International cooperation in the 21st century: A Multilateralism for the People

Multilateralism: cooperation between states, © Thomas Koehler/photothek.net

19.05.2021 - Article

The COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, artificial intelligence: global challenges can only be mastered through international cooperation. The German Government’s White Paper on Multilateralism shows how Germany is working to strengthen multilateral institutions and rules.

Cooperation based on solidarity and common rules

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to considerable human suffering as well as unprecedented restrictions in daily life within our societies. However, it also raises the question as to what kind of international order is best suited to finding the right answers to future global challenges.

The German Government’s position is clear. A stable, fair and effective international order can only be based on the readiness to engage in cooperation in a spirit of solidarity and a commitment to common rules and institutions. The Federal Republic of Germany has therefore supported this multilateral order with the United Nations at its heart since its foundation.

Germany second‑largest contributor to the UN system

Germany takes its responsibility seriously: it is the second‑largest contributor to the UN system and supports humanitarian assistance measures in particular, such as the Central Emergency Response Fund or the World Food Programme of the United Nations.

Germany is also the second‑largest contributor to the multilateral cooperation platform Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT Accelerator), which is engaged around the globe in fostering the rapid development, production and fair distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, medicines, and diagnostics.

Politically and in terms of personnel, too, Germany is working to promote multilateralism. For instance, almost 5000 German soldiers have taken part in multilateral deployments and missions for peace and stability around the world and Germany is putting forward ideas on international norms and rules in cyberspace, the regulation of lethal autonomous weapons systems or how to halt sexual violence in war.

The German Government has set out and explained the entire breadth of Germany’s multilateral engagement for the first time in a White Paper on Multilateralism.

A Multilateralism for the People: Adapting the multilateral order for the 21st century

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas stated that with the adoption of the White Paper by the Federal Cabinet today (19 May), the German Government wants to make it clear in particular how the multilateral order can be adapted to deal with the challenges and conditions of the 21st century and what contribution Germany can make. The focus is on the principle of multilateralism for humanity, aimed at bringing about a concrartiete improvement in the lives of people in Germany, Europe and around the world. At the same time, it is open to new stakeholders, such as the countries of the global South, international organisations and civil society.

In introducing the White Paper, the German Government wants to open a discussion on how multilateralism can be further developed and implemented for the 21st century.


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