Existing multilateral system has no answers for contemporary challenges: Venkaiah Naidu


The existing multilateral system has fallen short in providing an effective response to economic, technological and security challenges the world is currently grappling with, vice president M Venkaiah Naidu said on Thursday.

India is pursuing reformed multilateralism as a key driving principle for the purposeful reform of existing global institutional structures, Naidu said in a virtual address at the Asia–Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit.

The theme for the two-day summit is “Strengthening multilateralism for shared growth” and the event witnessed the participation of all 51 member countries, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and the European Union (EU). The ASEM Summit is a biennial event and part of the process that sets priorities for cooperation between Asia and Europe on political, economic, financial, social, cultural and educational issues.

Naidu, who led the Indian delegation at the summit, emphasised the need for reforming the UN Security Council and other key global organisations to make them reflective of contemporary realities and capable of dealing with challenges.

The multitude of challenges in today’s dynamic and interdependent world cannot be addressed by out-dated systems designed to deal with challenges of the past, Naidu said. Pointing to the urgent need to re-imagine international cooperation, he said: “It is the lack of a coordinated global response that has exposed the vulnerabilities and weaknesses of the multilateral system as it stands today.”

Naidu also said development suffers without peace and that the lack of development and stifled economic progress create fertile ground for violence and instability. He backed efforts to promote economic activity and enhance livelihood security and suggested this will go a long way in the recovery of countries affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The pandemic has also exposed fault-lines ranging from unreliable global supply chains to inequitable vaccine distribution, and this underlines the need for strengthened multilateralism, he said. Noting that the re-imagined post-pandemic world will make very different demands from the multilateral system, he highlighted four areas for international economic cooperation – resilient and reliable supply chains, health security, digital for development, and green and sustainable recovery.

Naidu also stressed the need to mitigate the causes of persistent insecurity at a global level and the need for reforms in the international structure for maintaining peace and security.

The countries in ASEM represent 65% of global GDP, 60% of global population, 75% of global tourism and 55% of international trade.

Besides the opening ceremony and the first plenary session of the summit, Naidu will join the retreat session and exchange views on areas such as reformed multilateralism, countering Covid-19, post-pandemic recovery, mitigating global climate change, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and maritime security.

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