Another club emerges

The US unveiled the ‘Partnership for Atlantic Cooperation’ (PAC) on the side-lines of the UN General Assembly on Monday, bringing together 32 Atlantic countries from across Africa, Europe, and the Americas.

It’s basically a forum for cooperation across three fronts:

  1. 🚢 Economic – The 32 countries all share the world’s most heavily travelled ocean that’s home not only to major shipping routes, but also cross-border challenges like trafficking and illegal fishing.
  2. 🐠 Environmental – The Atlantic now has a “plastic smog” comprising trillions of particles, plus there’s evidence the ocean’s currents are changing, with implications for sea life and weather.
  3. 🔬 Science and Tech – The initiative pledges to bridge the tech gap among its members, by sharing more research and establishing a scholarships and exchange program for young Atlantic scientists.

The PAC also includes a commitment to uphold international law and keep the Atlantic free from aggressive action, though it’s not a security forum.

Intrigue’s take: As always, there’s signalling at play here:

  1. The US is saying that its focus on rivals like Russia and China doesn’t mean it’s neglecting everyone and everywhere else
  2. Building on #1, the PAC’s geographic branding signals a focus on practical shared interests rather than broader ideological divides, and
  3. By launching at the UN, it’s signalling that the PAC is designed to support (rather than undermine) the multilateral system.

But signalling aside, the very existence of these kinds of ‘plurilateral’ initiatives is probably another sign that countries are losing faith in the ability of broader forums (like the UN) to get stuff done.

Also worth noting:

  • The 32 PAC members include countries as varied as Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Gabon, Morocco, Norway, and Senegal.
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