Sam Eccles discusses how Covid-19 has highlighted the case for globalism and a multilateral approach moving forward.
Before the outbreak of the coronavirus, the world was an incredibly divided place – perhaps at a level we have not seen since the Cold War.
Whether it be Russia’s sustained vetoing of UN Security Council resolutions for peace in Syria, the UK’s exit from the European Union or the President of the United States threatening to withdraw from NATO and cancelling its funding for the WHO, the global rise in isolationism and separatism has been deeply damaging for citizens across the globe.
However, COVID-19 has not only shown that the world’s nations can co-operate with each other in times of need, but that they must collaborate if they are all to effectively tackle their shared challenges. History has shown us that in times of global crisis, like the formation of the UN post-WW2, global politics can rise to the challenge in humanity’s time of need. It is now the turn of our current world leaders to meet such a challenge and rediscover this understanding of our globalised and interconnected world.
There have been examples of global co-operation since the spread of the virus, from data-sharing, PPE donations and medical equipment loans. However, in the same way these examples have shown the benefits of international co-operation, the silence from world leaders to implement it has been deafening. As Gordon Brown wrote last month, the internal retreat by countries in our “leaderless world” to tackle this virus on their own was a grave mistake. The vacuum left by the lack of a globally-co-ordinated effort to deal with the virus has sadly led to a death rate that could have been avoided, had action been taken earlier.
One leader who has been vocal on this issue however is Emmanuel Macron. In a recent interview, the French President highlighted that issues that can only be solved unilaterally by governments are becoming much rarer, whilst issues that can only be solved multilaterally are becoming more common and more damaging. He also warned, that if the world does not ‘wake up to our interdependence’, populism and nationalism will win. He’s not wrong.
Keir Starmer and his team must recognise this and that if we are to tackle both COVID-19 and the key issues of this new decade post-Brexit: climate change, cyber-security and widening global inequality, then a renewed understanding of the importance of global co-operation must be at the heart of their policy platform. We cannot do it alone. Whether the channels used are the UN, G8, G20 or international treaties such as the Paris Climate Accord of 2015.
If COVID-19 has taught our us anything, it is that the damaging isolationist and separatist trends we have seen in the previous decade cannot continue into this one.