August 5, 2020
Prepared by the Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy
- Rising populist sentiment and bilateral tensions between states have challenged trust and integrity in various multilateral institutions, including the United Nations and the World Health Organization.
- Domestic pandemic responses are having global impacts, e.g. travel and visa restrictions, rising tensions between states.
- With cooperation and mutual respect between established and developing powers, there are opportunities for countries to emerge from the pandemic stronger and more resilient.
As governments around the world explore the trade-off between the health of their citizens and the prosperity of their economy, the geopolitical climate has suffered. The rising populist sentiment and lack of trust in domestic governments are challenging global cooperation and exacerbating issues between countries across the world. Anti-globalist paranoia has exposed weaknesses in international organizations like the UN, WTO and WHO. The exclusion of emerging powers in the decision-making process by such bodies may cause resentment from those not afforded a voice. A prime example is the UN Security Council, which is frequently criticized for lacking representation.
Historically, disease and violence between states are phenomena that feed off each other. While health systems and responses have improved, tensions between states remain, with domestic decisions impacting global relations. Consider for instance, the recent indifference displayed by the United States towards international participation under the current administration and the rivalry between the United States and China, despite being deeply affected by the pandemic. Most recently, on June 22nd, 2020, President Trump signed an executive order temporarily suspending H-1B visas for hundreds of thousands of high-skilled workers until at least the end of this year, citing the pandemic.
These realities and the continued struggle of the EU to cooperate internally has caused many countries to search for leadership in countries other than the United States which has traditionally been the leader of the free world. As the world rebuilds, world order and human development may become the duty of the international collective rather than the responsibility of a select few.