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threat to multilateralism | International Organisations (IO's) and their Mission to civilize the World | EU, UN and IMF | Reforms within structures of international cooperation: what is desirable, what is possible? | The United Nations | Washington Consensus


threat to multilateralism  
Jeffrey Sachs Tells Vatican Conference: Trump's Re-election Would Make US "Absolutely Dangerous"

American economist and population control advocate Jeffrey Sachs launches a scathing attack on the Trump Administration, saying it is a bullying threat to multilateralism. Sachs was the keynote speaker at the conference on "New Forms of Solidarity" at the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences in the Vatican Gardens, Feb. 5, 2020.

Towards a more effective,  
networked, and inclusive multilateral system


  International Organisations (IO's) and their Mission to civilize the World
International Organisations (IO's) and their Mission to civilize the World, an Article by Klaas Dykmann, Associate Professor for Global Studies at the Roskilde University in Denmark and Supporter of the Initiative.

Global imbalances were institutionalised and thus perpetuated due to the legitimation of international organisations as a result of their international and seemingly neutral character. From the beginning, international standards had a strong western influence, such as human rights and labour norms. Western values, norms and patterns became standardised rules and western concepts shaped the organisations and their policies. Yet, the civilising mission of international organisations was another powerful element perceived as a moral obligation. Consequently a problematic paternalism formed, categorizing countries and societies with attributes like “serious” and “inferior”.

However, since the 1970s, the western imprint in international organisations would have been challenged by rising non-western powers. Their influence should gain a footing in the nature of the civilising mission of international organisations. Looking at criteria to civilize the world like health programmes and global governance, the western imprint is still more than obvious, states Dykmann. The civilizing mission, aiming to make the world more “European” or “western”, has led to many improvements, such as democratic standards, but generally fails to consider holistic approaches and the application of culturally appropriate measures so far.

Accordingly, international organisations would have taken the role of normative global “governors” in the civilising discourse. A stronger focus on non-western internationalism will be of high interest and importance for further research and contemplations, especially in the face of current global developments and changes. Dr. Klaas Dykmann: "My argument that a global civilising discourse has been one of the essential driving forces for IO, shall contribute to a more accurate study of international organisations as an alternative to a questionable postcolonial overall condemnation of these institutions and too normative and applauding assessments of IOs as only universally-legitimate global “governors”. It will be of particular research interest in the future to look closer at non-western internationalisms and civilising features of IO's."

The full article by Klaas Dykmann is available for download here.


EU, UN and IMF     Reforms within structures of international cooperation: what is desirable, what is possible?
International governance is increasingly important to find solutions to the financial and economic crisis that is currently raging in European countries. This is not just about agreements made in formal international organizations, but also coalitions of countries and non-state actors often ad hoc problems and try to solve the economic, political and strategic agenda.

EU and UN

The European Union (EU) has been an observer state at the United Nations (UN) since 1974 and has had enhanced participation rights since 2011. The EU itself does not have voting rights but it is represented alongside its 287 members, two of which (France and the United Kingdom) are permanent members of the Security Council.

The EU holds an enhanced observer status at the UN. While normal observers are not allowed to speak before Member States at the UN General Assembly, the EU was granted the right to speak among representatives of major groups on 3 May 2011. These include:

  • the right to speak in debates among representatives of major groups, before individual states,
  • to submit proposals and amendments,
  • the right of reply,
  • to raise points of order and to circulate documents.

However, the EU does not have voting rights nor the right to sit on the Security Council. The EU is represented by the President of the European Council, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the European Commission and the EU delegations

Reform of international organisations with eye for perspectives of other powers Van Bylandt lecture
Great interest on 7 October 2009 for the delivery by former Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Ben Bot during the 'Van Bylandt' lecture on Reforms within structures of international cooperation: what is desirable, what is possible? Attitude of present great powers with respect to other growing powers and future prospects is coming to the front in present times. Remembering China and IndiaEurope should not be stay behind with respect to international shiftings. Thinking about economic ratio's: there is a mismatch in power distribution and responsibilities. Something should be done with the distribution of votes within institutions. Not only this item is an occasion to reform. Most of the important institutions are founded after WW-II and actually they need to be reformed all to be ready for the challenges ahead.

The EU created a framework for its future by the Lisbon Treaty, by which an opening comes into existance for a change to a technical and political organisation.

Besides these views, CEPS delivered in October 2010 two papers on the role of Europe in the UN and in the IMF. Furthermore, also (required changes in) roles of organisations as IMF, World Bank, NATO, WTO and WHO were discussed. A rebirth or death of international organisations was addressed. In the present multipolar world international (IO's) organisations are of eminent importance. After all, current challenges require a global approach. Complicated problems with very complicated compromises appeared and that takes care of the fact that only a very small group of people does understand the matter. Another issue is that democratic feelings are strongly present, but not every nation does accept democracy on the level as western countries do. This also shows that changes within organisations are of need.If interests or goals does not allow reforms, then new institutions should be founded. Regional cooperation is also becoming more and more important. Mentioned as part of a solution: convene informal meetings.

Observed was the absence of sufficient legitimation in the world. We must have eye for the perceptions of China and India, both countries have another view on developments in the world. G20 is a good example how an organisation could be reformed. So, call it realistic multilateralism: the willingness to address the legitimate of all other countries. If looking at the economies, politics and (all armies together) also military, EU + US are so strong, that it can take decennia before China and India can play the same role.

The United Nations is an organisation of sovereign states, which voluntary join together to create a forum. The UN was founded after World War II with the aspiration to avoid future wars through diplomacy and dialogue amoung nations. Member States join the United Nations because it provides them the machanism to solve problems and disputes and to act on matters of concern to humanity.

Currently, 193 countries are UN members. The UN is not a world government, but a forum where countries meet to discuss important issues such as human rights, social and economic development, the fight against terrorism, and issues relating to our environment, amoung others. It plays a central role in reducing international tensions, preventing conflicts and putting an end to fighting already under way. All actions of the UN are made based on decisions of the Member States. The UN does not have an army nor imposes taxes.

The main UN offices (Secretariaat) are in New York, Geneva, Nairobi and Vienna. The six main UN organs are the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice, and the Secretariaat. The three pillars are peace, human rights, and development.


The Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS) unites people active in the work and study of the UN, in order to better understand and address the most pressing global issues of our time.

(Stimson Center)


The 'Van Bylandt' lecture Age Bakker, Dutch trustee at the IMF, presented on 1 June 2011 a very clarifying explanation on gobal economic governance. It is clear global governance has failed. Speed of developments is one of the causes and now a new world economic order is outlining. Thinking of how a country should position in order to represent its interests in the best way. There are also consequences for positions within international organizations, such as IMF and it means a weakening for the Washington Consensus (*).

Globalization, network-economy, military power are all aspects that triggered changes in the world. Europe was not (enough) prepared for it. Now, slowly, new global governance patterns are growing and G20 together with the IMF, acting as crisis management and supplier for prevention are the nucleus. 80% of IMF money is put out in Europe. Situations has changed and it is not illogical that emerging countries wants to represent their interests.
Coordination and oversight in the increasingly complex global economy is badly needed. The IMF, established in 1944 at Bretton Woods, has tasks that focus on international economic stability and, just like back in time, will do more targeted recommendations to individual countries, however powerful they may be. Tight reforms in exchange for loans, were denounced by critics as a tool of Western imperialism. The IMF can contribute to new architecture, and at the same time help preserve the current stability in the world economy.

IMF building
searching position in a new world economy
How to lay a claim on positions? With a strong international trade and industry, an important financial centre and a credit status. But also an open international system, transparency in rules and a tight policy and structural reforms matters. If a country can offer these conditionalities there are good posibilities to have chairs within supranational organizations.

A country has to dispose of a solid GDP, extended trade, foreign investments, financial centre and has to do efforts on development aid. Furthermore, it has to react pro-active and to be a honest-broker. Relations with Germany and the US (presence of mutually substantial investors) are of great importance, as well as strategic alliances.

Advance of 1 chair for the eurozone in the IMF is just a matter of time and will take care for a very strong position for Europe on the IMF-list, in stead of each country separate. European level is working better, than bilateral level if focussing on building up ties with the BRIC's, outlining a future for Eastern Europe, reforming relations with development-countries.

Cooperation between EU and IMF should be improved. A budget Union should be established and the French preference for strong international ideologies should be supported. This, and representatives of creditor and debtor countries, can deliver a mixed voting group.

conference on changes in the multilateral system of international economic and financial policies
The state of the global economy is in poor condition. The existing global financial architecture (Clingendael Policy Brief September 2012) is structurally flawed and puts in motion a rising demand for effective economic and financial policy governance on a global scale. This development represents challenges for European countries (e.g. the Netherlands and Belgium). These countries want problems recognized and solved, and they can hardly accept to play often no role of significance in (some) coalitions anymore.

Multilateralism-light, as defined under the G20, will - in theory - give green light, but only if allowed.

Several countries were not allowed to participate the recent G20 summit in Mexico (18-19 June 2012) anymore. From 1 November 2012 trustee positions in the IMF of Belgium and the Netherlands are combined (*).

It also seems inevitable that in time also at the World Bank emerging countries will get priority to represent their interests.

(*) There is a report
of the Dutch delegation to the Bretton Woods Conference in July 1944, which summarizes about some delegations, including Belgium: "The relationship between the Dutch and Belgian delegates can only be called excellent. There was constantly a very close contact between the two delegations, which showed that their insights on every point were entirely similar. The close cooperation has undoubtedly strengthened and greatly amplified the position of Belgium and the Netherlands at the conference. By acting jointly, the delegations represented an extremely important element in the international monetary and trading system and as such they were thus recognized. The good cooperation led, among other things, to a quota system where the Netherlands and Belgium were represented both in the Bank and the Fund as executive director or alternate executive director. This opens the possibility to get an appointment with the Netherlands, for example, during the first two years a Director designated for the Fund and an alternate for the Bank and Belgium a director for the Bank and an alternate for the Fund, while for the next period 2 year roles would swapped, etc. By the close contact and exchange of information and insights both delegations retained a complete overview of the work of the conference, since either Netherlands or Belgium was represented in almost every subcommittee or special committee".


  Washington Consensus

(*) The term Washington Consensus most commonly refers to an orientation towards neoliberal policies that from about 1980 - 2008 was influential among mainstream economists, politicians, journalists and global institutions like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

The term can refer to market-friendly policies that were generally advised and implemented both for advanced and emerging economies. It is sometimes used in a narrower sense to refer to economic reforms that were prescribed just for developing countries, which included advice to reduce government deficits, to deregulate international trade and cross-border investment, and to pursue export-led growth.

The term Washington Consensus is also sometimes used by economic historians to label an era, which depending on the author can range from at most 1979 - 2009 to at least 1989 - 2000.