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Multilateralism – Can we still build on it?

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Cooperadio – The Global Cooperation Podcast

By Richard Ponzio

Contributed by Stimson Center

Posted 18 June 2021

COVID-19 has uncovered the enormous interdependencies of our globalized era and revealed how quickly interruptions in this system translate into peoples everyday lives all around the globe. So how has “the world” fared in (politically) managing this challenge as a whole? Have we succeeded in cooperating globally to overcome this crisis? And what does our response to this one tell us about any challenges of the future, such as the climate change emergency?

A couple of weeks ago, Prof. Jan Aart Scholte spoke with Dr Richard Ponzio, Director of the "Global Governance, Justice & Security“ Program and Senior Fellow at the Stimson Center in Washington, D.C. He wanted to know: Does traditional multilateral cooperation have a future? What will diplomacy post-COVID-19 look like? And what role could private actors play in the global cooperation architecture of the future?

As a mode of global cooperation, multilateralism has been under strain long before the onset of the pandemic, as certain actors have been contesting either its functionality or even its value altogether. Evidence of an increasingly fragile internationalism, where great powers instrumentalize institutions for geopolitical calculations, has loomed not just since the protectionist turn of the Trump administration. However, Richard sees reason to be mildly optimistic about how this crisis will be dealt with, given, for instance, the United States‘ return to a more international profile under the Biden administration.

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