India believes in multilateralism. As Commerce and Industry Minister, I organised two mini WTO ministerial conferences to promote a rules-based, democratic, transparent global trading system. India would like to fight climate change together as a global challenge. We are working with most countries to deal with all global issues in a democratic manner.
We must reform the UN and other such institutions urgently, to make them battle-ready to fight known and emerging global challenges. We must redefine ‘global cooperation’ by developing win-win solutions for all countries in the world. A sustainable world can’t be built on some countries growing at the expense of others. We can’t build peaceful societies unless we remove socioeconomic disparities. We can’t think of a world order that lacks empathy and mutual respect.
What’s the meaning of the word ‘globalisation’, really? Is it only one integrated global trading system alone? Or is it much more than that?
Today, the whole world is facing the adverse consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
First a health crisis, it then snowballed into an economic crisis of global magnitude.
No country in the world has escaped unscathed from the spread of the virus or the following economic crisis. Would the world be engulfed by separate local crises if it were not fully integrated?
Now comes the big question of how we move forward – whether we would like to continue with the same world order or if countries will disentangle from today’s well-established system.
Before COVID-19, the WTO was a symbol of a modern global trading platform. Now it faces an existential crisis. Many countries like the US have renegotiated long-agreed trade treaties, including with steadfast allies in NATO. The US had walked out of the Paris Climate Agreement and very recently withdrew from the WHO.
Not to mention that the UN has been considerably weakened over a period of time.
So, we have experienced huge setbacks to multilateralism over the last few years. Then came this massive shock of the Coronavirus.
What do we do from here on? In order to fight both public health and economic issues, we need a strong, global-wide umbrella. Experience shows us that we have gained more by working together as a global family than separately.
The 7.4 billion people that span the seven continents of the world are all concerned with trade, health, the climate, the environment, terrorism, transnational economic offences, and other economic issues. It’s simply impossible for any one country, however strong it may be, to deal with these complex and intertwined issues on their own. Not only is it costly but more importantly, these issues cannot be dealt with without global cooperation.
Ecosystems are integrated; so are oceans and skies. Thus, how can one say “I will only deal with my share of the ocean and my portion of the sky and let others pollute it. And nonetheless, I want to enjoy the best environment”?
How can we have aviation or navigation systems that are not integrated? How can we trade globally and integrate national markets if there is no regulatory framework? The very logic for re-evaluating globalisation is to serve national interests. Will countries be served better if they act in isolation?
There’s a need to have an introspective attitude to re-examine the efficacy of the present global order and multilateral institutions. Both must be reformed to become more relevant, effective, transparent, participatory, and to reflect today’s geopolitical reality and geo-economic necessities.
The word ‘globalisation’ has some baggage attached to it. What’s important is not to embrace all that is associated with the word, but rather to use some of the basic advantages that derived from the past few decades, regarding economic and technological advancements – due to countries working together for promoting common global good. But we must get rid of and unlearn the negative aspects of globalisation.
If we do this wisely, we must then build an equitable global order, removing inequality and injustice from both our national and global frameworks.
Africa has the most potential to grow and has the highest uncultivated arable land. This could feed a global population of 9 billion in the next few decades. Asia has the most human resources. Europe has a strong commitment to democracy. South America has a huge number of natural resources. Australia sits on a vast landmass and other resources, as well. North America has technological capabilities. There are complimentarily strengths across geographic territories. We must respect and leverage each other’s strengths to gain the maximum good for all our citizens.
The sustainable development goals (SDGs) are more relevant to the world order today than at any other time in history, due to the vulnerability made clear by the COVID-19 pandemic. It means we can survive as a happy global community only if we actually work towards realising the spirit behind the SDGs, not just talk about them. A multilateralism in which we collaborate with each other is the only way we can achieve these lofty goals. There’s much to gain, and less to lose by embracing a collaborative multilateralism as a guiding principle for global governance.
If we can do this, then we would have truly built a strong foundation for a stable world and happy societies.
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