More commentary—this time from the President of the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations—on the significance of the Copenhagen meeting as one of the first signs of whatever-it-turns-out-to-be that follows the pax atlantica
“Multilateralism in the 21st century is, like the century itself, likely to be more fluid and, at times, messy than what we are used to.” Extract from Richard Haass in the Financial Times
Haass provides three possible new conformations of multilateralism for the 21st century that seem plausible to me: ‘regionalism’ as in regional trade agreements; ‘functional’ multilateralism—by which he means ‘coalitions of the willing’ or the ‘critical mass’ agreements that have been at the core of my recent work on agricultural trade agreements—and; ‘informal’ multilateralism comprising executive agreements on collaboration that fall some way short of treaties.
What these forms have in common, that distinguishes them from the form of multilateralism embodied in WTO, is that they are not ‘single undertaking’ agreements of the kind that has so crippled progress in the Doha Round of negotiations. It’s past time that the WTO member governments got that idea.