Amid signs that support for international institutions and cooperation is fraying, France and Germany have launched an Alliance for Multilateralism…writes Arul Louis
Foreign Ministers Jean-Yves Le Drian of France and Heiko Maas called on all nations to join the alliance to show their support for multilateralism and the UN.
Although the alliance seems to be motivated by US President Donald Trump’s “America First” policy that devalues international organisations and cooperation, and the backing he has received from some countries, Le Drian said the effort was not directed against anyone.
Asked if they would ask the US to join, he said: “Whoever wants to join us can join us. It is inclusive. We don’t want to lock out anyone.”
Speaking at a joint news conference at the French Mission, Maas warned that multilateralism is under threat and said the alliance would seek to strengthen “rule-based multilateralism”.
The UN is the pivotal organisation for peace and would remain so in the the future, he added.
There has been discussions about the alliance with Japan, Canada and South Korea, he said.
Le Drian said that the alliance would create a flexible network to promote multilateral cooperation on issues like fighting inequality and climate change, and meeting the challenges of technology.
The alliance would show that the majority of countries, which has been silent, backs multilateralism and the UN, Le Drian added.
The alliance would function at the ministerial level and they met at the UN with representatives of several countries to seek support for it, he said.
The symptoms of the weakening of multilateralism were obvious.
Le Drian referred to the rise of nationalism alongside unilateralism and isolationism, and stressed that strengthening multilateralism was the need of the hour.
Trump has criticised the functioning of the UN and cut funds for it and also questioned the level of support Washington provides North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and other allies.
Falling out with allies, he has also withdrawn from the multilateral agreement with Iran on denuclearisation, and recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and its annexation of the Syrian Golan Heights captured in the 1967 war.
Tellingly, the US announced on Tuesday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will not be attending the ministerial meeting of the G-7 — the group of seven industrialised countries — on Friday and Saturday in France.
Meanwhile in Europe, Britain is in the throes of leaving the European Union and Italy, breaking with its continental allies, has signed on to China’s Belt and Road initiative for transcontinental cooperation.