Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Stewart Patrick discusses the concept of multilateralism for “Global Climate Change Policy” and other CFR Model Diplomacy case studies. Model Diplomacy ( is a free multimedia simulation program that engages students through role-play to understand the challenges of shaping U.S. foreign policy in an interconnected world.

Defined as “cooperation between three or more countries,” Patrick says that multilateralism occurs when countries come together to solve common problems. There are a growing number of problems that require multilateralism, including climate change, epidemics, and cyber insecurity. In addition to universal membership in widely known organizations like the UN, Patrick says that the United States and other countries turn increasingly to a broader set of arrangements, such as the G20, to address multilateral issues. Patrick says that a pressing challenge for multilateralism today is how to effectively include new actors at the table on global stage. This is particularly true, given that emerging and established nations often do not share the same priorities or values as more established countries. This can make multilateral cooperation difficult, since such cooperation inherently requires nations to compromise.

Instructors interested in exploring “Global Climate Change Policy” and other cases for their classrooms can visit the Model Diplomacy case library.

For more educational resources from the Council on Foreign Relations, visit CFR Campus at


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