[Answered] In light of the present situation, highlight the challenges and India’s approach to Multilateralism.

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Write some challenges to Multilateralism.  Also explain India’s approach to Multilateralism.
Conclusion: Write a way forward.

Multilateralism means a form of cooperation between at least three States. It is often defined in opposition to bilateralism and unilateralism.   It is based on founding principles such as consultation, inclusion and solidarity. Multilateralism is determined by collectively developed rules that ensure sustainable and effective cooperation. It guarantees all States the same rights and obligations.

Challenges to Multilateralism:

  • Advanced economies (AEs) are now disenchanting globalization. E.g. Brexithas weakened multilateralism in  
  • The BRICSfailed to determine the dynamics of the future course in the Indo-Pacific.
  • In the G7 Summit 2022, the members were preoccupied with its increasing involvement in the war through supply of money, sophisticated weapons, etc. It failed to produce any results on other major issues like climate change etc.
  • As the Appellate Body of the WTO is unable to hear new appeals, causing widespread concern in the context of escalating global trade protectionism.
  • Despite its massive size, the United Nations has become hostage to geopolitical competition and ideological struggles. g. mostly refrained from criticizing Beijing’s actions against the Uighurs.
  • The performance of the World Health Organization during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the ambiguity and lack of transparency of its investigation on the origins of the virus.
  • The conflict in Ukraine has exposed fault lines in European security that most multilateral actors had failed to acknowledge.

India’s approach to Multilateralism:

  • Based on pragmatism: India has worked to advance and protect its core interests through multilateral engagement, to resist or ignore international rules when necessary, and to be willing to ratify such rules where national and global interests align.
  • Principled stands: on various issues like nuclear proliferation and weapons control, international trade, climate change, etc.
  • Trade: India has actively participated in both the WTO and the regional trade agreements. E.g. India’s FTAs with the ASEAN and the signing of the South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) indicate a firm commitment to regional frameworks.
  • In its efforts to secure its interests, India has continued to engage with countries in the opposing blocs, for instance, India is member of both Quad (with Australia, Japan and the US) and the SCO (with Russia and China).
  • India has used bilateral and trilateral frameworks, especially joint naval exercises, with countries like the US, Australia, Singapore, and France to send strategic messages.

There is a need to enhance cooperation among the UN, regional organization, international finance institution at both policy and operational levels.

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