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What Ails Global Multilateralism: Prognosis and Way Forward

Published in 2020

Abstract Global multilateralism is under siege and is in urgent need forreform. The inadequate success of multilateral institutions in fulfilling their objectives and the absence of transparency in operations have been matters of grave concern. Inadequate representation to nations of current geopolitical and economic and military power equations has worsened the situation. The US-China rivalry on the international stage adds to the raging discontent.

The arrival of Covid-19 pandemic has brought the inadequacies of the global multilateralism into sharp focus. The conduct and performance of the WHO during the emergence and spread of the crisis is under scrutiny. The G20 response to the pandemic was also seen to be inadequate compared to the coordinated and effective response at the time of the global financial crisis of 2008.

Unilateralism has gone too far and has been tasting success. It may be time for multilateral forces to assert. G20, as the most representative international grouping of major countries, has a major role in restoring the of multilateralism. A permanent solution will require emphasis on the critical roleof multilateralism and a powerful counter narrative to unilateralism.

The weaknesses of the multilateral system have been further exposed by the Covid-19 pandemic and this provides an opportunity for the G20 to address the issue with a sense of urgency. India can use its presidency in 2022 to take this campaign forward, and hopefully, nearer to a conclusion.

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