- The Nobel Peace Prize 2020 was awarded to the World Food Programme (WFP) in recognition of its role in combating hunger and malnutrition across the developing world.
- The message which this award is sending to the world is that we need multilateralism as an expression of international solidarity.
WFP and the pandemic
- According to the WFP, 132 million more people could become malnourished as a consequence of the pandemic.
- To the 690 million hungry people who go to bed each night on an empty stomach, another 100 million or more will be added.
- The Nobel Prize to the WFP will hopefully nudge our collective conscience to come together and relieve this looming humanitarian crisis.
- Multilateral institutions are a network which enables governance in areas which require coordination among nation states and set norms to regulate the behaviour of states so as to avoid conflict and to ensure both equitable burden sharing and, equally, a fair distribution of benefits.
Significance of UN
- The UN is an essential part of the fabric of international relations.
- Its role has become even more important precisely because the salience of global issues has expanded and the need for multilateral approaches in finding solutions has greatly increased.
What does international solidarity mean?
- International solidarity should be understood in a broader concept that includes sustainability in international relations, especially international economic relations, the peaceful coexistence of all members of the international community, equal partnerships and the equitable sharing of benefits and burdens, refraining from doing harm or posing obstacles to the greater wellbeing of others, including in the international economic system and to our common ecological habitat, for which all are responsible.
Challenges to international solidarity
- The United Nation failed to keep alive the notion of international solidarity and cooperation.
- The Powerful member countries have resisted efforts to institute long overdue reforms 75 years on, its structure no longer reflects the changes in power equations that have taken place.
- While there are multilateral institutions they have become platforms for contestations among their member states.
Need for international solidarity
For tackling domestic challenges
- In tackling domestic challenges deeper external engagement is often indispensable.
- For example, even if India’s carbon emissions became zero tomorrow, climate change would continue to affect us if others do not also reduce their emissions.
- The pandemic originated in a third country, but soon raged across national borders.
Interconnectedness among challenges
- While we speak of rising salience of cross-national issues we must also take into account the inter-connectedness among various challenges.
- For example, food, energy and water security are inter-linked with strong feedback loops .
- Enhancing food security may lead to diminished water and energy security.
- It may also have collateral impact on health security.
- Raising crop yields with current agricultural strategies means higher incremental use of chemical fertilizers and toxic pesticides.
- India’s unprotected farmers are exposed to serious health risks as a result and often get bankrupted not due to crop failure but debilitating health costs.
- These interconnections must be realised and nations should commit to work collectively in a multilateral framework.
To achieve SDGs
- The SDGs are cross-domain but also cross-national in character, and hence demand greater multilateral cooperation in order to succeed.
- India has been a consistent advocate of multilateralism and it firmly believes that the path to achieve sustainable peace and prosperity is through multilateralism.
- There is a need for a more democratic world order since lack of cooperation from even a single state may frustrate success in tackling a global challenge.
- As children of Planet Earth we must join hands to address our common challenges and achieve our common goals.