Mr. Obama Goes to New York: The President and the Restoration of Multilateral Diplomacy


As President Obama travels to the UN and G-20 summits, the authors review his efforts to restore U.S. leadership in multilateral forums to date. They conclude that:

  • The President has been a successful “quiet international reformer”, managing the process of bringing the emerging powers into global negotiating fora.
  • Mr. Obama and his aides also articulated an internationalist philosophy that does not shy away from difficult but necessary “painstaking, principled diplomacy”.
  • The administration has taken major steps to restore America’s stature at the UN, especially among developing countries, and launched new initiatives on human rights and peacekeeping.
  • Nonetheless, the president has also been rebuffed by China and India over climate change at the G8; and by Russia on Georgia and Iran in the UN Security Council.
  • The President’s desire for a stronger role at the UN will inevitably lead to calls for him to state America’s position on Security Council reform.