Will multilateralism survive in the age of strategic competition?

Livestream · 28.02.2023 09:30 - 11:30

Ongoing transformations in the international order and intensifying global challenges are making multilateralism vulnerable to strategic competition when it comes to its conduct, fundamental norms, and in respect of its aims. While formal multilateral institutions are not forsaken in principle, alternative forums are often prioritised in practice. Different powers utilise both the UN system, as well as alternative institutions, broad and more narrow-based informal institutions such as the G Groups, and ad hoc formations. Regional multilateralism is gaining ground as an attractive alternative form of cooperation. At the same time, the global ramifications of, and reactions to, Russia’s war of aggression have served as a serious wake-up call on increased strategic competition taking place also in the Global South. 

What are the key trends in multilateral cooperation? How do key powers approach it? How can the EU and Finland strengthen multilateral cooperation?


Opening remarks:
Nina Vaskunlahti, Under Secretary of State, International Trade, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland

Susana Malcorra, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship for the Republic of Argentina

Final report presentation:
Multilateral cooperation and strategic competition

Katja Creutz, Programme Director, FIIA 
Ville Sinkkonen, Postdoctoral Fellow, FIIA 

Panel discussion:
Susana Malcorra, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship for the Republic of Argentina
Ryhor Nizhnikau, Senior Research Fellow, FIIA
Hanna Tuominen, University Lecturer, European studies, University of Helsinki
Erik Lundberg, Deputy Director General for Political Affairs, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland

Closing remarks:
Pekka Haavisto, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland

Juha Jokela, Programme Director, FIIA

This seminar marks the publication of the report “Multilateral cooperation in an era of strategic competition: Options for influence for Finland and the European Union”. The report is parts of the Finnish Government’s 2022 analysis, assessment, and research activities (VN-TEAS).


Opening remarks

Nina Vaskunlahti

Under Secretary of State, International Trade, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland

Nina Vaskunlahti has been serving as the Under-Secretary of State for International Trade since June 2019 at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. Ms Vaskunlahti joined the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in 1984, after graduating from the University of Turku in 1983 with a Master's Degree in Political Sciences. Since then, she has served in various functions at Finland’s bilateral missions to Mexico, Australia and the Russian Federation. She was also seconded to the Office of the High Representative to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Her most recent assignments prior to assuming her current post included Ambassador of Finland to India and Bangladesh (September 2016 – June 2019), and previously Ambassador to Turkey (September 2012 - August 2016) as well as Director General of the Department for Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. Ms Vaskunlahti has held various functions at the Finnish Permanent Representation to the European Union, including the position of Deputy Permanent Representative (August 2004 – August 2008).

Since 2019, she has been the Representative of the Foreign Ministry in the Team Finland Steering Group and Business Finland Board of Directors as well as a member at the National Emergency Supply Council. She is also Finland’s Alternate Governor to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

After nearly four decades spent in foreign affairs, Ms. Vaskunlahti strongly believes in the strength of international cooperation and dialogue. Irrespective of country or posting, she bases her work on the Finnish strongholds of equality, innovativeness and trustworthiness. She has always been a strong advocate for gender equality.


Susana Malcorra

former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship for the Republic of Argentina

Susana Malcorra is the President and one of the cofounders of GWL Voices for Change and Inclusion.

She was the Dean of IE School of Global & Public Affairs in Spain. Ms. Malcorra served as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship of the Argentine Republic, from December 2015 to June 2017. From April 2012 to December 2015, she was the Chef de Cabinet (Chief of Staff) of the Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon.

Previously, she led the Department of Field Support (DFS) for Peace Missions, based in New York, as Under-Secretary General of the United Nations. In 2004, she joined the World Food Programme (WFP) in Rome, as an Assistant Secretary General and Chief Operating Officer (COO).

Before starting in the United Nations, she had almost twenty-five years in the private sector. From January 1993 she worked in Telecom Argentina, retiring in 2002 as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). She started her professional development in IBM Argentina.

Final report presentation

Katja Creutz

Programme Director, FIIA

Katja Creutz is Programme Director of the Global Security and Governance research programme. She is also an Affiliated Research Fellow with the Erik Castrén Institute at the University of Helsinki. Her main field of expertise is international law and especially issues of responsibility, human rights and global governance. Dr Creutz holds a Doctor of Laws degree (2015) and a Master of Laws programme degree from the University of Helsinki (2004) and a Master of Political Science from Åbo Akademi University (2000).

Creutz has published extensively on responsibility in international law, non-state actors, human rights and Nordic issues. Her latest academic publications include: ‘The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and Rights Protection: Revisionist or Just Another Kid on the Block?’ and ‘Nordic Experiences in the UN Human Rights Council: A Tour d’Horizon of 2019 with Iceland and Denmark’. She is also the author of the monograph ”State Responsibility in the International Legal Order: A Critical Appraisal” (CUP, 2020).

Ville Sinkkonen

Postdoctoral Fellow, FIIA

Ville Sinkkonen is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, Center on US Politics and Power. His research focuses on US foreign policy, great-power politics, normative power, and the politics of trust in international relations.

Sinkkonen is the author of A Comparative Appraisal of Normative Power: The European Union, the United States and the January 25th, 2011 Revolution in Egypt (Brill, 2015), and his work has been published in the Journal of Transatlantic Studies, European Review of International Studies and European Foreign Affairs Review, among others. He holds an LL.D. (International Law) from the University of Turku, where he defended his doctoral dissertation Failing hegemony? Four essays on the global engagement of the United States of America in the 21st Century in December 2020.

Sinkkonen is the chairperson of the Finnish International Studies Association (FISA) and co-editor of the Nordic Review of International Studies (NRIS).


Ryhor Nizhnikau

Senior Research Fellow, FIIA

Ryhor Nizhnikau is a Senior Research Fellow in Russia, the EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood and Eurasia programme at Finnish Institute of International Affairs. He works on Russia’s and EU’s policies towards Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus and institutional transformations and political developments in these countries. He received his PhD in Political Science from Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies, University of Tartu.

Hanna Tuominen

University Lecturer, European studies, University of Helsinki

Hanna Tuominen is university lecturer in European studies at the University of Helsinki. Her research has focused on EU values, Finnish and EU foreign policy issues and EU-UN relations. She has published articles in various academic journals, including Journal of Common Market Studies, The Hague Journal of Diplomacy and Cooperation and Conflict.

Erik Lundberg

Deputy Director General for Political Affairs, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland

Ambassador Erik Lundberg has served as Deputy Director General for Political Affairs since July 2022. Before his present position, he served as Finland’s Ambassador to Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, Eritrea, the Seychelles as well as Permanent Representative to UNEP and UNHABITAT (2018 2021). Erik Lundberg’s prior foreign postings also include serving as Finland’s Ambassador to Norway (2014 2018), Head of the Unit for Sustainable Development and Human Rights at Finland’s Permanent Mission to the UN in New York, Deputy Permanent Representative at Finland’s Permanent Mission to The Council of Europe in Strasbourg and Deputy Head of Mission at Finland’s Embassies in Canada and the Syrian Arab Republic.

At the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Helsinki, Mr Lundberg has i.a . served as Ambassador for inclusive Peace and Security (2021 2022) and Director at the Unit for Human Rights Policy (2011 2014). Mr. Lundberg has furthermore worked with various expert tasks at the Departments for Political Affairs and International Trade as well as at the Legal Service.

Ambassador Lundberg joined the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland in 1995. He holds a MSc in Political Science from the Åbo Akademi University in Finland.

Closing remarks

Pekka Haavisto

Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland

Pekka Haavisto has served as the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland since June 2019. Prior to his position as the Minister for Foreign Affairs, he has acquired vast and diverse experience in various tasks and responsibilities related to foreign policy. Haavisto was a Member of Parliament in 1983–1995 and was returned to Parliament in 2007. In 1995–1999, he served as Minister of Development and the Environment and in 2013–2014 as Minister for International Development. In 1993–1995 and in 2018–2019, he was Party Leader of the Greens in Finland. Haavisto has stood as a candidate in the presidential election in Finland in 2012 and in 2018.


Juha Jokela

Programme Director, FIIA

Juha Jokela is the Programme Director of the European Union research programme at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs. Dr Jokela’s previous academic and policy studies projects and publications include the EU’s sanctions policy, political implications of Brexit for the EU, political and security developments in the Arctic, Europeanisation of foreign policy, EU’s Asia relations, and Finland’s EU policy. His current research interests include differentiated integration in EU’s foreign policy, and the role of G7 and G20 in multilateral cooperation.

Dr Jokela has previously worked at the EU Institute for Security Studies as a Senior Associated Analyst and Senior Visiting Research Fellow, as an Advisor at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, and as a Research Fellow and the Director of the Network for European Studies at the University of Helsinki. Jokela is a member of the board of Trans European Policy Studies Association (TEPSA), member of the Steering Committee of EuroMesCo, the main network of research centres and think-tanks in the Euro-Mediterranean area, and member of the Academic Advisory Board of the Institut für Europäische Politik (IEP).

Jokela holds a PhD from the University of Bristol (UK), which focused on Europeanisation and foreign policy in Finland and the UK, and a Bachelor of Social Sciences from the University of Birmingham (UK).