Edited by James Sperling
Chapter 4: Multilateral governance
Since the creation of United Nations system, actors in world politics have relied even more on the construction of multilateral agreements to face collective challenges. Such a tendency accelerated in the 1970s and has become a wide, complex and variegated reality since the end of the Cold War. It is for this reason that since the early 1990s IR scholars have devoted a great deal of attention to the concept of ‘multilateralism’. So much so that it would be difficult today to confirm James Caporaso’s statement of 1992 that ‘the treatment of multilateralism in the scholarly international relations literature is less than would be expected on the basis of its observed importance in the world’ (Caporaso 1992: 600). Scholarship first debated the concept of multilateralism with an aim to identify its peculiarities with respect to a generic form of cooperation among states (Caporaso 1992; Ruggie 1992, 1993); it later devoted attention to the study multilateral cooperation in specific thematic areas – such as international trade (Wilkinson 2002), climate change (Eckersley 2012), the war on terror (Rosand and von Einsiedel 2010) or nuclear non-proliferation (Wing 2010). Great attention has been given to the specific role played by the USA in the creation, maintenance and/or transformation of multilateralism (Ikenberry 2003, 2011; Price 2004/05; Ruggie 1994).
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