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Sunday 20 Aug 2017 | 20:39 | SYDNEY
Sunday 20 Aug 2017 | 20:39 | SYDNEY

Reader riposte: Multilateralism isn't the problem

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This post is part of the Multilateralism and its critics debate thread. To read other posts in this debate, click here.

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23 May 2011 09:29


This post is part of the Multilateralism and its critics debate thread. To read other posts in this debate, click here.

Andrew Farran writes:

Michael Wesley makes a flick pass on multilateralism and then asserts we need new ways of dealing with multilateral problems! The issue is not multilateralism per se. It is the nature of the problems themselves in a world where national selfishness is growing along with demands for exceptionalism. We see this vividly illustrated at the moment over the future of the GATT/WTO system, which has been of enormous value over the years but is now facing irrelevance because no one will give ground over relatively minor issues. The flaw in that system may be the requirement of unanimity which should now legislate for sub-multilateral agreements as long as they adhere to core GATT principles. FTAs in some cases are an example of this, though many of these abuse an essential GATT requirement by not involving 'substantially all the trade' of the participants and are essentially preferential arrangements. Where did that lead in the 1930s?

It is frequently said that if the UN didn't exist it would have to be invented. If it were invented now it would look very different from the original. But then the probability is that in today's climate it would not be invented at all. But it is conceded that it does useful work under long-standing arrangements. While innovative arrangements to deal with specific issues are to be welcomed they should avoid doing violence to the core principles of multilateralism which are, or should be, directed at achieving the greater good for all.

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