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Event on multilateralism, september 2019 - Photo:Mission of Norway to the EU
Mr. Petr Chalupecky, Mr. Gustav Lindström, Lt. Gen. Esa Pulkkinen, and Ms. Madalene O'Donnell Mission of Norway to the EU

Multilateralism, peace and security

What can EU, NATO and the UN do to uphold and reform multilateralism in conflict prevention and crisis management? That was the question up for discussion at Tuesday’s panel discussion at Norway House.

| Brussels

The event - multilateralism in peace and security - is the second in a series of three panel discussions on multilateralism as a solution to global crisis, organized by Finland's Presidency of the Council of the EU and the Mission of Norway to the EU - together with Denmark, Iceland and Sweden.

Norway’s ambassador to the EU, Rolf Einar Fife had a clear message when he welcomed the participants at Norway House.

- International politics have become more unpredictable. There is more instability and greater unrest in the international system. In particular, rules-based international cooperation is under pressure. Yet, the core of international cooperation is that we commit ourselves beyond our own, limited self-interest. Our common security and welfare depend on it, Fife said.

History of cooperation

To face these challenges, there is a need to work differently in order to safeguard both Norwegian and global interests.

Historically, international organizations have a tradition of working together – and the EU, NATO and UN are no exception. According to Gustav Lindström, director of the European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS) and the evening’s moderator, there is a clear map for collaboration between the three organizations.

- While EU and NATO already have 74 common proposals for collaborations across several areas, the UN and EU has a road map that covers everything from collaboration in peace and security and all the way to strengthening cooperation in missions and operations in the field, Lindström said.

Conflict prevention and crisis management

So what can EU, NATO and the UN do to uphold and reform multilateralism in conflict prevention and crisis management?

According to the three panelists, both EU, NATO and the UN have different set of tools at their disposal. The challenge facing the multilateral cooperation is to figure out how to use these tools in the best way to better cooperation, coordination and coherence between them.

One of the panelists, Petr Chalupecky, head of the NATO and Multilateral Affairs (NAMA) section in the Political Affairs and Security Policy Division (PASP) to NATO argued that the way to make multilateralism more effective is by securing the buy in from national states for multilateral solutions.

- We can secure the buy in from nation states by showing them that multilateralism actually works, that it often multiplies national interests and agendas, and that it is cheaper and more effective to pursue more specific agendas for multilateral solutions, he said.


Along with Chalupecky in the panel were Lieutenant General Esa Pulkkinen, director general of the EU Military Staff (EUMS), EEAS, and Madalene O'Donnell, team leader for partnerships in the Department of Peace Operations, Division of Policy, Evaluation and Training (DPO/DPET) in the UN.

The burden sharing in peace operations within the Security Council is according to Ms. O’Donnell the ultimate expression of multilateralism.

- In the midst of a difficult multilateral climate, we introduced our current reform for peacekeeping - the Action for Peacekeeping (A4P). We entered into that with some trepidation because it really is a member state oriented set of commitments, but we saw the importance of renewing our commitments to peacekeeping in this changing environment. So even in this difficult moment, more than 150 organizations have signed off and committed to the new agenda, she said.

Implementing the EU Global Strategy

As part of its Presidency of the Council of the EU, Finland wishes to support the High Representative of the EU in implementing the EU Global Strategy and its calls for more effective multilateralism, and upholding the global rule based order.

- For us it is key that the EU champions multilateral solutions and steps up its contribution to conflict prevention and uses all of its external action instruments in a comprehensive and coherent manner, said Hanna Lehtinen, Finland's Ambassador to the PSC.

The Foreign Affairs Council adopted Council Conclusions on “EU action to strengthen rules-based multilateralism” on 17 June 2019. One of the concrete steps the Conclusions foresee is that the EU and its Member States will reinforce the EU's role in bolstering international security through conflict prevention, peacekeeping and crisis management. In order to do this, the EU will seek to enhance the effectiveness of multilateral engagement for peace and security through strengthened partnerships with the UN and NATO among others.

Norwegian white paper

The unrest and instability in the international arena that ambassador Fife talked about is also the reason why Norway on July 14 published a white paper on Norway’s role and interests in the multilateral system.

The white paper states that the conditions for international cooperation are changing due to a decline in US and European power and the shift of the economic center of gravity to the East. In addition, more countries are choosing bilateral instead of multilateral solutions. The strategic rivalry between the US and China could be protracted and could have serious consequences for the multilateral system. The world has become less predictable, and International responses to crises and conflicts have become complex, involving a broader array of multilateral actors and interventions than before.

Read more about the Norwegian white paper on multilateralism