Spotlight on Global Multilateralism - Perspectives on the future of international cooperation in times of multiple crises

Spotlight 2023 Cover
Spotlight 2023 Cover

The world is in permanent crisis mode. In addition to the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and the triple planetary crisis of climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss, countries in all regions are being hit by the geopolitical and economic effects of the war in Ukraine and other violent conflicts, a worldwide cost of living crisis and an escalating debt crisis, especially among low and middle income countries.

In such a situation, intensified international cooperation is urgently needed. Under the slogan “breakdown or breakthrough”, UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called for new ways to work together to overcome the multiple crises. He proposed a Summit of the Future, calling it “a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reinvigorate global action, recommit to fundamental principles, and further develop the frameworks of multilateralism so they are fit for the future”.

UN Member States agreed that the Summit will take place in September 2024, preceded by a preparatory ministerial meeting in September 2023.

The Summit preparatory process provides a unique opportunity not only for governments and the UN but also for civil society organizations, trade unions and researchers to shape the global discourse on the future of multilateralism and global cooperation.

This new report Spotlight on Global Multilateralism aims to contribute to this process. It offers critical analyses and presents recommendations for strengthening democratic multilateral structures and policies. Its contributors cover key areas such as peace and common security, reforms of the global financial architecture, calls for a New Social Contract, an inclusive digital future, the rights of future generations and the transformation of education systems. The report also identifies built-in deficiencies and weaknesses of current multilateral structures and approaches. This applies, inter alia, to concepts of corporate-influenced multistakeholderism, for instance in the area of digital cooperation. And while not yet adequately recognized in the global multilateral system, the report also explores the increasingly active role of cities, regions and their international associations on the frontline of interconnected crises.

Seventy-five years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a key challenge is to create mechanisms to ensure that human rights - as well as the rights of future generations and the emerging rights of nature - are no longer subordinated to the vested interests of powerful economic elites in multilateral decision-making. Contributors to this report are convinced that fundamental and systemic changes in policies, governance and mindsets are necessary in order to rebuild trust and to foster multilateral cooperation based on solidarity and international law – and thereby to forcefully confront the world’s multiple crises.


Executive summary

Full report (pdf, 2.3 MB)

Table of contents






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