Stanley's blog

The following letter was published in the Financial Times on 12 January 2010:

From Mr Stanley Crossick.

Sir, Richard Haass recognises that multilateralism is necessarily superseding hegemony and bilateralism, but finds difficulty in identifying a multilateral system that works ( The case for messy multilateralism January 6th). There is only one solution: to remove the veto and allow decisions to be made by (qualified) majority. The composition of the majority can be flexible.

However, this necessarily involves a pooling of sovereignty – abhorred by the US on the grounds of its own exceptionalism, and by China as an interference with its domestic freedom.

Actually, voting by majority remains a last resort, as consensus should always be sought, but the threat of majority voting facilitates achieving consensus, as we see in the European Union.

This, then, is my version of functional multilateralism.

Stanley Crossick

Author :


  1. John
    You see that I have now published the letter. I don’t have ongoing access to Dr Corner’s letter but, from memory, agree its broad thrust

  2. Here is Dr. Corner’s letter. My question is: do you agree that with his penultimate paragraph – that we have to start with a SMALL number of nations and agree on a LIMITED, SPECIFIC sharing of sovereignty such as food security?


    Financial Times 13 January 2010

    Agreement rests on a willingness to share sovereignty
    Published: January 13 2010 02:00 | Last updated: January 13 2010 02:00
    From Dr Mark Corner.
    Sir, Richard Haass (“The case for messy multilateralism”, January 6) offers another in a series of articles in the FT about effective global governance. All of them, however, miss three essential points.
    The first is that in order to have agreements that are binding upon nations, you have to have a willingness to share sovereignty in certain areas and a legal body able to override national courts in those areas where sovereignty is shared, backing up its decisions with sanctions if necessary. The United Nations secretary-general Ban-Ki Moon himself recognised this when he bemoaned the fact that the UN could obtain nothing binding at the recent Copenhagen summit on climate change.
    The second point is that such effective multilateral organisations start small and grow slowly, as the European Union did by beginning with six nations sharing sovereignty in coal and steel and developing into a powerful block of 27 nations. Bodies such as the African Union or the UN, which start with everyone around a table and then try to see what they can agree upon, rarely manage to bind their members to doing anything.
    The third point is that the only way forward is with a global sovereignty-sharing body, beginning as a small number of nations and focusing on a specific area (food security would be an example), the equivalent of the EU’s coal and steel.
    If the EU wants a useful foreign policy role in 2010, it could help in the formation of a global body based on the limited sharing of sovereignty, the principle that lies at the heart of its own remarkable successes.
    Mark Corner,
    Brussels, Belgium

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