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Reports on Conference/Seminars

Name of Event:
  India-EU Forum on Effective Multilateralism  

  8-9 October 2009

  Sapru House, New Delhi

The Indian Council for World Affairs (ICWA) and the European Union Institute of Security Studies (EUISS) jointly hosted a two day conference titled 'India- European Union Forum on Effective Multilateralism' on October 8-9, 2009 at ICWA, New Delhi. The dialogue between the two institutions is part of their ongoing interactions that commenced in 2008, and will continue as established in the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the two institutions, with the aim of contributing to the realization of the multilateral dimension of the EU-India Partnership.

The participants in the first Forum presented papers and structured the discussion along the following themes:

- Building a New Paradigm for EU-India Relations - From Trade & Development Cooperation to    a Meaningful Strategic Partnership.
- Reform of the International System – The Quest for Democratization
- Climate Change and Sustainable Development; and the Financial and Economic Crisis
- EU and India Contribution to UN Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding - Principles for a Common    Effort.
-Anti-terrorism and International Values: Lessons Learned & Prospects for Institutional   Cooperation between India and the EU.

This report is a preliminary account of the corresponding debates that took place during the Forum, since the organizing institutions are planning to publish a compilation of the papers submitted by participants in the coming months. The main points and recommendations can be summarized as follows:
Changing Paradigm in India-EU Relations
There was a consensus among the participants that both India and EU share common perspectives on multiculturalism, diversity and plural societies. They also share common beliefs such as commitment to democratic principles, judicial values, safeguarding human rights, human development, and a vibrant media. Both partners endorse multilateralism as the guiding principle of their dialogues process. However, remaining misperceptions and a partially obsolete paradigm may constitute obstacles to a more substantial and strategic cooperation, especially on security issues.

In order to give full content to the EU-India strategic partnership both the EU and India need proactive foreign policy establishments. The EU is a complex entity combining supra-nationalism and inter-governmentalism, which makes it difficult for other actors to relate to it, especially considering that Member States compete among themselves through more traditional channels. India is, on the other hand, a sovereign state, for whom preserving independence is important. At least at the level of discourse, the EU sees effectiveness in terms of following well-established rules; likewise India too supports internationally accepted rules.

Both India and EU are contracting parties in several multilateral treaties and the ICWA-EUISS forum attempted to identify areas of mutual interest and deliberate on the need for effective multilateralism for the pursuit of collective good. India and EU are well placed to tackle global issues such as international security, disarmament, counter terrorism, W.T.O. negotiations, global governance, and management of multicultural relations. Further, the 2005 India- EU Joint Action Plan (JAP) provides a sound framework for effective cooperation and consultation. However, to foster effectiveness in India-EU relations, a new paradigm would have to be explored to advance common interest in which both actors build on their complementarities. There is a need to leave aside a relationship exclusively based on development cooperation and technology transfer in order to take full account of the importance of India as a regional and global actor.
Multilateralism and Global Governance  
Two global challenges in the last decade have underlined the necessity of effective multilateralism but also the weakness of the current state of multilateralism: the so called 'war on terror'; and the current financial crisis. The concept of effective multilateralism emerged as the basic doctrine of the EU. deliberations and since 2003 it has been the basis for EU’s external relations, with an aim to expressing the global need of delivering international institutions and momentous international action. It is widely acknowledged today that traditional global actors –i.e. the United States and the EU- cannot manage world affairs without emerging players (mainly Brazil, China, India, and South Africa). This can be best achieved through an effective multilateralism pivoting on dialogue between all relevant actors. The time has come for multi-polarity, while global poles need to embrace multilateralism in order to solve global problems.

The international system is experiencing a crucial shift of power from the West to the East, while different global actors are emerging in other regions, but neither new institutions have been created nor have the existing ones been substantially reformed. A specific response to this mismatch is the G-20, which was equated during the discussions both with ‘club governance’ -with limited membership and exclusivity- and ‘light multilateralism’ –a kind of less bureaucratic form of multilateralism. On the one hand, the G-20 needs to promote multilateralism in order to strengthen its legitimacy, and prove that it can implement the decisions it takes; on the other hand, it cannot replace the UN, but should be seen as a consensus-seeking forum for a transitional period towards an appropriate restructuring of the world order. In this context, it may also be necessary to find a balance between expansion of its membership and efficiency.

In the 21st century, the international system also needs to be more democratic through greater participation. While a relevant number of countries are rising together and a new world order is on its way, in which increasing interdependence has further intensified economic transaction, the EU -that is, EU Member States- is over-represented in global forums and spend much energy in finding a common position due to complex internal bargaining processes. In that context, the quest for democratization should be pragmatic rather than idealistic. It was expressed that the EU should support the expansion of the UNSC and India, Japan, South Africa and Brazil as permanent members, but new ways of decision-making should be explored in parallel in order to avoid paralysis.

Moreover, full use should be made of those organs and institutions which enjoy a fair measure of democratization, such as the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, the Human Rights Council and the G-20. Some international institutions, specifically the financial ones, should be led by individuals from developing countries in order to help overcome the democratic deficit. New democratic paradigms would also facilitate moving towards amicable trade consultation and getting forward to W.T.O. negotiation. The need for a rule based international system is thus critical.
Democratization and Human Rights; and Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding  
Internal democracy within countries should have an impact on the scope and depth of democratization internationally. India and the EU share common perspectives on democracy. Both partners endeavour to build institutions and civil society organizations for the advancement of democracy. India, as a principle, does not export democracy to its neighbours; rather it encourages its neighbours to understand the benefits of democratic process through its own example. Although Europe seems to be more pro-active on this, including eagerness for aid conditionality in certain circumstances and democratic clauses in international agreements, it generally applies in practice the ‘model’ of democracy promotion.

Ethnic violence, conflicts among societies, failing states and unstable regimes are issue of concern for both India and EU. The two partners can play a significant role through UN mandated peace keeping and peace building processes. In that context, India’s participation in U.N. peacekeeping operations has been noteworthy and it has expanded its role from providing troops for peace keeping to duties of training UN peace-keepers. The principle of peacebuilding may also help find some level of convergence between the two visions. India's efforts in Afghanistan are labelled, by some, as democracy promotion, which can also be applied to the security sector reform (SSR) approach of the EU police mission. However, NATO’s intervention in Afghanistan has been an issue of concern, since it has not been able to bring about stability in Afghanistan. As a policy, India does not intervene in the affairs of another country; instead it supports UN mandated initiatives.

EU and India agree that they both need to act as responsible powers in the international system, although they do not always have equivalent perceptions of what it means to act responsibly. Concrete measures are needed to work to protect civilians in conflict zones and to prevent mass violations of human rights. Humanitarian intervention and the principle of the 'responsibility to protect' (R2P) are two important elements of responsible actions of the EU security doctrine as revised in December 2008, while India tends to perceive underlying strategic and imperial interests in some of these actions. Nevertheless, views are converging: initially India only supported the idea of 'responsibility to protect' in cases of genocide, but has gradually adopted a more positive or progressive view of it during the last meeting devoted to it by the UN General Assembly in July this year.
Fight against Terrorism  
Terrorism is a major challenge for both India and the EU and both sides must develop effective counter-terrorism strategies. EU-India counterterrorism cooperation has so far been bilateral rather than multilateral, and it has only improved after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 in New York and 26/11 in Mumbai. The EU general approach to counter-terrorism does not involve international armed action, but is based on rule of law and human rights. There is as well agreement both in India and the EU in the preference for multilateralism in addressing terrorism, along the lines of the UN's Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, as well as for comprehensiveness, which includes prevention as to tackle radicalization and protection of potential targets.

The role of international criminal justice is increasingly relevant in counterterrorism activities as can be seen by examples such as the Special Court in Lebanon investigating the murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the Iraqi president asking for a special UN court to investigate the August 19 bombing, and efforts to set up a special chamber for terrorist crimes. The International Criminal Court (ICC) could thus be explored as a framework for settling international disputes, since it does not have a formal mandate to deal with terrorism. It is also important to stress the principle of universal jurisdiction, in particular the obligation of extradite or judge suspects of terrorism, in order to prevent impunity.
Energy Security and Climate Change  
Apart from economic and political problems that India and the EU face, common challenges of energy security and climate change merit attention. Energy is an important factor for development and improving the Human Development Index and climate change has long term impacts on economic growth, social development and political stability. The role of multilateral institutions in addressing global issues of energy security and climate change need to be enhanced. It remains to be seen if forums such as the G-20 can provide a platform to address issues of common concern such as energy security and climate change in spite of the move towards global governance. Climate change has not been addressed by the G-20 until very recently in the meetings in London and then Pittsburgh. However, neither Pittsburgh nor Bangkok saw much progress on key goals such as the financing or on the emission reduction targets.

The contributions of both India and the EU to halt climate change could be coordinated in view of the Copenhagen Summit, but the US stand on the climate change may render it more difficult. By 2030, India will have a population of 1.4 billions, and will have experienced a mean annual growth of around 8%. Therefore, its energy needs are expected to rise sevenfold. Its National Action Plan on Climate Change intends to increase the environmental sustainability of this growth, including measures such as a sharp increase in solar electricity by 2020, for which it has obviously a great potential. The EU is committed to reducing its overall emissions to at least 20% below 1990 levels by 2020, and is ready to scale up this reduction to as much as 30% under a new global climate change agreement when other developed countries make comparable efforts. It has also set itself the target of increasing the share of renewables in energy use to 20% by 2020.
Conclusions and Recommendations  
While the two powers engage in multilateral initiatives, it is pertinent to mention that the EU is a ‘new’ entity while India is a sovereign state. Thus, there are differences in addressing the issues of common concern. In such a situation it is necessary to create groups and partnership for research that explore these issues jointly. Civil society exchanges and role for youth can further augment the efforts of both partners to develop common understanding and responses to issues of mutual interest. In essence, both India and the EU share common perspectives on multilateralism pivoting on multilateral diplomacy through the United Nations. Further, both India and EU share common objective on issues like U.N. Charter, U.N. peacekeeping, Millennium Development Goals and face common threats like climate change and terrorism. Both partners must endeavor to translate these into action.

Some of the more concrete recommendations in the fields of reference are as follows:

- EU and India should not lose opportunities due to their different perceptions of rules. Both actors play by the rules, and can and should work towards defining and implementing those rules through more dialogue and exchanges. The Strategic Partnership should, to the extent possible, avoid rituals, communiqués and meetings that do not produce concrete results, and should instead concentrate on substance and implementation. India and the EU should perceive each other as a genuine security partner and view their respective interests, regional commitments and universal obligations as mutually reinforcing and not mutually exclusive. More EU-India cooperation in the UN as a response to global challenges is crucial as well as a long-term commitment to multilateral solutions.

- Among the main possible areas of EU-India cooperation in the framework of the UN security system, the following where mentioned: conflict prevention – by promoting democratic processes and platforms for enlarging options and space for dispute resolution; conflict prevention interventions –by providing conciliator missions, technical and advisory services, monitoring and evaluation, linking development assistance; support of appropriate Track II processes -which can provide early diagnostics of potential conflicts and bring out possible approaches to solutions; bilateral cooperation on peacekeeping and peacebuilding –including by signing an agreement that allows for combining EU's financial and technical resources with India's human resources and experience, as well as for joint operations; and cooperation to strengthen and enhance the role of the UN in PK and PB activities, and work for stable long term financing of UN's peacekeeping and peacebuilding activities. In relation to this last point, the possibility of creation a G-20 type forum for peacebuilding / peacekeeping was mentioned –which will not replace the role of the UN nor the efforts to reform the UN but provide a forum for consultations and cooperation in this field and act as a facilitative mechanism in a system where the UN remains central.

- In the context of peacekeeping, India and the EU should enhance inter-operationability in peacekeeping, peacebuilding and statebuilding missions around the world. There are examples of some ad hoc inter-operationability in Sudan, but there is a lack institutional mechanisms for it to be realized, starting with the exchange of information in the planning phase of operations. There is scope for cooperation among their peacekeeping forces by participating in UN mandated joint peacekeeping mission in conflict areas such as, eventually, Israel – Palestine, Sudan, and other African countries.

- Cooperation between India and the EU in democracy promotion has great potential in Afghanistan. India and the EU should jointly promote political and civil society dialogues in that country, which will constitute a major contribution to peacebuilding. More broadly, EU and India could jointly cooperate in countering the threats associated to state failure in countries such as Mauritania, Somalia, or Yemen. Tackling this issue requires working with other rising powers in the framework of the UN, the type of EU-UN cooperation taking place in Lebanon being a promising example.

- India and the EU can effectively cooperate in addressing terrorism through specific mechanisms for intelligence sharing, training and capacity building as well as exchange of threat assessments. Fields of cooperation include cyber security, physical security, technology transfer relating to security, and R&D. Dialogue and cooperation should not be confined to police organizations but should also involved the judiciary –Eurojust in the case of the EU should be involved and not only Europol. Among the areas of cooperation at the multilateral level that could be explored are UNSC resolution 1267 process such as on the freezing of financial assets related to terror activities; assistance to weak states in order to prevent terrorism. Further, there is a need to establish India-EU Joint Working Group on counter terrorism to develop a common understanding of issues related to terrorism and response mechanisms.

- India and the EU should make sure that climate change is mainstreamed in G-20's activities, since the resolution following the Pittsburgh meeting made clear that the G-20 is not only about dealing with economic and financial issues. They should both work hard in the G-20 to promote effective multilateralism and sustainable development, while using their strategic partnership to identify common interests also in the G-20. The EU should solve problems related to its representation in the G-20 in order to facilitate this cooperation.

The EU and India should also have far more high-level dialogues on regional/global issues such as the rise of China, the new Obama administration, and the future security architecture of South East Asia. Thinks tanks are in this sense needed for research and well informed policies, and both ICWA and EUISS could contribute to channel initiatives in this regard and are willing to create a partnership which is open to both Indian and European think tanks. Both Institutions have agreed to hold their next interaction and the following issues could be on the agenda: (a) global governance, (b) minorities and inclusive society, (c) regionalism, (d) disarmament. Further, it was felt that West Asia, Persian Gulf and Africa are regions where India and EU have great stakes and could explore working together.
Sudhir T. Devare
Director General,
Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA)
Sapru House, New Delhi
Álvaro de Vasconcelos
Director (EIS)
European Union Institute for Security
Studies (EUISS), Paris,