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National Interest More Important Than Multilateralism: Jaishankar

| Updated: February 23, 2024 20:11

During a panel discussion at the ongoing Raisina Dialogue in New Delhi, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar emphasised the importance of national interest ahead of multilateralism.

“Very literally in our first year of independence, we put our trust on multilateralism and took the Kashmir aggression issue to the UN and others made it into an accession issue. And they did it for geopolitical reasons. The fact is that if you say they are playing multilateralism, they always did. We’ve grown up,” he said alluding to the Nehru era.

According to a report in India Today, Jaishankar pointed out to the UN’s incapacity to deal with global challenges, saying the associations size that has increased four-fold since its inception has reduced its effectiveness.

He also took a swipe at China for opposing reforms in the UN Security Council at a session of the Raisina Dialogue. “Biggest opposers to UNSC reforms is not a western country,” he was quoted as saying.

“When the UN was invented, it had approximately 50 members. We have four times the members. So it’s a common sense proposition that you can’t continue the same way when you have four times the members.

“If you look at the last five years, for all the big issues, we have not been able to find a multilateral solution. So the lack of results demonstrates the case for reform. In many cases, the rules have been gamed. We speak about globalisation.

“The fact is that the world trading rules have been gamed. And we have a lot of challenges today also emanate from how countries have used that for their benefit at the expense of the international system.”

Yusuf Makamba, Minister of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation of Tanzania, said in the conference that they weren’t convinced about the current global system.

“We see a lot of hypocrisy in the way we deal with international issues that concern us. We see double standards. There is tremendous mistrust in the global economic and political architecture,” he was quoted as saying.

“People talk about rules-based, the two keywords are rules and order. We make the rules? And we think the current set up from the beginning has not been working for us. We think reform is not enough.

“The current structure exists because it was somewhat settlement to prevent an upheaval. There is a need for a reorder. The conversations about reforms, especially the UN, the way it votes, the way it makes decisions are insufficient.

“Of course, we won’t wait for another upheaval so that we have a reordering of the international order. India can help build a new system of coalitions and partnerships that work for us.”

The panel discussion, ‘A Tapestry of Truths: Can the Two Hemispheres Agree?’, focused on how the South has been singled out for a perceived failure to sustain universal values in the midst of a European war.

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