Jaishankar says states, world bodies prevented collective response to challenges

He describes the pandemic as an unprecedented challenge

August 20, 2020 06:13 pm | Updated 07:33 pm IST - New Delhi

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar. File

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar. File

Individual behaviour of many states and old-styled multilateral organisations prevented a collective response to global challenges in a contemporary world, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said on Thursday.

In order to deal with the new global challenges, nation-states were rediscovering the merits of ideas like “strategic autonomy”, he stated at the 6th Roundtable Meeting of the ASEAN-India Network of Think Tanks (AINTT).

Also read:UN forecasts pandemic to shrink world economy by 3.2%

“The irony, however, is that just when multilateralism was most in demand, it did not rise to the occasion. If we saw little leadership, it was not just due to the admittedly anachronistic nature of key international organisations”, he noted.

Mr. Jaishankar described the current pandemic as an unprecedented challenge and blamed “individual behaviour of many states” for the failure of the multilateral organisations to come to the rescue of the pandemic-hit world.

The impact of COVID-19 on the world economy was still not clear and the contraction of the world economy would be the largest since the Great Depression of 1929. “None of us has seen a crisis of this proportion before, or indeed uncertainty of this level”, he pointed out.

Call to ASEAN

The Minister urged greater cooperation to counter challenges such as the pandemic and called for “collective solutions”. He highlighted the difficulties that were hindering strong response to deal with the pandemic and called upon the ASEAN countries to look beyond “orthodoxies” in trade, politics and security to find solution to the challenges. As part of that, he pointed to the idea of “strategic autonomy”, which created space for states to take the decision that was in their best interest.

“In fact, the concept of strategic autonomy that was once fashionable in a unipolar world has now assumed relevance once again in terms of global supply chains”, he said, adding that the behaviour of states in the pandemic season would determine the way they would be viewed by the world.

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