Center for Governance and Sustainability

at the University of Massachusetts Boston

Plurilateral

pg. 29: Plurilateral, often multi-stakeholder, coalitions of the willing and able.

 

Readers' Guide Comment on “Plurilateral, often multi-stakeholder”

In the history of diplomacy, first there were ‘bilateral’ relations between two countries, and then there were “multilateral” relations among countries which were all part of the same intergovernmental organization. More recently, there are “plurilateral” arrangements which are formal relations between sub-groups of countries in a multilateral organization.

GRI is introducing two modifications to the plurilateral terminology. First, that some parties to plurilateral relations might not be countries. Second, that some plurilateral coalitions might not involve countries but only other categories of stakeholders.

One implication of these modifications is that GRI might considerable as a legitimate ‘plurilateral coalition of the willing and able’ a grouping of multinational corporations working together on a common project. This arrangement would be a form that previously would have been called an oligopoly – a coalition of like-minded firms which set the rules of the game for their collective self-interest. A second implication is perhaps more interesting. As GRI treats nation-states as just one possible global Actor in international governance, then some combination of businesses, nation-states, and civil society organizations could work together not just as a ‘multi-stakeholder partnership’ but as a ‘plurilateral coalition of the willing and able.’ See the note on ‘willing and able’ below.  

Readers' Guide Comment on “coalitions of the willing and able”

The most famous use of the phrase ‘coalition of the willing’ was made by the Bush Administration and the Blair Government to describe the alliance of governments in the military intervention in Iraq, an intervention which occurred without Security Council review.

The choice of words here is interesting in another manner. There are many civil society organizations that have a will to address global problems but lack the ability to force dominant players to change their practices. In this sense the addition of the concept of ‘ableness’ implies that only politically (or militarily) strong Actors should drive economic and social change.

Related Ideas: Key third building block; WTO plurilateral protocol; Governance by volunteering; Opt-in-Opt-outism; Civil society as governors; Options for military matters

The Readers' Guide welcomes comments with alternative examples or counter examples, supplemental assessments of the extracted GRI text or commentary – critical or otherwise – of the above interpretation of GRI’s perspective.

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