This paper includes essential history of how the multilateral world has evolved over the last 150 years, followed by an examination of several types of multilateral systems: the United Nations and related organizations (including the World Bank group and the International Monetary Fund), and the World Trade Organization; regional organizations; and cross-cutting multilateral or plurilateral groupings with more limited, generally consultative purposes, such as the Group of Seven and BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India and China). It concludes with some reflections on the implications for multilateralism of a defection from its attractions and principles by key actors.

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CIGI Papers present in-depth analysis and discussion on governance-related subjects. They include policy papers that present CIGI experts' positions or contributions to policy debates, and background papers that contain research findings, insights and data that contribute to the development of policy positions.
  • David M. Malone joined the United Nations University (UNU) on March 1, 2013 as its sixth rector. In that role, he holds the rank of UnderSecretary-General of the United Nations. A Canadian national, Rector Malone holds a B.A.A. from l’École des Hautes Études Commerciales (Montreal); an Arabic Language Diploma from the American University (Cairo); an M.P.A. from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University; and a D.Phil. in international relations from Oxford University.

  • Rohinton P. Medhora is president of the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), joining in 2012. He served on CIGI's former International Board of Governors from 2009 to 2014. Previously, he was vice president of programs at Canada’s International Development Research Centre.