
(GZEROmedia) Former president and likely Republican nominee Donald Trump caused a ruckus across the pond over the weekend when he said that he would encourage Russia to attack any NATO member falling short on their defense spending goals (2% of GDP or more). Predictably, this got America’s European allies, most of whom were already pretty agitated about the prospect of a second Trump presidency, decidedly panicky.
It’s easy to see why. During his first term in the White House, Trump repeatedly threatened to pull back from longstanding US security commitments to NATO as a lever to force European allies to shoulder more of the financial burden of their defense and to secure favorable trade concessions. His latest remarks are the first, however, explicitly encouraging Russia – a country openly hostile to NATO and currently leading a war of aggression in Ukraine – to attack other NATO members. Despite significant increases in defense spending since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, European allies are still largely dependent on US military capabilities to maintain credible deterrence. If Trump were to act on his threats at a time when war is raging on Europe’s doorstep, Ukraine’s prospects for victory are shrinking, and Russia’s expansionist appetite remains unsated, Europe would find itself in an unenviable position.
At the same time, there is a point beneath Trump’s threats. It is indeed the case that most of the largest NATO economies – including Germany, France, Italy, and Spain – have been underinvesting in their own defense for decades, confident that the “peace dividend” would last forever or else that they could free-ride on the US security guarantee indefinitely…despite continued pleas from US presidents of both parties for them to become more co-equal partners in European security.

1 February
NATO Climate Change and Security Centre of Excellence to open in Montréal: What does it mean for Canadian security?
(The Conversation) This year Montréal is set to become the home for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s new Climate Change and Security Centre of Excellence (CCASCOE). The CCASCOE, as the name would suggest, is set to provide specific expertise on the environment and the impacts of climate change for NATO security.
12 July 2023
NATO Climate Change and Security Centre of Excellence
(Global Affairs Canada) At the July 2023 NATO Summit in Vilnius, Canada’s Minister of National Defence, the Honourable Anita Anand and representatives from 11 other Sponsoring Nations signed the founding document of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Climate Change and Security Centre of Excellence. The Centre will open in Montréal later in 2023.

26 January
A New Economic-Policy Agenda for Asia
Hoe Ee Khor and Runchana Pongsaparn
(Project Syndicate) …lower growth, higher inflation, and more public debt – which surged from around 93% of GDP, on average, in 2019 to 100% in 2022 in ASEAN+3 economies – makes unwinding them difficult.
… ASEAN+3 policymakers must also address longer-term structural challenges. Greater regional integration is essential, as it would increase countries’ resilience to the forces of fragmentation, reinforce efforts to mitigate climate change, and improve efficiency and productivity through faster digitalization. Some countries might need infrastructure development, labor-market reforms, industrial policies, regulatory changes, and a concerted effort to boost foreign direct investment and trade.

24 January
Non-Aligned Movement Reaffirms Multilateralism, Inclusive Trading System
In the Kampala Declaration, member countries commit to strengthening the UN as the primary multilateral organization and reaffirm their commitment to contribute positively to the Summit of the Future in September, “to enhance cooperation on critical challenges and address gaps in global governance”.
They support the reform of the international financial architecture, for the international financial system to be fit-for-purpose and help developing countries better address the current multiple crises, and commit to “work towards achieving a universal, rule-based, open, transparent, predictable, inclusive, fair, non-discriminatory, and equitable multilateral trading system”.
Member countries of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) – a bloc of 120 developing countries championing international peace and security and a steady global recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic – have agreed to make joint efforts to realize the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) through development cooperation, acceleration of SDG investments, and reform of the international financial architecture, among other actions.
Non Aligned Movement Summit final Document- Kampala Declaration
19 –20 January 2024
We,the Heads of State and Government, gathered at the 19th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Non-Aligned Movement, held in Kampala, Republic of Uganda, on 19 –20 January, 2024, under the theme, “Deepening Cooperation for Shared Global Affluence”, reviewed progress made in the implementation of the outcomes of the XVIII Summit of the Movement, held in Baku, Republic of Azerbaijan, on 25 –26 October, 2019, and considered new and emerging challenges and issues of concern to NAM Member States and the broader international community….

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