Shaping the Emerging World: India and the Multilateral Order

Multilateral regimes are increasingly important in regulating how states relate to one another, but India’s engagement has been hampered by its focus on its immediate regional security problems, its continuing commitment to “strategic autonomy,” its complex and inward-looking domestic politics, and even a shortage of diplomatic personnel. India has lobbied for permanent membership in the UN Security Council but has kept the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund at arm’s length, has placed obstacles in the way of trade agreements and climate negotiations, and has avoided international arms control commitments. The contributors to this volume explore India’s positions on those issues and others, including UN peacekeeping, the law of the sea, cybersecurity, financial accounting, and human rights. They reveal a pattern of ambivalence, shaped by a desire, on the one hand, for major-power status and a fear, on the other, of seeing international norms turned against India’s interests. New Delhi tends to favor multilateral institutions that can be used to constrain the actions of other major powers but not those that might be employed to influence India itself.

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