Bled panel hears multilateralism imperfect but must not fail
Multilateralism faces a number of challenges and international institutions are far from perfect, but there is too much at stake for multilateralism to fail, heard a panel that brought together several foreign affairs officials at the Bled Strategic Forum on 28 August.
The debate highlighted a number of issues, with participants ultimately underlining the need for international institutions to evolve.
Wu Hongbo, China's special representative on European affairs, believes the two main issues are double standards and unmet commitments, but there is also a growing distrust between the global North and the global South.
Touching on the effect of the Covid pandemic on the global supply chain, Wu said that other countries' moving away from China was making life difficult for the Chinese, with Chinese.
South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin saying said that decoupling from China was neither desirable nor good and that de-risking would be better.
He noted that South Korea would be joining Slovenia as a non-permanent UN Security Council member next year, expressing the belief that it is the role on non-permanent members to introduce debates that would make the UN respond better to crises.
Slovenia's Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon underlined the importance of a value-based approach, saying that common values should be restored and put back into focus.
Pointing to some of the biggest challenges, she listed climate change, but also inequality reflected in that the wealthiest countries are the biggest consumers and the biggest polluters.
She underlined that the world is so interconnected that crises affect countries on the other side of the world.
Echoing other participants, Ignazio Cassis, the head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, underlined that multilateralism, especially the UN, needed to evolve, as it does not reflect the world of today.
In the UN, the power is in the hands of WWII winners, he noted, adding that it was in human nature that those in power do not want to give it up. The issue, as he sees it, is how to open a discussion about power without triggering violent reactions.
While the participating foreign affairs representatives spoke of the importance of multilateralism and international institutions, the Indian author Shashi Tharoor was far more critical, illustrating that the first reaction to the pandemic was for countries to shut down borders.
He questioned global solidarity, saying that the UK had ordered three times as many vaccines as needed and will now be destroying them, while African countries did not get the vaccines they needed.