With the presentation of the project results at a discussion event at the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik in Berlin, the Goethe University Frankfurt and its partners, the Schader Foundation and the Aspen Institute Germany, successfully concluded the research project “Rethinking Multilateralism” funded by the Friede Springer Foundation.
A “Strategy Compass Multilateralism” was prepared as a compact presentation of the project’s goals and results. The project confronts the omnipresent motif of the crisis of multilateralism by examining its practical and conceptual foundations: The starting point was an “analysis of the established logical, cultural, and linguistic thought presuppositions of multilateralism.” Existing concepts were to be further developed and forward-looking “next practices” derived.
“The central result of the project is – provocatively formulated – that ‘multilateralism’ must be dissolved as a distinct concept and analytical category.” Multilateralism is no longer just a “cross-cutting issue of international politics, but a social phenomenon.” In our “globally interconnected world, the ability to act multilaterally has become so central and permeates all policy fields so comprehensively that this ‘skill’ can no longer be separated from, and rather underlies, other practices.”
Moreover, the term “multilateralism” is so loaded with values from different sides that it threatens to achieve the opposite of what it is supposed to: Abbreviated “politicized identities” in a “democratic multilateralism” and the concomitant prevention of a “cooperative regulatory policy” can promote regulatory rivalries. The appearance of an exclusively Western charge of the term and the associated question of what the international order should look like and who should define its rules and values prove to be a “gateway” for authoritarian states such as China, which, for their part, try to use the term and concept of multilateralism for their own ends.
Further information on the project results can be found in the „Strategie-Kompass Multilateralismus“.