Towards a New Democratic Multilateralism


                                            Revisiting the Bandung principles in today’s fractured world

MEDIA RELEASE, New Delhi                                                                                                                                   24 April 2017


New Delhi. A symposium was organised on 24 April by Council for Social Development (CSD), India International Centre, and South Solidarity Initiative of ActionAid India to commemorate the Bandung Declaration of Ten Principles adopted by Asian and African countries on this day in 1955. The panel at the symposium included eminent academics who reflected on the current state of the multilateral order, and posited ideas for a new multilateralism which is dynamic, equitable and most importantly, based on the ideals underpinning the formation of the United Nations.


Panelists recalled the significance of the Bandung Conference where developing countries committed to peace, sovereignty, and solidarity for the economic and social development of their people, and which propelled other historical moments such as the formation of the Non-aligned movement. Prof Muchkund Dubey, President of CSD and former Foreign Secretary expressed disappointment that the values that marked this multilateralism have since drastically eroded and the institutional structure enfeebled. He said that unilateralism cannot be supplanted by plurilateralism- a few dominant powers shaping global governance- under any circumstances, and the solution to the rupture in the world order is a democratic form of multilateralism.


Reflecting on the crisis of the global economic order and its contributing factors, Prof Sunanda Sen, former Professor of Economics at JNU and ICSSR National Fellow highlighted the unfinished project of the economic autonomy of the South, which was partly a reaction to the uneven terms of trade imposed by developed countries, and partly a search for self-reliance, but was abandoned in the 1980s leading to the continued impoverishment of the global South. Prof B.S. Chimni, Professor of International Law at JNU questioned whether the prevailing form of multilateralism is serving the global common good, when a small minority is reaping the benefits of globalization to the detriment of the many. He too cautioned against moving towards unilateralism due to the failings of the current world order. In addition, Prof Manoranjan Mohanty, former Professor of Political Science at Delhi University pointed out that the three greatest challenges facing the world today namely, terrorism, climate change, and rising inequalities merit greater multilateralism than ever before. Therefore, developing countries and so-called Southern forums such as BRICS need to reaffirm the Bandung spirit and work closely together.

The audience was also addressed by the Ambassador of Venezuela, H. E. Augusto Montiel. He reiterated the need to revitalize the movement and principles of Bandung, and also exhorted states to revisit the vision of multilateralism enshrined in the UN charter to ensure co-existence with dignity and prosperity.


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