Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
In everyday language, the term multilateralism is often used synonymously with international cooperation . Among diplomats, it refers to certain cooperative diplomatic practices, and, according to a common scholarly definition, multilateralism is simply international cooperation that includes three or more states. This minimalist conception is sometimes supplemented by a number of conditions, including the idea that cooperation between states should be based on generalized principles of behavior. Given this plethora of different meanings, it seems not unfair to say that the term multilateralism is a convenient yet potentially confusing shorthand “tip of the iceberg” concept, representing and connoting a multitude of phenomena. This entry reviews three major different ways of referring to multilateralism, for which reason it is introduced as an institutional system, a foreign policy strategy, and as political ideology. In a longue durée perspective—that is, a temporal perspective spanning centuries—we have seen the emergence of an increasingly increasingly ...