Published September 2019
Multilateralism: An instrument of choice
By Bruce Jenks

Bruce Jenks is a Senior Advisor at the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation. He has been an adjunct professor at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs since 2010. He is also a visiting Professor at the University of Geneva’s International Organisation MBA programme. Jenks has co-authored studies on ‘UN Development at a Crossroads‘, on ‘Rethinking the UN for a Networked World’ and on the future of multilateralism. He has been co-lead for five successive annual reports on the ‘Financing the UN Development System’. Bruce Jenks served as Assistant Secretary-General at UNDP, responsible for UNDP’s relationship with its Executive Board, as well as its donors. He has a PhD from Oxford University. He has been a guest speaker at universities and conferences in over 50 countries and has authored numerous articles and policy papers.

Bilateralism vs Multilateralism: these are usually thought of as opposites.You are for one or the other. There is an undertone that if it is serious you do it bilaterally. This is fundamentally mistaken. Multilateralism is a hard option. To be effective, multilateralism must be a choice that is made because it is the most effective or efficient instrument available to a government. Countries should work multilaterally when it is the most effective way to meet a challenge.