State and Multilateralism: Past, Present and Future

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Multilateralism has been defined by a larger and a narrower way: according to Robert O. Keohane it is an « institutionalized collective action by an inclusively determined set of independent states »; it is also defined as « persistent sets of rules that constrain activity, shape expectations and prescribe roles ». According to John G. Ruggie « multilateralism is an institutional form that coordinates relations among three or more states on the basis of generalized principles of conduct... ». The minimum requirement (the number of the club members) is very relevant when looking at multilateral arrangements from an historical point of view. Multilateral agreements regimes and organizations emerge in the 19th century and consolidate their role despite the failures and tragedies of the violent first half of the so called “short century” (20th) because several states, notably the European states, were and are interested in increasing intergovernmental cooperation.

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