Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry participated, on Saturday, as a keynote speaker in the “Multilateralism and Regional Security in a Shifting Framework” session in the 17th IISS Manama Dialogue in Bahrain’s capital Manama.
Shoukry’s speech dealt with the emergence and development of multilateral frameworks, starting with the emergence of the League of Nations in response to the horrors of World War I, and then its development after World War II to what became the most important system in the world, which was embodied in the United Nations (UN) with its charter and well-known mechanisms.
This coincided with the emergence of regional action systems, starting with the Arab League, passing through the Organization of African Unity (AU), and ending with the establishment of the European Union (EU).
He indicated that the emergence of these organizations and gatherings was a reflection of the conditions and challenges of their environment and surrounding world, whether in terms of priorities or work tools and mechanisms.
Shoukry added that the experiences of collective international work have demonstrated its feasibility and centrality in several stages; Examples include the roles of the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council in settling international and regional conflicts and the role of United Nations organizations and agencies in providing humanitarian and relief assistance, medicines and vaccines, and supporting women and children.
He referred to the role of the Arab League in enhancing cooperation, supporting regional stability, supporting the independence and liberation of Arab countries from colonialism, and contributed to containing many Arab crises and settling differences among its members.
He pointed out that the UN system faced obstacles and experienced not easy failures, and the most prominent example of this is the course of international dealing with the Palestinian issue.
He said that the international system is still failing to find just solutions to a number of armed conflicts, and has not been able to achieve due justice in distributing the burdens of climate change, or distributing vaccines, or other issues related to the sustainable development agenda.
The Foreign Minister pointed out that today’s world is facing an escalation in the risks associated with cross-border terrorism, which works to fragment societies and demolish the concepts of the nation state, in favor of promoting reactionary ideas.
He said that in the face of this terrorism, the importance of uniting all international efforts to confront terrorism in a serious and resolute manner, to dry up its sources and protect all humanity from its imminent dangers.
Shoukry explained that today’s world is also facing the challenge of climate change, which has become a tangible reality, and its consequences have become a threat to economic development and food security and a source of conflict over scarce resources that may amount to a threat to international peace and security.
He pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic has placed unimaginable burdens on the global health situation and represented an unconventional threat.
It proved once again that the challenges differed, and that human solidarity and coordination towards them is mandatory and even existential.
He pointed out that these challenges are multiplying adding to them the issues of illegal immigration, cyber and digital security, challenges of artificial intelligence, genetic modifications, space security and others.
Minister Shoukry affirmed that there is international recognition of the urgent need to develop and modernize multilateral international and regional frameworks.
He added that there is a need to adopt new priorities and topics on the international agenda, in addition to existing priorities and files that respond to emerging and non-traditional challenges.
Shoukry stressed that the most important of these challenges are the conflicts over limited natural resources, such as cross-border rivers and the issues of migration and unemployment; and the need to allow more space for intergenerational justice in international decision-making.
He said that the multilateral system must also commit to, and even respect, the comprehensiveness of work to provide and protect all human rights, within a comprehensive concept and through an approach based on objectivity and impartiality to ensure that all peoples of the world enjoy their rights guaranteed by international conventions.
At the conclusion of his speech, Minister Shoukry indicated that the success or failure of multilateral action in facing the aforementioned challenges will have a direct impact on regional security in all regions of the world.
He pointed to the necessity of having the political will of the members of the international community, individually and collectively, to uphold the values of justice and cooperation, especially since it is not possible to formulate the future based on the literature of managing international relations that prevailed in past eras and circumstances.
Shoukry said that the current challenges threaten the survival of humanity, and therefore it is necessary to formulate a multilateral system based on cooperation and awareness of a common destiny, and that respect for difference and privacy enriches capabilities and increases chances of success and moving towards a brighter tomorrow.