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Submitted by Dr. Onga Nana, Maximilien on
A Matter of Good Global Governance: Whose interests is Multilateralism serving? Multilateralism is a term in international relations that refers to multiple countries working in concert on a given issue. Although since the beginning of the modern period between 1500 and 1800, with excessive maritime navigation, the triangular commerce and the rivalries between dominating nations of Europe, there were treaties or multilateral consultations which could be given the credit for ending slavery and on agreements on the management of the world-wide maritime space of which the spice trade road with India; history reports that the first modern instances of multilateralism occurred in the nineteenth century in Europe after the end of the Napoleonic Wars where the great powers met to redraw the map of Europe at the Congress of Vienna. Conferences such as the Conference of Berlin in 1884 (during which participating powers divided African territories among themselves) helped reduce great power conflicts among European nations coveting Africa’s resources. These forums for concertations and negotiations were instrumental in keeping relative peace during the 19th century in Europe. The concert system was utterly destroyed by the First World War. After the 1914-1916 conflict, the League of Nations is created in order to try to prevent conflicts of similar scale. Today, there are myriad multilateral institutions of varying scope and subject matter, not all of them belonging or maintained within the UN system. Challenges The multilateral system has encountered mounting challenges since the end of the Cold War. The United States has become increasingly dominant on the world stage in terms of military and economic power, which has led certain countries (Iran, China, and India) to question the United Nation's multilateral relevance. Concurrently, a perception has developed that the United States is more inclined to act unilaterally in situations with international implications. With the Obama administration, an attempt to realign the course of US foreign policy to multilateralism is been observed. However, the desire to assert power and to please key allies in specific strategic issues is heavily twisting multilateralism to become a system to be used to serve unilateral interests. Both in economic and geopolitical decisions, the use of military “macht” for the advancement of unilateral and sometimes coalesced singled interests are jeopardizing world peace and interests of the “unmächtig”. Many proponents of multilateralism are suggesting redeployment. In an article published in the NYtimes on October 24, 2008, Robert B. Zoellick, president of the World Bank Group talks about a New Multilateralism that is to rely on national leadership and cooperation. Beyond the G-7 deemed not sufficient, Robert B. Zoellick pleads for a better group for a different time; a core group of finance ministers who would assume responsibility for anticipating issues, sharing information, mobilizing efforts to solve problems, and at least managing differences. He further advocates for a new steering group including Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and the G-7. Once again the tendency is to continue to le multilateralism be defined by the powerful, and managed by the same powerful. To the eye of the many “unmächtig”, the purpose of this is solely to create the framework suitable to certain kind of businesses, to the exploitation of mineral rich countries, for the development of richer and more powerful nations, and to their own expansion. The only way to get there being to subscribe and support this agenda, and favor an even not so genuine kind of “growth”. The urgency to rethink multilateralism is a matter of good governance. System users‘ expectations and satisfaction are key metrics that can and should be used to measure pertinence and efficiency, and to retool a system intended to bring positive and sustainable change. Expectations and satisfaction is not only for the wealthy, mächtig ones who created the system but for those unmächtig that are part of this global bargain. After Berlin in 1884, how to prove Africans that any similar gathering would not have the same purpose? And when they do, one should recognize their anti democratic scandalous intend and contend. Conflicts avoidance among the powerful, which guided the first efforts in multilateralism need rethinking because of the fundamental meaning of conflict which should and must include the feeling of brutal exploitation, total lack of recognition a good number of mineral rich but military poor countries have. Sustainable peace is conditioned by mutual trust in the concert of nations and in all kind of transactions engaging any individual or group of nations. Transparency, fairness and accountability are not to be requested when it allows a certain firm to win a bid. It is integral part of the international bargain game, if all have to trust the system. On another angle, the equation of the military force that seems to prevail owing to having been chosen by those that define the rules and yielding advantages from the system should be substituted to weighted system integrating the resources for which the appetite is at the center of all the geopolitical militaro -economical battles that guide the global business today. Refusing to give voice to the countries of which the resources are subject of these lusts is synonymous with gangsterism. Many may disagree.

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