AuthorAswini K. Mohapatra,Srikanth Kondapalli
Published date01 October 2021
Date01 October 2021
Subject MatterIntroduction
International Studies
58(4) 423 –424, 2022
© 2022 Jawaharlal Nehru University
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DOI: 10.1177/00208817221075100
The current issue of International Studies has articles focusing on various
dimensions of multilateralism—a subject of utmost importance in international
relations. Since the formation of the largest multilateral institution, the United
Nations, the subject has gained prominence in both international relations theory
and practice through liberal institutionalism. Today, it is a major area of enquiry
into the interactions of nations, adjusting and adapting to the debates and
critiques on the way.
Multilateral institutions, processes or regimes facilitated interactions between
states and enhanced cooperation. It contributed to the regulation of the behaviour
of states and influenced the decision-makers to seek cooperation. Several concepts
have been proposed and implemented as the regimes and decision-makers found
them useful. Mention should be made of the core aspects of multilateralism,
namely, equality of constituent member states, non-discrimination, non-
exclusivity, reciprocity, non-specificity of enemy, peaceful resolution of disputes,
confidence-building measures, mutual trust-building or common security.
Peace, stability, prosperity and economic integration promoted multilateralism.
However, the crises in global governance, unilateral tendencies, rise of new states
and actors, nationalism, breakdown in United States–China relations and
continuing friction between the United States and Russia, spread of terrorism and
breakdown in the state apparatuses across swathes of North Africa, West Asia and
other regions, the spread of the debilitating novel coronavirus pandemic that
affected not only life and limb but also global supply chains—all have raised
concerns over the declining influence of the multilateral processes.
This has led to a call for ‘new multilateralism’ by the International Monetary
Fund chief Christine Lagarde and found resonances in New Delhi’s articulation of
‘reformed multilateralism’. India’s distribution of 66 million doses of vaccine to
95 countries, despite the resurgence of Covid-19 infections at home, underlined
the importance of aiding several developed and developing nations as well as
contributing to the multilateral UN-led COVAX initiative. The German–French
initiative of ‘Alliance for Multilateralism’ to counter challenges to rules-based
international order and international cooperation adds further to this debate on
The articles in this issue of International Studies are broadly selected on
themes related to various facets of multilateralism, starting from its economic
dimensions and reflecting on the social, civil society, political and regional
aspects. Manmohan Agarwal walks us through the ‘the evolution of multilateralism
from essentially its political roots to the economic area’ by dissecting momentous

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