Multilateralism – solving global problems together

Multilateralism: cooperation between states

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

22.04.2021 - Article

Be it the COVID-19 pandemic, in climate change or resolving political crises, international cooperation is more important than ever today when it comes to addressing the most pressing issues of our age.

Challenges know no borders

In the age of globalisation, almost all countries on Earth are interconnected. Conflicts raging thousands of miles away may have a direct impact on people’s lives in Europe. Phenomena such as climate change cause problems that do not stop at any borders. Right now, the COVID-19 pandemic shows that cross-border challenges can only be overcome if we work together. We will only be safe when all of us are safe, which is why multilateral cooperation is more important than ever today.

Shared rules are to everyone’s advantage

Multilateralism literally means “many-sided” and is formed of the Latin words “multus”, many, and “latus”, side. We talk of multilateralism in foreign policy when states coordinate their policies and act together as equals.

Multilateralism also means that states refrain from pursuing their own interests with no regard for other countries. They do this because they know that, ultimately, all states reap the greatest gains if they work together and agree on rules. Such cooperation relies on certain principles and values being shared by all parties.

Alliance for Multilateralism

Foreign Minister Maas has therefore initiated an Alliance for Multilateralism, a new network of countries working together in a range of policy areas that is committed to preserving and further developing our rules-based order. The aim is to bolster the values of the UN, strengthen cooperation, enhance the legitimacy of fair rules and tackle the challenges of the future together.

The United Nations– the Charter lays down the rules of the game

The UN Charter lays down the rules according to which states cooperate and is therefore a key foundation of multilateral cooperation today. With the overarching objective of maintaining international peace and security, the member states undertake “to achieve international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character” (Article 1 (3) of the UN Charter).

Joint success story

This cooperation is a success story. From environmental policy to the protection of human rights and peacekeeping, it is clear that problems can only be resolved by working together – through agreements and practical cooperation between countries.


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