There is a crisis in multilateralism. This paper examines multilateralism by looking at the two most important current efforts to devise new multilateral rules binding all nations; the negotiations in the World Trade Organization (WTO) of trade rules and the negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to devise rules restricting the annual emissions of greenhouse gases. Both negotiations have failed after several years of intensive effort. There are remarkable parallels in these negotiations. Both have used the same approach to negotiations; consensus decision-taking, a bottom-up approach and differential treatment of developing countries, and complex modalities. These features have made the negotiations tortuous. Major changes in international relations have made agreement impossible to date: large global market imbalances and changes in geopolitical balances have produced a general distrust among major parties and an absence of leadership. What is needed most of all is a common or shared vision of the gains from binding multilateral rules for the world economy.
Doha Development Round Climate Change Negotiations rationale for multilateral organisations shared vision