The Year in Multilateralism: Three Trends and One Surprise Stand Out in 2018

Houthi representative Mohammed Abdulsalam, right, and Yemeni Foreign Minister Khaled al-Yaman, left, with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at peace talks in Rimbo, Sweden, Dec. 13, 2018 (TT News Agency photo via AP).
Houthi representative Mohammed Abdulsalam, right, and Yemeni Foreign Minister Khaled al-Yaman, left, with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at peace talks in Rimbo, Sweden, Dec. 13, 2018 (TT News Agency photo via AP).
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What happened in the multilateral system in 2018? Looking back over the year, it is possible to identify three strategic trends and a last-minute political surprise that may resonate in the future. The big trends in multilateralism included a hardening of the Trump administration’s opposition to international cooperation, a concomitant increase in China’s efforts to influence bodies like the United Nations, and worrying signs of European splits over the value of internationalism. The surprise was an unexpected, and arguably almost accidental, revitalization of humanitarian politics over Yemen. Let’s start with the trends. By the end of 2017, it was clear […]

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