Summits: high? | Opinion | THE COUNTRY


Some leaders during the G7 meeting in Cornwall (United Kingdom), last June.
Some leaders during the G7 meeting in Cornwall (United Kingdom), last June.POOL (REUTERS)

In his book Summits, published more than 10 years ago, Cambridge history professor David Reynolds toured six “pinnacle” citations in the 20th century. From the meeting between Neville, Chamberlain and Hitler in 1938, when the Second World War was coming, to that of Reagan with Gorbachev, passing through Yalta 1945 and three other greats. High-level meetings whose results could and did affect millions of people.

Starting in 2022, one wonders if multilateral or, perhaps, bilateral meetings are on the agenda for the year, which could change the turn of things or the fate of millions of people. Or, at least, substantially influence its evolution. The world, we know, is happily not found by entering or exiting a world conflagration. But, keeping the distances, the sources of uncertainties are many and the scheduled meetings are too.

A key issue to take into account is the weakening of multilateralism at different levels; both global and regional. The outlook, then, is doubtful as to the impact of these encounters on the course of things.

If during the cold war the debates and initiatives before the United Nations Security Council deserved priority attention in the news and in the focus of analysts, today they hardly appear in the daily news reports. The strength and relevance of this institutionalized multilateralism seemed to have been, to a great extent, in what it had of space for processing the effects of the cold war.

Therefore, the relatively attenuated attention that the important Joint Declaration, published this Monday, of the “leaders of the five nuclear-weapon States on the prevention of nuclear war and the avoidance of nuclear weapons is not surprising. the arms race ”. That is, no less than the five permanent members of the Security Council: China, the United States of America, the Russian Federation, France and Great Britain.

Those who “cut the ham” on nuclear arsenals by committing not to use them. Important initiative and accurate content. But off the hook for more public debate or known repercussions. And without follow-up on decisions to be adopted, for example, in the UN Security Council. So much so that the Joint Declaration is not even mentioned in the United Nations Security Council chapter. To “step on the ground” it would have to have articulated follow-up with situations that should be being the subject of very serious decisions within the UN; for example, the tensions Russia / Ukraine or in Kazakhstan.

This week, in the newspaper Clarion, the sociologist Juan Gabriel Tokatlian made an interesting synthesis of some summits that come in the world within this context of erosion of multilateralism.

Let’s go to those of “the Americas”. In these parts it would seem that there are, in reality, two processes that are going in parallel and not in a convergent perspective. On the one hand, a succession of regional, inter-American or global summits that concern Latin American countries: CELAC’s foreign minister’s summit this Thursday and Friday, starting the year; IX Summit of the Americas in the US or the XXVIII Ibero-American Summit in the Dominican Republic. It is not clear what will come out of each of them, their political and institutional objectives, and even which states will participate and which will not. What has transpired about the CELAC summit refers more to institutional matters (the Presidency to be elected) than substantive ones. We will see.

On the other hand, a dynamic parallel to summits like these, outside the official multilateral institutional framework. That is to say, the strategies and actions of each country outside of multilateral spaces to process commercial, financial or migratory matters. Perhaps, triggered by the health and economic emergencies linked to the pandemic.

But the fact is that the countries – all of them – seem to prioritize international plans and strategies for unilateral action, detached from multilateral agreements and thus weakening their capacity for action and negotiation. There has been no progress, for example, in designing and managing urgent extraordinary regional financing plans such as those adopted in Europe and the United States.

In this scenario of sustained blurring of multilateralism, Europe is not alien either. In the face of sustained democratic erosion in Hungary or Poland, Brussels reacted with astonishing complacency. Only when authoritarianism became too galloping and confrontational, by rejecting the judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union, that Europe begins to react with more explicit and even punitive measures.

Tokatlian mentions two important meetings outside the Latin American region of global relevance and that could perhaps have an impact. They are linked to sensitive security and defense issues and risks of conflict. Less obvious than the Chamberlain / Hitler thing of 1938 but with big substantive issues on hand. These are two summits, symptomatically parallel and not convergent: that of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and that of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

NATO has revived as a space of tension since the end of the cold war. This is given the current friction with Russia over the possibility of NATO advancing in its expansion and incorporating Ukraine. NATO will update at that meeting nothing less than its “strategic concept.”

The SCO, for its part, is a “Eurasian” coordination space of eight countries made up of China, Russia, plus four former Soviet republics, India and Pakistan. An organization that is different from the one known as the “NATO of the Russians”: the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a political-military organization promoted by Russia and also made up of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The latest news is that “peacekeepers” from Russia and the CSTO will begin to operate this week in Kazakhstan in the face of social protests and violence in recent days.

Uncertainties, then, in 2022 in these international scenarios. And additional symptoms of a new cold war in the face of which a new Latin American “non-alignment” could be found for which there is still no agenda.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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