Despite Seventy-Years of Multilateralism and Global Leadership, Nationalism Still Prevails and Threatens Human Rights. Comment in Detail.

Despite Seventy-Years of Multilateralism and Global Leadership, Nationalism Still Prevails and Threatens Human Rights. Comment in Detail. by Rida Sharafat

Prevalent Threats of Nationalism to Humans | Daily Writeup | Opinions

The following article, “Despite Seventy-Years of Multilateralism and Global Leadership, Nationalism Still Prevails and Threatens Human Rights. Comment in Detail.”, is written by Rida Sharafat, a student of Sir Syed Kazim Ali. Moreover, the article is written on the same pattern, taught by Sir to his students, scoring the highest marks in compulsory subjects for years. Sir Kazim has uploaded his students’ solved past paper questions so other thousands of aspirants can understand how to crack a topic or question, how to write relevantly, what coherence is, and how to include and connect ideas, opinions, and suggestions to score the maximum.

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Outline

1-Introduction

2-Understanding the terms multilateralism and nationalism

  • Multilateralism: It refers to international cooperation involving three or more nations, often in the pursuit of common goals or solutions to global challenges.
  • Nationalism: It is a political ideology emphasizing the culture, interests, and identity of a particular nation, often placing it above international cooperation or global concerns.

3-A brief overview of the seventy years of multilateralism and global leadership

3.1-From post WW-II till Decolonization

  • Establishment of international institutions after the WW II
  •  Decolonization and emergence of new states

3.2-From 20th century till now

  •  Globalization and economic interdependence, along with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (1992) and Sustainable Development Goals (2015)
  • Challenges to multilateralism in recent decades

4-Why nationalism still prevails despite seventy years of multilateralism and global leadership?

  • Historical narratives
    • Case in point: Israeli-Palestinian conflict
  • Cultural preservation
    • Case in point: Baloch nationalism in Pakistan
  • Economic inequality and political exploitation
    • Case in point: Economic disparities in some states of India
  • Fear of globalization
    • Case in point: Global Financial Crisis in 2008
  • Geopolitical competition
    • Case in point: South China Sea dispute and India-Pakistan conflict over Kashmir

5-How does nationalism threaten human rights despite seventy years of multilateralism and global leadership?

  • Violation of minority rights
    • Case in point: Treatment of Uighur Muslims in China
  • Xenophobia and discrimination
    • Case in point: Discrimination against foreign workers in East Asian countries
  • Aggression and militarism
    • Case in point: Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014
  • Erosion of international cooperation  
    • Case in point: A decline in international cooperation hindering collective efforts to address pressing global issues, such as climate change, public health crises, and humanitarian emergencies, a glaring example

6-What measures should the world take collectively to protect human rights from the negative impacts of nationalism?

  • To promote human rights education and cultivate inclusive national narratives
  • To encourage media responsibility and counter disinformation
  • To enhance diplomacy and strengthen international cooperation
  • To protect minority rights and foster civic engagement

7-Conclusion

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Answer to the Question

1-Introduction

Multilateralism has been one of the critical pillars of global institutional architecture since the end of the World War II (WWII) and played a central role in promoting and sustaining peace and prosperity worldwide for over seventy years. In 1945, multilateral institutions like the United Nations (UN) were designed to prevent future conflicts, foster international cooperation, and promote collective efforts to address global challenges. Moreover, multilateralism has not been limited to political and security matters but extended to economic cooperation. Some institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB), have been created to facilitate development, global financial stability, and poverty reduction. Besides this, since the second half of the 20th century, global leadership has also taken measures to address humanitarian crises. For instance, efforts to prevent genocide and interventions in conflicts like the Balkans highlight the role of global leaders in protecting human rights. However, in the contemporary global landscape, it has been seen that the persistence of nationalism has posed a significant challenge to human rights principles. Despite the progress in international collaboration and the creation of multilateral institutions over the past seven decades, the persistence of nationalism has raised concerns regarding its influence on human rights. Different factors are considered behind the persistence of nationalism; for example, historical and cultural identity, security concerns, and economic insecurities. As nationalism has threatened the principles of human rights in different ways, like violations of minority rights, cultural and religious intolerance, and erosion of international cooperation, so there is a dire need for a multi-faceted approach to address the negative impacts of nationalism on human rights. That approach can include education, media responsibility, diplomacy, and legal safeguards for preventing and mitigating the adverse effects of nationalism on the globe. This answer highlights the maxim that nationalism still prevails and threatens human rights despite seventy years of multilateralism and global leadership.

2-Understanding the terms multilateralism and nationalism

Before moving further towards exploring the reasons and impacts of nationalism, it is essential to understand the concepts of some basic terms that are used in the question. So, the first term that needs to be understood is multilateralism. The term ‘Multilateralism‘, often defined in opposition to bilateralism and unilateralism, indicates a form of cooperation between at least three states. It involves the decision-making processes based on collaboration, where multiple nations work together to address common challenges, achieve shared goals, and negotiate agreements. Besides this, multilateralism is based on founding principles, such as consultation, inclusion, and solidarity. In short, multilateralism is both, a method of cooperation and a form of organization of the international system. The second important term is nationalism. The term ‘Nationalism’ has played an essential role in shaping historical and contemporary geopolitical landscapes. It is a political, social, and cultural ideology emphasizing the importance of a shared national identity, culture, history, and often a common language within a specific geographical territory. Moreover, it is often characterized by strong loyalty, pride, and attachment among individuals towards their nation. However, extreme nationalism can undermine collaborative efforts while effective multilateralism requires respect for national sovereignty and diverse perspectives. So, achieving a harmonious coexistence between these two paradigms is crucial to addressing the complex challenges of the interconnected world. 

3-A brief overview of the seventy years of multilateralism and global leadership

3.1-From post WW-II till Decolonization

Over the past seventy years, the world has witnessed a dynamic and complex interplay of multilateralism and global leadership. After WW II, establishing international institutions like the UN marked a pivotal historical moment. The creation of the UN signalled a commitment to multilateral cooperation to prevent conflicts and promote peace in the world. Moreover, financial institutions, like the World Bank and the IMF, aimed to stabilize the global economy and facilitate reconstruction. Though multilateralism faced challenges during the Cold War, multilateral forums became platforms for newly independent states to assert their voices and participate in global decision-making. As newly independent nations sought guidance, support, and global leadership adapted to the decolonization process.

3.2-From 20th century till now

Further, globalization increased in the late 20th century, when global leadership extended beyond political and military spheres to encompass economic interdependence, trade agreements, and technological advancements. For instance, establishing the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992 exemplifies multilateral efforts to address pressing global challenges. Besides this, adopting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015 reflected a commitment to comprehensive global development, addressing social, economic, and environmental challenges through collective action. Over the past seventy years, the international landscape has been profoundly influenced by multilateralism and global leadership principles. Still, the 21st century has brought challenges to multilateralism, like scepticism from significant powers, concerns about global inequality, and debates about the effectiveness of institutions. Despite the initial success of multilateralism, the world has seen a resurgence of nationalist sentiments in recent decades. Nationalism has reemerged, in various forms, as a potent force, challenging the ideals of collective global cooperation.

4-Why nationalism still prevails despite seventy years of multilateralism and global leadership?

After looking at seventy years of multilateralism and global leadership, it is necessary to know how nationalism reemerged and why it still prevails. The persistence of nationalism can be attributed to several complex historical, cultural, and geopolitical factors that shape the mindset of nations and individuals.

Historical Narratives

The most crucial reason behind the reemergence of nationalism is the historical background of a nation. Nationalism often has deep historical roots, stemming from past struggles for independence, shared historical narratives, and resistance to colonial rule. Additionally, national identity can be closely tied to a collective memory of historical events that foster a sense of unity and pride. For instance, the struggle of many African nations against colonial rule and the subsequent establishment of independent states show the historical roots of nationalism. Besides this, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is also deeply rooted in historical narratives as both sides invoke historical claims to the land. Nationalist sentiments on both sides often clash with international efforts to find a multilateral solution, contributing to the enduring nature of the conflict. So, these examples show that nationalism still prevails despite seventy years of multilateralism. 

Cultural Preservation

Another critical factor for the reemergence of nationalism is cultural preservation and a sense of belonging. Cultural factors, including traditions, language, and shared customs, play a crucial role in developing nationalism. Nationalism provides individuals with a sense of belonging and community and fosters a feeling of solidarity among people who share a common national identity, contributing to a sense of collective purpose and unity. For example, Baloch nationalism in Pakistan is rooted in the preservation of Baloch culture and identity. The Baloch people’s sense of belonging to a distinct cultural heritage contributes to nationalist sentiments that challenge the multilateral framework of the Pakistani state. Efforts are made to resist cultural assimilation and maintain a distinct Baloch identity. Thus, this example illustrates how a sense of belonging and cultural preservation contribute to nationalist sentiments, often conflicting with multilateral frameworks.

Economic Inequality and Political Exploitation

Besides this, political exploitation and economic inequalities have contributed to the reemergence of nationalism despite multilateralism and global leadership. Indeed, political leaders often leverage nationalist sentiments for their own gains, and nationalism can be a powerful tool for gathering public support, diverting attention from domestic issues, and consolidating political power. In the same way, economic disparities, both within and between nations, can fuel nationalist sentiments. Individuals who feel economically marginalized often turn to nationalist ideologies, and they view them as a means to protect their interests against perceived external threats. Economic uncertainties, like job insecurities and income inequality, can fuel nationalist sentiments. One case study that highlights the intersection of economic disparities and nationalism is the situation in India, particularly in the context of regional imbalances. States like Bihar, Jharkhand, and Odisha in eastern India, as well as some states in the north, have faced economic challenges. Political leaders in those economically disadvantaged regions often exploit these disparities for political gains. They frame economic issues as a result of central government policies that do not prioritize the economic development of their region. Therefore, political opportunism and financial insecurities within a country can sometimes become a focal point for nationalist sentiments.

Fear of Globalization

Additionally, the fear of globalization and geopolitical competition have contributed to the persistence of nationalism. Some individuals and communities consider globalization as a threat to national autonomy. The integration into global markets and international organizations can be seen as surrendering control over economic and political decisions to supranational entities. If there is an economic problem in one part of the world, it can spread and affect everyone. This can make people concerned about not having control over their own money and being unable to deal with issues in their country. For example, in the global financial crisis 2008, nations experienced the interconnectedness of their economies, with the crisis affecting countries worldwide. Thus, this led to concerns about economic dependency and vulnerability to global economic shifts.

Geopolitical Competition

Like the fear of globalization, geopolitical competition among nations for influence, resources, and strategic advantages has been a persistent factor influencing nationalist sentiments. The fear of scarcity often leads countries to adopt nationalist policies to secure access to vital resources. For instance, geopolitical competition in the South China Sea to access strategic waterways and potential energy resources has fueled tensions, and nations have adopted nationalist stances to assert their claims. Moreover, in pursuit of strategic interests, governments have adopted nationalist postures, emphasizing territorial integrity and military strength. This competition can undermine multilateral efforts as countries prioritize their own security concerns over collaborative solutions. The best example in this regard is the India-Pakistan conflict over Kashmir. Both nations have adopted nationalist postures, emphasizing territorial integrity and national pride in the competition for control over the disputed region of Kashmir. So, these examples illustrate how fears related to globalization and geopolitical competition have influenced nationalist sentiments and impacted international relations despite the existence of multilateral frameworks.

5-How does nationalism threaten human rights despite seventy years of multilateralism and global leadership?

Undoubtedly, the persistence of nationalism due to the abovementioned factors has posed a significant challenge to human rights despite seven decades of multilateralism and global leadership. Sadly, nationalism can be detrimental to the principles of human rights in many ways. Some of them are discussed here.

Violation of minority rights

First, nationalism often leads to exclusionary practices, where particular groups within a nation, particularly minorities, immigrants, and marginalized communities, are treated as outsiders. This exclusion can result in discrimination, denial of equal rights, and social injustice. Members of minority communities may face discrimination regarding access to education, employment, and participation in civic and political processes. For example, the Uighurs, a Muslim minority group in Xinjiang, China, have faced widespread human rights abuses. Reports and evidence suggest that the Chinese government has engaged in mass arbitrary detentions, surveillance, and cultural suppression of the Uighur population. Therefore, this treatment is attributed to policies driven by nationalistic ideologies that view the Uighurs as a threat to the Chinese nation’s unity.

Xenophobia and Discrimination

Similarly, nationalistic ideologies can foster xenophobia and discrimination against individuals from other nations or cultural backgrounds. This can result in the mistreatment of foreign nationals, refugees, and immigrants, infringing on their fundamental human rights. The impact of extreme nationalism is evident in instances where discriminatory practices and hostile environments have been created for those seeking refuge or a better life in a new country. Such actions undermine the principles of equality and non-discrimination. Reports show that nationalistic ideologies in some East Asian countries have contributed to discrimination against foreign workers, particularly those from specific regions. So, this discrimination infringes on the rights of foreign nationals, affecting their working conditions, access to social services, and overall well-being. 

Aggression and Militarism

Furthermore, extreme nationalism can contribute to aggressive foreign policies and militarism, leading to conflicts that result in human rights violations, including displacement, loss of life, and the erosion of civil liberties. In the contemporary era, the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 serves as an illustration of how extreme nationalism can contribute to aggression and militarism, leading to human rights violations. The annexation was driven by a nationalist narrative emphasizing historical ties and protecting Russian-speaking populations. The aggressive actions in Crimea resulted in the violation of human rights, which included the displacement of thousands, restrictions on freedom of expression, and political repression. Thus, despite seven decades of multilateralism and global leadership, nationalism can pose a significant threat to human rights by contributing to aggressive foreign policies and militarism.

Erosion of International Cooperation    

In addition, when nationalist sentiments prevail, multilateral institutions designed to uphold global norms and protect human rights have also faced challenges. Nations driven by nationalism also resist international mechanisms, weakening the effectiveness of collective efforts to safeguard human rights universally. This can lead to declining international cooperation, hindering collaborative efforts to address pressing global issues, such as public health crises, climate change, and humanitarian emergencies. For example, when nationalist considerations emerge, international climate change negotiations face disruptions. This resistance impedes the collaborative efforts required to effectively address the existential threat of climate change. Thus, extreme nationalism has posed significant threats to human rights on both national and global scales.

6-What measures should the world take collectively to protect human rights from the negative impacts of nationalism?

However, the challenges posed by nationalism necessitate efforts at different levels. So, multi-faceted approaches are required to address the negative impacts of nationalism on human rights.

To promote human rights education and cultivate inclusive national narratives

First, there is a dire need to enhance education on human rights, fostering a deeper understanding of diversity and inclusivity. To accomplish this, integration of human rights education into school curricula to raise awareness about the importance of tolerance, diversity, and respect for human rights is necessary. Moreover, countries should emphasize the universality of human rights principles to counteract exclusive nationalist ideologies. Such efforts will also address complex issues, such as public health crises, climate change, and humanitarian emergencies. Furthermore, another recommendation is to foster inclusive national narratives that celebrate diversity and acknowledge the contributions of various religious, ethnic, and cultural groups. Hence, highlighting histories and shared values can promote unity without marginalizing specific communities.

To encourage media responsibility and counter disinformation

Second, media literacy initiatives can equip citizens to discern between nationalist narratives and unbiased reporting. Encouraging responsible journalism that upholds human rights values is also needed. Responsible journalism and such media practices that avoid sensationalism and the promotion of divisive nationalistic ideologies can significantly counter the negative impacts of extreme nationalism. It is also necessary to develop strategies to counter disinformation and propaganda that may be used to fuel nationalist sentiments. Addressing the challenge of disinformation and propaganda, particularly those used to fuel nationalist sentiments, requires proactive strategies. The European Commission’s Action Plan against Disinformation outlines comprehensive measures, including enhancing media literacy, promoting fact-checking, and fostering cooperation with social media platforms to curb the spread of false information. These strategies aim to mitigate the negative impacts of disinformation on public opinion, thereby challenging the foundations of extreme nationalism.

To enhance diplomacy and strengthen international cooperation

Third, for the coexistence of nationalism and multilateralism to protect human rights from the impacts of extreme nationalism, substantial measures should be taken to enhance diplomacy and strengthen international cooperation. Countries should prioritize diplomatic solutions to conflicts and disputes, emphasizing dialogue over aggression. Open communication channels between nations can help dispel misconceptions and reduce tensions fueled by extreme nationalist rhetoric. Besides this, the states should actively engage in and support international cooperation through multilateral institutions like the UN, IMF, and the World Bank. The report by the Brookings Institution emphasizes the effectiveness of multilateralism in addressing transnational challenges like climate change, public health crises, and economic inequality. Effective leadership can set the standards for international relations and shape policies that respect human rights. In this way, the collaborative approach can help demonstrate the benefits of working together to address shared global challenges and dispel the notion that isolationism is a superior strategy.

To protect minority rights and foster civic engagement

Last but not least, a recommendation to overcome the impacts of the persistence of nationalism on human rights is to protect minority rights and foster civic engagement. According to the research published in the International Journal of Human Rights emphasizes the importance of protecting minority rights as a fundamental aspect of upholding human rights universally. So, legal frameworks protecting the rights of minority groups must be implemented and strengthened. Moreover, all countries should encourage civic engagement and participation in decision-making processes because inclusive governance structures that reflect diverse voices can help counteract the exclusionary tendencies associated with extreme nationalism. Evidence from the European Network against Racism (ENAR) highlights the positive correlation between civic engagement and the protection of minority rights. ENAR’s reports demonstrate that societies with active civic participation are more likely to resist discriminatory policies and promote social inclusion, contributing to the overall protection of human rights. So, societies can work towards preventing the negative impact of extreme nationalism on human rights and foster a more inclusive and tolerant world by implementing these measures. 

7-Conclusion

In a nutshell, despite the monumental achievements of multilateral institutions in preventing conflicts, fostering cooperation, and addressing global challenges, the resilience of nationalist sentiments poses an ever-present threat to human rights. Establishing multilateral institutions, such as the United Nations, aimed to foster international cooperation, prevent conflicts, and address global challenges comprehensively. However, the resurgence of nationalism, driven by historical, cultural, and geopolitical factors, has posed a significant challenge to human rights, seen in the form of violations of minority rights, cultural intolerance, and erosion of international cooperation. This enduring strength of nationalist ideologies threatens human rights globally, leading to exclusionary practices, discrimination, and aggressive foreign policies. Thus, addressing the negative impacts of nationalism on human rights requires multi-faceted approaches that align with the principles of multilateralism, emphasizing collaboration, inclusivity, and the universality of human rights. In short, creating a harmonious global community to address shared challenges for the betterment of humanity is the ultimate goal of the day.

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