This article covers “Daily Current Affairs” and the Topic details “Multilateralism”. The Topic “Multilateralism” has relevance in the International Relations section of the UPSC CSE exam.

For Prelims:

About Multilateralism?

For Mains:

GS 2: International Relations

Key multilateral organisations that play a significant role?

Some key reasons why multilateralism is crucial?

Significant challenges?

Way Forward?


Why in the news:

Multilateralism, as we knew it in the post-Cold War era, has reached a turning point, with signs of decline evident at both the global and regional levels. This week’s East Asia Summit in Jakarta and the G20 summit in Delhi underscore the profound and possibly irreversible challenges facing the traditional multilateral framework.


About Multilateralism: 

Multilateralism is a diplomatic approach in international relations where multiple countries collaborate to address common challenges or achieve shared objectives. It involves the participation of three or more countries and often includes engagement from other actors, such as civil society or the private sector. Multilateralism is built on foundational principles like consultation, inclusivity, and solidarity.


Key multilateral organisations that play a significant role in addressing global issues include:

  • United Nations (UN): Established in October 1945, the UN comprises 193 member states and is dedicated to addressing a wide range of global problems. Its focus areas include peace and security, sustainable development, human rights, humanitarian assistance, gender equality, and more.
  • World Health Organization (WHO): Founded in April 1948, WHO operates on the premise that health is a fundamental human right. It strives to ensure that all individuals attain the highest possible physical, mental, and social well-being, not just the absence of disease or infirmity.
  • Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD): Established in 1961, OECD succeeds the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation and is a global organization dedicated to shaping policies that promote prosperity, equal opportunities, and overall well-being for all.


Some key reasons why multilateralism is crucial:

  • Global Challenges: Contemporary global challenges, such as climate change, poverty, inequality, and migration, are complex and transcend national borders. These issues affect rich and poor countries, and their solutions require coordinated efforts globally.
  • Climate Change and Migration: The impact of climate change is expected to lead to significant migration in regions like Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, and Southeast Asia. Multilateral cooperation is essential to mitigate the effects of climate change and manage migration flows effectively.
  • Emerging Threats: Natural disasters, terrorism, cyber warfare, and health pandemics are rising. Multilateral collaboration is critical for preparedness, response, and prevention in the face of these growing challenges.
  • Poverty and Inequality: Multidimensional poverty exists not only in low-income countries but also in middle-income countries. Addressing poverty and inequality globally necessitates collective action and cooperation among nations.
  • Social Inclusion: In regions like South Asia, a significant portion of the population is at risk of poverty or social exclusion. Multilateral efforts can promote social inclusion and support vulnerable populations.
  • Maintaining Peace and Prosperity: Multilateralism has been fundamental in maintaining peace and prosperity since the end of World War II. International organisations like the United Nations have played a central role in preventing conflicts and promoting stability.
  • Financial Stability: Multilateral cooperation has been critical in addressing global financial crises and promoting international financial stability. Institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) work to stabilize the global economy through multilateral efforts.


Multilateralism is currently facing significant challenges:

  • Waning Support: There is a decline in widespread support for multilateralism, with some countries showing less enthusiasm for international cooperation. This reduced commitment hinders the effectiveness of multilateral efforts.
  • Growing Chauvinism: Nationalism and chauvinistic tendencies are rising in some parts of the world. These tendencies prioritize individual national interests over collective global well-being, undermining the spirit of cooperation.
  • Protectionism: Protectionist policies and trade barriers are being erected by some nations, hindering global trade and economic cooperation. 
  • Impact on Developing Countries: The challenges directly affect the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable, especially in developing countries. These nations often rely on international cooperation and assistance to address their pressing issues.
  • Decreased Funding: While Official Development Assistance (ODA) funding to multilateral development organisations had been increasing in previous years, there is a risk that this trend could reverse due to rising mistrust in multilateralism. Reduced funding can limit these organisations’ capacity to address global challenges effectively.


Way forward:

  • Engaging all stakeholders beyond governments.
  • Utilizing technology and social media for transparency and communication.
  • Adapting to address 21st-century challenges.
  • Prioritizing shared values, especially human dignity.
  • Building resilient communities and promoting social equality.
  • Strengthening accountability, transparency, and inclusivity.
  • Forming a global compact involving all parties.
  • Amplifying the voices of marginalized groups.




Q.1 Consider the following Characteristics of :

  1. Globalisation
  2. Consultation
  3. Chauvinism
  4. Protectionism

How many of the above are Characteristics of Multilateralism?

(a) Only one 

(b) Only two 

(c) Only three 

(d) All four

Q.2 Discuss the significance of multilateralism in India’s foreign policy and its role in addressing contemporary global challenges.

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