Pandemic: jointly or separately

Alexey V. Koleznev
School of Governance and Politics, MGIMO University
Polina G. Kochetova
School of Governance and Politics, MGIMO University

Abstract. The World’s modern developments reflect the changeable essence of international relations and world politics in general. We became the witnesses of the impact caused by the COVID-19’s outbreak in many fields such as intergovernmental cooperation, economy, legal sphere. In this paper, authors seek to answer the question of how the XXI century’s most unpredicted challenge will affect international cooperation. Would it become a new era’s landmark? In this regard what sphere would be affected the most? As far as we can see now, the international level cooperation demonstrates that in particular some nations while failed to receive urgently needed help from allies, have nothing left but to get it from other actors like Russia and China. The USA and UK keep growing nationalistic looking forward to deal with an outbreak on their own and. Although possessing a developed health care system, the US leading in «positive» testing. The main plot of the article is to analyze the current level of interstate cooperation and find out the solution. Where is the optimum to face the pandemic outbreak? On the one hand unilateral actions, on the other cooperation, based on multilateral consensus, the best is yet to be found.

Keywords: pandemic, cooperation, pandemic outbreak, nation, economy, cybersecurity, ecology


Main Body

Megatrends and anti-trends. Nowadays we see a rise of anti-trends like isolationism, de-democratization, and disintegration. Expressed in terms of S. Huntington, the world is in a revolutionary stage of development, which is characterized by the chaotization of political organization in the world.

Deglobalization involves closing borders, which affects almost all areas of human activity. The transparency of borders decreases, which leads to a reverse trend of transnationalization. While globalization is accompanied by a hybridization of system actors and phenomena, which is caused by the transformation of the Westphalian political system, isolationism results in the strengthening role of states [1]. The coronavirus crisis has highlighted the downsides of extensive international integration while fanning fears of foreigners and providing legitimacy for national restrictions on global trade and flows of people.

Democratization is characterized by an increase in the number of democracies, the involvement of new actors in global governance, and an increase in the number of international venues in the world. In a pandemic, de-democratization prevails.

We consider it appropriate to say a few words about approaches to solving the current problems of the pandemic by various states. The US has traditionally tried to solve the problem with a lot of money. The experience and practice of 2008 is already available. The Federal Reserve simply turns on the machine and prints several trillion dollars, which will then be generously distributed among large banks and financial companies.

The essence of the approach in Europe is not very different from the American one. The European Bank also focuses on a massive distribution of money in the name of salvation.

At the same time, neither in America nor in Europe they think that COVID-19 only exposed a number of deep-seated problems within the existing systems of healthcare, economics, and production. The processes of isolationism, disintegration and de-deglobalization have exposed the stale problems of the political system. Thus, world society faces the main choice - to resolve problems within the framework of the old world order or to create a new system, leaving the old problems on the threshold of a new era.

There is no way to inflate infinitely a financial bubble. Everywhere, a liquidity crisis manifests itself, distrust arises, the bankruptcy chain starts. Most of the profits from globalization went to a narrow group involved in new sectors of the economy, finance and trade in developed countries. This fact provoked the crisis. This caused a powerful political protest and right-wing populists came to power in many Western countries. These politicians began the process of deglobalization. The most striking example is Donald Trump, who declared trade wars to the largest partners of the United States.

A wave of protectionism has swept across the states of the South, which are now shutting off migrants from the North. So, Uganda, Turkey, and Jordan do not let EU citizens pass and send them back if such passengers refuse to be quarantined for two weeks [2]. Movements restriction is legitimized by the imperative of the physical survival of people; their safety is tied to a severe restriction on mobility.

And although calls for collective approaches in the context of the coronavirus sound, it is hardly possible to realize it.

Activity within the scale of international bodies. It has become fashionable to speak and write that in the context of the global crisis and pandemic, international organizations can not cope with their responsibilities. However, the UN or WHO are nothing more than tools in the hands of national governments, and reproaches addressed to them look incorrect. The most important function of international organizations is to maintain peace and increase the predictability of states' intentions through their socialization. They successfully cope with this task.

And the long silence of the UN Security Council can be explained quite simply: any kind of significant international cooperation in countering coronavirus would require maximum transparency and completeness of information on the state of affairs in all countries of the world, which many of these countries are hardly ready for. And it comes to the creation of supranational institutions, competent not only to adopt a resolution with a set of the most general wishes, which does not oblige any of the great powers to anything substantial.

Either humanity will find the strength and determination in itself to reach a new level of manageability, having paid for it with part of the sovereignty of national states, or new pandemics (climate change, international terrorism, uncontrolled migration, enraged artificial intelligence - it should be emphasized necessary) will tax archaic fashion on the priority of national sovereignty and fidelity to political particularism [3].

Changing nature of national sovereignty. More and more researchers are wondering which regime is better at dealing with pandemic - authoritarian or democratic. The pandemic gives authoritarian leaders the opportunity to take control of the country's governance in their hands, taking advantage of the unconditional support of the population. However, the question about the mode is not entirely correct. Firstly, the issue is the legitimization of the political system by the population. The success of state public control depends more on voluntary compliance than on state control. High-confidence governments can effectively support the onerous restrictions that China, South Korea, and Singapore are proving [4].

A government’s capacity—its ability to intervene competently in arenas from communication and health provision to quarantine maintenance and equipment manufacturing.

Science requires responses, not ideologies. While it is relatively easy to determine what characteristics make for an effective pandemic response, it’s difficult to determine whether any given strategy is more authoritarian or democratic. On the other end of this crisis, the result could be a decisive global shift toward its authoritarian model.

And speaking about the effectiveness of the reaction, it is worth noting the effectiveness of the actions taken at the regional level. Temporary decentralization is a forced decision when the federal centre cannot establish the same restrictive measures on all peoples living on its territory. This means that after normalizing the epidemiological situation in the country, the regional authorities get legal opportunities to implement their own economic initiatives without additional coordination with the centre. Expansion of rights to attract investment provides opportunities to build decentralized economic ties.

The economy of global cities and regions, the implementation of which the Russian authorities have long been thinking about, is an opportunity to more effectively exercise their rights without collateral political restrictions. Perhaps the coronavirus pandemic will fulfil an equally historically important function as the plague epidemic in the Middle Ages, which led to the urbanization of the population, the spread of cities, and trade between them.

The economic consequences. The economy seems to face the greatest impact.  The COVID-19 pandemic not only claimed many human lives, but also caused enormous damage to the world economy. The recession that caused it is widely described as comparable to the Great Depression in the United States. The infographic records forecasts for GDP growth and unemployment in the G20 countries in 2019-2021, as well as lists the main devastating consequences of the epidemic [6].

To predict, analysts often turn to the 1918-1919 flu epidemic known as Spanish. It claimed, according to various estimates, 40-50 million lives. That pandemic is considered the worst in world history in terms of both the number of people infected and the number of deaths. However, although its economic consequences were dramatic, they were quickly overcome. The International Monetary Fund wrote in 2006 that the Spanish led to a sharp fall in economic activity, which quickly recovered [7]. Roughly the same has happened now: economic chains have been torn apart by physical obstacles to the economy, such as quarantine, consumer demand has fallen sharply and investment has been frozen. However, once the epidemic ended, the economy recovered very quickly, and consumption and business activity exceeded the level before the epidemic. The cause of the economic crisis during the pandemic is physical barriers - people are quarantined, unable to work, to run business, to consume goods. However, in the case of influenza, rapid economic growth was due, among other things, to active economic development at the end of the First World War. It is highly likely that the post-pandemic period will not be characterized by equally strong economic growth. Considering the further development of the economy on a global scale, it is important to study the impact of the virus on the economies of countries such as China and the United States. Given the impact on the Chinese economy of such factors as investment, consumption and net exports, as well as the experience of economic development before and after the SARS epidemic in 2003, it can be assumed that the economic growth of the PRC in the first half of the year will be lower than expected. By the second half of 2020, the manufacturing industry will begin to recover rapidly, after which the tertiary sector will also enter the phase of rapid recovery, the economic growth of the PRC will return to normal values, and then demonstrate growth.

Speaking of the US, it is not yet possible to say exactly when the economy of the country will return to the pre-crisis state, because at the moment the number of confirmed cases of infection is leading in the world. So far, President Donald Trump's administration is taking unprecedented measures to address the difficult situation, in particular by preparing a bill on the federal economic stimulus package (The CARES Act), passed by the Senate and Congress and signed by Trump on March 27 [8]. The economic aid package of $2 trillion or 10% of the country's GDP can already be called the largest in U.S. history. For example, 831 billion was allocated in 2009 to save the country's finances and economy. The US administration widely believes that federal aid should address the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic through direct financial payments to Americans, as well as loans to large and small industries.

Information and Cyber Security. Ecological agenda.

In modern circumstances, the State exercises control over the movement of its own citizens in order to take measures as quickly as possible. Undoubtedly, by controlling and monitoring the movements of citizens, it is highly likely that possible contacts with infected people, or with those who violate the quarantine, can be determined. But at the same time, there is a question about how people's personal data will be used, whether it will be deleted. Will the information obtained during the pandemic not be used against the people themselves in the future?

Now, the subject of a pandemic is extremely lit in mass media that found the corresponding echo in cyberspace ‒ both at the level of the personality, and at the international level. With economies shrinking production and more active development of services, work is carried out remotely, resulting in increased vulnerability of cyberspace users. Thus, the importance of State control is increasing, given that the topic of the outbreak of the virus is leading and it is necessary to avoid cases of disinformation. Especially when the frequency of mention of the virus in the media is higher than in official sources [9]. During the pandemic, the activity of network users increased significantly, and at the same time, the flow of data increased, which now increasingly becomes the target of cyber-attacks and phishing manipulation [10]. At this conjecture, the international community needs to develop effective mechanisms to ensure stable cooperation and collaboration on information security and cybersecurity. Otherwise, countries will have to deal with cyber threats alone - whose specificity, often, is remote control and difficult determination of the address of an attack.

It is also important to mention that the outbreak of the virus has significantly affected the environmental situation in many regions of the world [11]. As the economy is being restructured, it has become clear that man-made factors in climate are important. Emissions are decreasing in a number of countries [12]. This gives some hope that countries will take into account experience and make economies more «Green».

Scenarios & Conclusion

COVID-19 has become a serious challenge for all countries - rich and poor - without exception. In today's globalized world, the interconnected and interdependent, transparent and open, have been some of the reasons for the rapid spread of infection. The main question is the interaction of the countries in the fight against a pandemic and in what way it will be most effective ‒ together or separately. To conclude there are several scenarios might take place: 1) The first option is wide international cooperation in the field of combating infection with the involvement of a wide range of international organizations; 2) The second way is bilateral support, as is already the case in some countries in the humanitarian aid format; 3) Countries will cope independently with the pandemic and humanitarian assistance is insufficient.


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