Global Governance
A Look at Post-Pandemic Global Governance

The disintegration of multilateralism and further fragmentation and anarchy of global governance is a harbinger of a more anarchic world where the rules of the jungle will once again prevail, writes He Yafei, Distinguished Professor and Former Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs of China (2008 – 2009).

The year 2020 has suffered a continuing shock unprecedented in history, wreaking havoc with global governance and globalisation, making the world topsy-turvy and setting it adrift in a sea of changes. Thomas Friedman commented, as always, wisely, that there are two worlds: one before the pandemic and one after, with Covid-19 as the dividing line.

We are witnessing the emergence of a new world, where global governance, specifically public health governance, including crisis management, is in disarray. The cooperation between the major powers in providing global commons has been weakening for some time and the pandemic has served as a catalyst that has escalated the fragmentation and anarchy of global governance. 

Globalisation seems to have been pushed back to the years prior to the 1980s, as countries have locked down and sealed their borders, with the pandemic spreading globally for months now. That was the first shock of 2020.
Global Corporations and Politics
The COVID-19 Epidemic: Consequences and Lessons
Jacques Sapir
The Coronavirus epidemic comes at a particular time for the global economy. The forecasts made in December 2019, that is to say, before this epidemic, were not stellar. Already in 2019, growth had been only 2.9%, among the lowest figures seen since 2008, when markets were hit by the financial crisis.
Expert Opinions


Globalisation fragmented before Covid-19, with the system of trade ravaged by trade wars, especially between the two biggest economies, and the WTO collapsing as its Appellate Court lost the required judges.

Covid-19 has disrupted commerce, trade and the free flow of people, broke global supply chains and subjected the world economy to negative growth, with the IMF estimating 2020 global GDP growth to be minus 3% or worse. 

It is wishful thinking that the end of the pandemic will automatically restore the global supply that existed chain prior to Covid-19. Chatham House CEO Robin Niblett has opined that globalisation as we know it is coming to an end.

The pandemic has further exacerbated global geopolitics, in particular the deteriorating economic and political relations between the US and China. The interactions between and among major powers have become more complicated and precarious. That is the second shock. 

Since the 1990s, China has grown to be a global economic powerhouse, earning it the nickname “The World’s Factory”. The decoupling of the US from China, especially in the high-tech and scientific fields, has arrived like a bolt out of the blue, and gives cause for worry that global governance could be further be undermined. A survey conducted in April by American Chamber of Commerce in China for American big business revealed that 44% believe that the two countries will not decouple their economies, a drop from 66% in a survey conducted last October. The Trump Administration announced recently that further tough measures would be launched against China, after the US Department of Commerce put an additional 30 or more Chinese firms on the Entity List.

Covid-19 could have been a good opportunity from the very beginning for the US and China to engage in much-needed cooperation in fighting the virus, including strengthening scientific research on vaccines and anti-viral medication.

Unfortunately, the US seems bent on pulling China into a destructive geopolitical rivalry that no one can win. Election year in the US has huge implications for both its domestic politics and foreign policies. Its relationship with Russia is certainly no better.

The global economy suffered unprecedented blows due to the onset of the pandemic. Global demand has plummeted as many medium-and-small businesses went bankrupt and both blue- and white-collar labour incomes shrank, particularly in branches of the service sector like tourism. That is the third shock.

As Secretary-General of the International Mountain Tourism Alliance, I am fully aware of the damages done by Covid-19 to tourism, both internationally and domestically. A WTTC forecast shows that 50 million tourism employees lost their jobs because of the response to Covid-19, constituting 12-14% of total global tourism employment. 

The economic slowdown and world-wide recession have exposed more glaringly the widening gap between rich and poor, and the anger that the average man-on-the-street feels towards the elites who run their countries. Amid the latest American riots 
the European Union has called for “strategic autonomy”. Meanwhile, the Trump Administration coerces or entices American businesses to move back to the States, particularly China. White House Economic Adviser Kudlow has promised that the US Government would cover all expenses related to such relocations. 

The global governance system, particularly the global public health system and its system for crisis management, were hit really hard by Covid-19. Fragmentation and anarchy have become the “new normal” in global governance. That is the fourth shock.

President Trump announced that the US will terminate its relations with the World Health Organisation (WHO), plunging the international organisation into further dysfunction. Governments had no choice but to institute drastic measures against Covid-19 to prevent its quick spread, including lockdowns and sealed borders. Yet there wasn’t much, not even consultation and coordination globally on the timing, duration and scale of the drastic measures being taken. These unilateral actions or inaction were a natural response to Covid-19, which need to be understood contextually. Multilateralism as the principle of global governance was much weakened by Covid-19, which changed the way of life and way of production worldwide. 
Russia and Global Security Risks
Trump and the WHO: It Is Worse Than a Crime, It Is a Mistake
Ivan Timofeev
The news about the suspension of funding for the World Health Organization (WHO) by the United States has sent shockwaves, both in America and abroad. Accusations targeting the organisation were voiced personally by US President Donald Trump. In his view, the WHO is responsible for the high prevalence of COVID-19. He insists that the organisation had failed to provide adequate information on time, and that when it finally arrived, it was based on official data from China, which, according to the US leader, did not reflect the real situation. The WHO has focused on China, while the United States is its principal benefactor. Judging by Trump’s statements, the White House is waiting for a “reform” of the WHO. The parameters of such reforms were not specified. But apparently, the organisation should pay more attention to the situation in the United States.
Expert Opinions


Covid-19 drew global attention to the WHO as the UN-led focal point for the mobilisation of resources to fight the pandemic as well as a professional centre for the research of vaccines and medicines targeting Covid-19.

Unfortunately, the WHO found itself stuck in a whirlwind of blame games and geopolitical rivalry, undermining concerted efforts to combat the virus. When such a technical and professional global health governance body becomes totally dysfunctional, it bodes poorly for the prospect of global governance in general. The disintegration of multilateralism and further fragmentation and anarchy of global governance is a harbinger of a more anarchic world where the rules of the jungle will once again prevail. 

In sum, the pandemic gave countries a shocking wake-up call to the prevalence of non-traditional security threats such as global public health crises, as well as the energy security crisis precipitated by the sudden steep drop of oil prices in the last few months. Non-traditional security threats now top the list of challenges facing the world, and are at least on a par with military conflicts and other traditional threats. The Covid-19 outbreak and its spread to all corners of the world illustrate this point more clearly than ever before. The strategic thinking of countries, particularly that of the major powers, has yet to shift accordingly.

The global governance deficit is worrying, with the US retreating from the provision of global public goods. It is sad to see that the rule-based global governance system with the UN at its centre is crumbling. 

The 2008 global financial crisis gave the world a sobering lesson that no country is an island that can respond, single-handedly, to any global challenge or crisis. The Covid-19 outbreak jolted that memory alive. 

Some suggestions for the possible reversal of the aforementioned governance crisis:

1. Reshaping the global governance system to adapt to the new phase of globalisation. The international community needs to carefully review the changes brought about by Covid-19 and other global challenges and on that basis, call on all counties to reaffirm and adhere to the rules-based global governance system with the United Nations at its centre. In the immediate future, the WHO and WTO should take priority over others.

2. Efforts must be made to balance major power competition and cooperation to avoid full confrontation. Geopolitical entanglements and difficulties should not be allowed to highjack major power relations and push competition into a vicious cycle that is detrimental to all countries. Competition is normal only when it is based on agreed-upon, acceptable rules.mal only when it is based on agreed-upon, acceptable rules. 
Morality and Law
Values ​​of the Coronavirus Era
Oleg Barabanov
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic is spreading to new cities and countries. An increasing number of people are forced to switch to quarantine and self-isolation. Many lose their jobs and businesses are due to the suspension of economic activity.
Expert Opinions
Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.