IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 16th Oct 2020

Learn from the past, set vivid, detailed goals for the future, and live in the only moment of time over which you have any control: now.– Denis Waitley

Dear Aspirants
IASbhai Editorial Hunt is an initiative to dilute major Editorials of leading Newspapers in India which are most relevant to UPSC preparation –‘THE HINDU, LIVEMINT , INDIAN EXPRESS’ and help millions of readers who find difficulty in answer writing and making notes everyday. Here we choose two editorials on daily basis and analyse them with respect to UPSC MAINS 2020-21.

EDITORIAL HUNT #191 :“United Nations and Multilateralism | UPSC

United Nations and Multilateralism | UPSC

Shyam Saran
United Nations and Multilateralism | UPSC

Shyam Saran is a former Foreign Secretary and Senior Fellow, Centre for Policy Research


The message in the Peace Nobel — multilateralism


That the pandemic could also be impacting the anti-poverty fight is another reason why the world needs full solidarity

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 1 :2 : 3 : Awards : UN : Multilateralism


The post pandemic world will have no choice but to contend at last with a problem long in the making the awful dilemma of global integration without solidarity. Comment -(GS 3)


  • Missing collective approach
  • Meaning of Peace Award
  • UN @ 75.


  • MISSING COLLECTIVE EFFORTS : At a time of global challenges has significantly increased, nation states are less willing to cooperate and collaborate in tackling them.

COVID-19 recognises no national or regional boundaries as it rages across the world.

  • LAYMAN EXPECTATIONS : One would have expected that countries with technological and financial capabilities to pool their resources together to work on an effective and affordable anti-virus vaccine.
  • PARALLEL EFFORTS : Instead, there are several parallel national efforts under way even as the World Health Organization (WHO) has put together a Covax alliance for the same purpose.
  • COMMERCIAL RING : There is a competitive compulsion at work which may be appropriate in economic and commercial domains.
  • COLLECTIVE ABILITY : When the lives of people are at stake, active collaboration would have enhanced our collective ability to overcome what has become a public health-cum-economic crisis.
  • POLITICAL OPPORTUNISM : But we live in an era when nationalist urges, fuelled by a political opportunism, diminish the appeal of international cooperation.



  • PEACE PRIZE 2020 : This year’s Nobel Peace Prize to the World Food Programme (WFP) is a recognition of its role in combating hunger and malnutrition across the developing world.
  • UNDER-FUNDED INSTITUTION : But the WFP’s achievement are modest, not because it is an inefficient institution, but because it is perennially under-funded.
  • MESSAGE TO GLOBE : More important is the message which this award is sending to the world — that we need multilateralism as an expression of international solidarity.
  • REVERSAL OF POVERTY : It is also a warning that the novel coronavirus pandemic is reversing the substantial gains made in the fight against poverty.

According to the WFP, 132 million more people could become malnourished as a consequence of the pandemic.

  • EMPTY STOMACH : To the 690 million people who go to bed each night on an empty stomach, perhaps another 100 million or more will be added.
  • AWAKENING CONSCIENCES : The Nobel Prize to the WFP will hopefully nudge our collective conscience to come together and relieve this looming humanitarian crisis.


  • EPICENTRE : The United Nations is at the centre of multilateral institutions and processes.It is celebrating the 75th anniversary of its founding.
  • SHADOWED VISION : While it is a pale shadow of the vision with which it was invested at its founding, nevertheless it has kept alive the notion of international solidarity and cooperation.
  • DOMINATION AT UN : If it has become increasingly marginal in mobilising international responses to global challenges, the fault lies with its most powerful member countries.
  • RESOURCE ALLOCATION : Powerful countries have deprived the UN of resources.They have resisted efforts to institute long overdue reforms.
  • THE POWER EQUATIONS : 75 years on, its structure no longer reflects the changes in power equations that have taken place.
  • OUTDATED POLICIES : It is anachronistic that a country such as India continues to be denied permanent membership of the Security Council.

And yet despite these disabilities ,the UN is now an essential part of the fabric of international relations.

  • MULTILATERAL APPROACHES : Its role has become even more important precisely because the salience of global issues have expanded .
  • CHILDREN OF SAME PLANET : India firmly believes that the path to achieve sustainable peace and prosperity is through multilateralism.


  • MULTILATERAL NETWORK : There is a network of multilateral institutions, several as part of the UN system. Others are inter-governmental in nature; still others may be non-governmental of a hybrid character.
  • EQUITABLE BURDEN SHARING : This network continues to function and deliver benefits to participating states despite the less than propitious international environment.

There are more complex challenges which would require a different mind-set and patterns of behaviour.

  • COMPETITION : While there are multilateral institutions they have become platforms for contestations among their member states.
  • CO-OPERATION : There is recognition of the need to cooperate but this is seen as compulsion rather than desirable.


  • MAXIMUM SENSITIVITY : Given the scale, urgency and seriousness of the challenges we confront, we need maximal, not minimal, responses.
  • DYNAMICS OF NEGOTIATIONS : The dynamics of negotiations and their outcomes would dramatically change if delegations came with a brief to contribute as much as possible within the limitation of resources .
  • DENSE INTERCONNECTIONS : This is the international solidarity which a globalised world requires to handle the dense interconnections that bind us.

The pandemic has triggered galloping globalisation in the digital economy .

  • NO ESCAPE FROM GLOBALISATION : Globalisation is driven by technology and as long as technology remains the key driver of economic growth, there is no escape from globalisation.
  • EXCHANGES : In tackling domestic challenges deeper external engagement is often indispensable.This is certainly true of climate change.

      IASbhai Windup: 


  • THE CONNECT : When one speaks of the rising salience of cross-national issues we must also take into account the inter-connectedness among various challenges.

Food, energy and water security are inter-linked with strong feedback loops .

  • SECURITY : Enhancing food security may lead to diminished water and energy security.It may also have collateral impact on health security.
  • RAISING YEILDS : Raising crop yields with current agricultural strategies means higher incremental use of chemical fertilizers and toxic pesticides.
  • HEALTH RISKS : 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.

It is in recognition of these inter-connections that the international community agreed on a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

  • A RAY OF HOPE : The SDGs are cross-domain but also cross-national in character, and hence demand greater multilateral cooperation in order to succeed.
  • FRUSTRATED SUCCESS : This also points to the need for a more democratic world order since lack of cooperation from even a single state may frustrate success in tackling a global challenge.
  • COLLABORATIONS : A fresh pandemic may erupt in any remote corner of the world .Prevention cannot be achieved through coercion, only through cooperation.

It is only multilateralism that makes this possible.

       SOURCES:   THE HINDU EDITORIAL HUNT | United Nations and Multilateralism | UPSC


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