On Wednesday, June 24, Valdai Club Research Director Fyodor Lukyanov took part in an international webinar “Enhancing multilateralism to collectively achieve the sustainable development goals”, dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the UN.
In his address, Lukyanov raised the question of the relationship between globalisation and multilateralism, noting that these concepts are not identical. Globalisation, as it was seen in the 1990s, implied a decrease of the role of states as the main players in the international system and the emergence of new forms of global governance in their place. Until a certain point, such elements as freedom of trade and the movement of citizens were beneficial to all participants in the international system. However, by the middle of the second decade of the 21st century, a perception began to take root in some Western countries that the fruits of globalisation had mainly gone to the “new great powers,” primarily China, and in response they sought to bring about globalisation’s collapse.
The coronavirus pandemic has added a new element to this process: the resurgence of the role of states. “Only a nation-state can and should operate to protect its citizens in crisis situations,” Lukyanov emphasised. “All supranational institutions disappeared when people felt that their life is in danger.”
The world is in an interesting situation, Lukyanov concluded. On the one hand, isolation is the only way to combat the epidemic – at the level of individuals and entire states. On the other hand, the world – from Cape Town to Reykjavik and from Shanghai to Norilsk – is facing a common enemy, like never before and without exception. National interests have once again come to the fore, but they can only be pursued within the framework of international cooperation – and this is the essence of multilateralism.
A video of the webinar (in English) is available here.