Great Decisions 2011 Fall Updates: Making Sense of Multilateralism

In June, the Group of 20 agreed to take steps to alleviate the global food crisis and to mitigate volatility in food prices. After intense negotiation, an agreement was reached to lift restrictions on humanitarian exports and to begin compiling a database of food stocks. Food costs have been affected by the political turmoil in the Middle East, and a spate of natural disasters across the world, including drought, floods and fire.


Efforts to safeguard human rights during the Arab Spring crackdowns have largely been channeled through multilateral action. The UN has placed sanctions on Libya, but not Syria. The UN also recommended that allegations of human rights violations in Syria should be referred to the International Criminal Court for prosecution. On August 23, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights ordered an inquiry into possible crimes against humanity committed by security forces. When President Obama called for Syrian President Assad to step down, within minutes the call was echoed by the EU, Britain, France and Germany.


The Group of 7—comprised of the finance ministers of the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Britain—took action to respond to the European debt crisis as well as the U.S. downgrade. In an effort to control the economic crisis, the European Central Bank has stepped in to buy the sovereign debt of ailing eurozone countries.

Note: The Great Decisions fall Updates were researched as of 8/25/2011.