Three main areas where the challenges to multilateralism can be identified include concepts, methods and institutions.
First, concepts are becoming volatile eroded by problems of global dimension that have to be handled over national borders. Some examples include national sovereignty versus human rights concerns or international criminal justice decisions, environmental and health problems. We have reached the critical level in so far as international public law is concerned.
Second, negotiation methods and techniques do not capture the complexity of modern society. On the one hand, analogies from IT such as open software mode in terms of organization, contributions, negotiation and decision-taking might be better suited to the modern challenges. The negotiation experience from the scientific and technical communities could provide helpful information in learning how to handle those challenges that are not purely political.
Third, the existing institutions do not reflect the increasing role of regionalism and the changing balance of power. The Security Council reform is still being discussed after a few decades, and there is a problem of inadequate voting rights of emerging and African economies in the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, despite recent progress. The rapid emergence of new global players such as BRICS has profound implications on negotiations and international governance. Emerging powers are building alliances and common positions in various international fora. African countries increasingly realize that they can better defend their interests when speaking with one voice.
- The Security Council’s membership and working methods reflect a bygone era. Though geopolitics have changed drastically, the Council has changed relatively little since 1945, when wartime victors crafted a Charter in their interest and awarded “permanent” veto-wielding Council seats for themselves. We need to find ways to make the Council more representative and more legitimate. Membership change requires a difficult process of changing the UN Charter.
- The UN General Assembly(UNGA) can only make non-binding recommendations, which is another reason for ineffectiveness of the UN and another important issue of UN reform.
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