Pandemic Forging the Forgotten Multilateralism

 Imdad Hussain

The recent outbreak of corona virus allegedly emanating from Wuhan, a city in China, has forced the global leaders to rethink of forgotten multilateralism in international relations. Multilateralism is a process in which at least more than two governments interact to resolve a problem or a crisis. This is exactly opposite of unilateralism, where a state acts without regard to interest of other states. In the former states behave in a way that is inclusive; takes into account the interest of the world community.

Multilateralism took its flight soon after the creation of the global forum: UN. The founders of the UN aimed at to create a peaceful world order by saving the coming generation from the scourge of war and other catastrophes. Global leaders along with the global body promoted the cause and encouraged nations to act globally to save the world from a disaster. However, UN could not effectively function during the middle of 20th century owing to the highhandedness of the members of Security Council and the power of veto, too, obstructed multilateralism. In contrast, the later part of the century, with the advent of globalization, multilateralism again started making inroads. Cooperation at regional and international level was pushed to make an integrated world. This endeavor, however, partially succeeded but the fruits of global and regional cooperation were pocketed by the global one percent: elites.

The dawn of the twenty-first century proved a blessing to the phenomenon of globalization, as during this period world was making colossal advancements in information technology; the latter is said to be the driver of the former.

As a result, globalization became omnipresent and many of the countries used it to thrive their businesses at the expense of underdeveloped states. However, critics of globalization blame it for creating inequality and it is believed that exploitation became instrumental during peak days of globalization. Consequently, multilateralism was sent to the back burners. With Trump and Modi and likes assuming to the power multilateralism existed mere in theory. Practically, the latter became non-existent. Even, the global body which was created in the name of multilateralism had to surrender in front of the veto powers. Resultantly, might is right became norm of the day. Subsequently, the world had to witness destruction in the form of Afghanistan, Iraq, syria and many others. These events in international politics were the result of denying multilateralism and promotion of unilateralism which had to rely on hegemonic designs.

Recently, the outbreak of pandemic corona virus has made it crystal clear to the world leaders that the panacea of all problems lies in multilateralism. World has been turned into a global village, thanks to globalisation, and there is no escape from the dangers as long as unilateralism and protectionism are prevalent. Every problem and crisis has a universal effect and no state can save itself from the spill-over effect. The balloon effect of threats is inevitable because of inter dependency. The World has to contend that an interconnected world cannot bear individual consequences for a universal problem or a state cannot be singled out in a critical time. In the recent times, the US has taken this course; blaming China for the outbreak of the pandemic. On the contrary, the devastating repercussions of corona virus are suggesting an otherwise course to tackle the problem. It is high time the global leaders and bodies should come up with inclusive strategies save the world from further destruction. UN and regional powerful organisations must come forth to convince global leadership to renew multilateral ism and world should act collectively to resolve the prevailing crises. Perhaps, this is the right time to act globally to save the world from further destruction.

The writer has earned degree in Business Administration, LLB and International Relations. The writer can be reached on [email protected]

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