Remarks by Amb Amit Narang at Panch-tattvas of Multilateral Work - Inter-School Model UN Wadi Kabir - 25 October 2023

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Inter-School Model UN Assembly 2023

Indian School Al Wadi Al Kabir


October 25, 2023

‘Panch-tattvas of Multilateral Cooperation’

Remarks by Ambassador Amit Narang

Principal, Indian School Al Wadi Al Kabir,

President and Members of the School Management Committee,

Delegates to the Model UN Assembly,

Dear Students,


It is a privilege to be once again present for the inauguration ceremony of the 9th edition of the Inter-School Model UN Assembly hosted by Indian School Wadi Kabir today.

I had the pleasure of attending the opening of the 8th edition of the Model UN Assembly last year as well.

I am happy to see young talents from the Indian schools simulating debates and discussions along the lines of United Nations and in the process honing their own debating and diplomatic skills.

As I had noted last year, simulation of a UN Assembly is important for the students to learn and imbibe the essential skills of multilateral diplomacy. Regardless of what career they eventually end up pursuing, the skill sets necessary to excel in multilateral negotiations will stand the students in good stead in any and every career they end up choosing.

Dear Children,

The major issues we confront today do not recognize national boundaries, and even if a limited national solution if implemented, it becomes meaningless in the free flow of information, goods and people that defines our globalized world. 

While we are aware of global challenges such as climate change that are being tackled through multilateral negotiations and international cooperation, a more recent example desperately requiring a commonly agreed international template and regulatory regime is Artificial Intelligence. 

Its ramifications are such that many leading practitioners and intellectuals have called for a set of internationally accepted guidelines and parameters to be negotiated and agreed.

But does multilateral discussion work?

No matter if you are an idealist like Thomas Paine who said that “My country is the world, and my religion is to do good” or a pessimist who thinks the United Nations is little more than “a well meaning but never ending talk-show”, you will agree that as citizens of a global village, multilateralism - to the extent that it means a collective effort to find solutions to common problems – is not an option, it is indispensable. 

If this is so, then what are the key ingredients of multilateral work? 

Let us look at five essential attributes that signify multilateral diplomacy and are key to its success.


At the heart of multilateral diplomacy is the acceptance of peaceful dialogue as the only way to find solutions. When we commit to dialogue, we automatically abjure war and violence. When we commit to dialogue, we naturally incline towards listening to diverse perspectives and seek to align them with each other. When we commit to dialogue, we assert the importance of differing viewpoints and from this acceptance sprouts forth the hope of cooperation.


Working together to find solutions to common problems is at the heart of international cooperation. It also ensures that the weak are not subject to the whims of the strong, but are equal partners in implementing action on the ground. Peace, the holy grail of international politics is not merely the absence of war. It has to be nurtured through dialogue and cooperation.


For multilateral diplomacy to succeed, the essential kernel is that all actors, all nations are equal. This is indeed the founding creed of United Nations – one nation, one vote. Equity among dialogue partners is also essential to create the buy-in for dialogue and basis for cooperation.


It is not enough for international cooperation to succeed in finding solutions for today. While cessation of violence and ensuring peace is an immediate objective, the fruits of multilateral cooperation must be sustainable in the long run. At the same time, such action should not produce trade-offs between peace, security, economy, social harmony or the environment.

Last but not the least, Common Good.

The ultimate objective of countries working together to reach the goal of finding solutions that work for everyone. This is also called middle ground.

The paradox here is that individual actions taken by countries taken in self-interest are often very effective, but in an interconnected world if others start doing so too, then everyone is worse off. 

Therefore, parameters have to be set and frameworks put in place such that the overall global action is in harmony with each other and the overall common good is achieved. 

This is easier said than done though. Common good could be and often is the lowest common denominator, the bare minimum that all countries would put their signatures on. 

And herein lies the challenge for the multilateral negotiator, to simultaneously pursue the highest global ambition while making sure the solution works for everyone – large or small, rich or poor – equally.

Taken together, these are the Panch-tattvas of multilateral cooperation.

Dear students, 

Your generation must be conversant with the skills to pursue these panch-tattvas. 

To convert dialogue into actionable change. 

To convert ‘Arguments to consensus’.

When speaking to the delegates of the 8th Model UN Assembly last year, I had proposed 5 key attributes of a successful multilateral diplomat.

I see no harm in revisiting them for this year’s assembly as well.

First, is the ability to listen.

Most model assemblies emphasize the skills of speaking or oration - to be able to convey your point clearly, succinctly and convincingly. 

While this is no doubt crucial, even more important and often less emphasized is the ability to listen to those who hold an opposing viewpoint. Effective listening enables you to sharpen your own argument, and also lends you the ability to listen and thus be more empathetic to differing viewpoints.

Each delegate brings to the table his or her own national positions, and there is no absolute right or absolute wrong. An ability to listen also allows you to bridge the divide and make the debate less contentious and more constructive.

Second, you need to sharpen your own intellectual credibility. 

Diplomacy is as much about speaking well as it is about in-depth domain knowledge. This is especially true today as you discuss issues such as climate change, data privacy, space, oceans, nuclear disarmament etc. that require deep technical know-how. 

Spend time doing your homework before you take the floor.

Third, human connect and courtesy is critical. 

Even though each delegate represents a different country or you are still surrounded by fellow human beings. 

Being a good human being is as important on the floor of the multilateral debate as it is outside. It also helps making the discussions more constructive and productive. 

Fourth, seek common ground not victory for your point of view.

Negotiation is not about trying to get the other side to agree to your viewpoint, as much as it is about finding a middle path, which both sides can live with. What you are looking for in a negotiation is not success in getting your point validated – good of you if you can do so – but achieving a compromise that you and the others can both live with.

Fifth, multilateral diplomacy is a long and difficult road. Patience is key. 

From sitting hours at end in windowless rooms to sustaining processes that can last years, it tests your patience, your resilience and your intellectual stamina. Learn to be patient. Train to concentrate. Practice to sustain.

Dear Children,

I have shared with you what I feel are the Panch-tattvas of multilateral work and the five essential skillsets to ensure you succeed in multilateral diplomacy. I hope you will find these useful.

I have no doubt that participation today and tomorrow in this model UN Assembly will give you a first-hand experience of multilateral diplomacy and make you familiar with the do’s and don’ts of collective discussion.

I hope you will embrace the essential skills of multilateral diplomacy for the Pancha-tattvas of multilateral cooperation and seek to make a difference to a world that is in desperate search for peace, progress and sustainability.

I wish you all the best.

Jai Hind!