6 and 10 June 2011, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  UNITAR Executive Director, Carlos Lopes, visiting Singapore and Malaysia next week for a series of high-level meetings, was invited to deliver public lectures on challenges to multilateralism by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (Singapore) on 6 June and Malaysian Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations on 10 June.

The lectures will discuss a qualitative change in international order over the past two decades and a new discourse that has gained prominence in the international relations theory and that emphasizes a rapidly changing global environment characterized by an ever-growing confluence of world-scale challenges. The challenges that range from widespread poverty and undernourishment, financial and economic crisis, climate change impact, human insecurity, armed conflicts, organized crime, drug trafficking, corruption and many others are linked in inextricable ways. New technologies and transportation revolution further exert a profound influence on these linkages increasing at the same time a sense of interconnectedness within the human community to unprecedented levels.

There are at least five broad areas where important megatrends have become visible including 1) financial and economic regulatory framework failures, 2) lack of decisive solutions to the climate change issue aggravated by the global spread of consumerist society patterns, 3) transformation of the traditional peacekeeping concept and opening up of new opportunities as a result of revisited linkages between peace, justice and human rights, 4) demographic trends, increased mobility, and its impact on identities, and 5) the power of new technologies transforming our life styles, value systems, and creating new opportunities and challenges.

The global and interconnected character of the 21st century challenges calls for solutions transcending national borders. There is a need for renewed multilateralism that would, among other, be based on an integrated approach as opposed to the traditional thematic clustering and isolated handling of the problems, that would embrace the concept of Global Public Goods, and that would promote the effective use of partnerships with multiple state and non-state stakeholders. The very notion of sovereignty is currently being affected by these multiple crises, and the renewed multilateralism should first and foremost be conducive to the shaping of more effective and equitable global governance structures.