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  • Author: Rachel Kleinfeld, Thomas Carothers, Steven Feldstein, Richard Youngs
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Middle-power democracies—countries which regardless of their geopolitical weight have made democracy support a sustained component of their foreign policy—will be crucial to reimagining democracy support strategies and policies to better meet the moment. Some of these states have crafted new initiatives and wielded diplomatic tools to deepen their impact in recent years. However, these states have on the whole punched below their collective weight. This paper suggests that middle-power democracies can maximize their impact on global democracy in the following ways: Enhancing solidarity: when a country acts courageously in defense of democracy, it needs to know that others will stand alongside it. Sharpening their focus: middle-power democracies should target policy areas aligned with democratic values on issues both at the top of the geopolitical agenda and at the top-of-mind for citizens around the world—for example, economic recovery, injustice and discrimination, corruption, digital repression, and climate change. Improving diplomatic cooperation: pursuing flexible and focused multilateral partnerships allows for collaboration on key policy interests and amplifies middle-power actions.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Democracy, Solidarity, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Valeria Branca
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The second Infrastructure Working Group workshop under the Italian G20 PPresidency, titled “Financing infrastructure investments for local communities”, was hosted on 4 February 2021 by the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI). As the world gradually recovers from the pandemic crisis, most governments are designing strategies to revive long-term growth. A key factor in their success will be the capacity to restart and reorient infrastructure investments. In this context, investments in local infrastructures are particularly important because social needs, work habits and production patterns have been greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, whose impact has been most severe on urban areas, the informal sector and marginalised groups – especially in developing countries. Investments in local infrastructures will therefore be crucial in addressing the need to sustain recovery while tackling long-standing problems posed by climate change and social exclusion.
  • Topic: Infrastructure, Sustainable Development Goals, Investment, Coronavirus, Sustainability, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Jimena Leiva Roesch
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: As the COVID-19 pandemic has increased reliance on digital technologies, it has highlighted the growing digital divide between and within societies. Universal access to the digital world has become more urgent than ever, and failure to achieve it could undermine progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals. While closing the digital divide and increasing connectivity are among the UN secretary-general’s priorities for 2021, this goal remains elusive and faces many obstacles. One challenge is the lack of a shared understanding of what universal connectivity means. It is not just a technical challenge; it also requires addressing questions related to adoption, usage, accessibility, and the relevance and veracity of content. Another challenge is that funding for digital connectivity is uncoordinated and not easily accessible by those who need it most. There is also a lack of concerted leadership and coherent governance structures at all levels. Moreover, getting the framing right is key. National, global, and local leaders need to establish clear and compelling links between universal connectivity and the 2030 Agenda with its message to “leave no one behind.” Addressing these challenges requires a human-centered, human rights–based approach. Connectivity comes with risks, including privacy issues, misinformation and hate speech, and online violence and sexual harassment. While discussions on universal connectivity have gained momentum, these human rights considerations often remain an afterthought. Governments, businesses, and civil society need to understand connectivity as a right whose protection is their shared responsibility. Ultimately, bridging the digital divide requires a stronger and more inclusive multilateral system. Geopolitics, a lack of shared understanding, knowledge gaps, and suspicion between actors continue to hold back digital cooperation at the UN. Governments need to meaningfully include private sector and civil society actors in formal decision-making processes. In parallel, the UN should create informal platforms to build trust among stakeholders. To achieve meaningful and sustainable progress toward digital inclusion, all actors need to commit to working through a multi-stakeholder platform.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Science and Technology, Sustainable Development Goals, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Martin Hellwig, Viola Priesemann, Guntram Wolff
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: Escape variants can cause new waves of COVID-19 and put vaccination strategies at risk. To prevent or delay the global spread of these waves, virus mobility needs to be minimised through screening and testing strategies, which should also cover vaccinated people. The costs of these strategies are minimal compared to the costs to health, society and economy from another wave.
  • Topic: Health, Governance, Global Political Economy, Vaccine, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Ina Lehmann, César Rodríguez Garavito, Anna Spenceley
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic is a global human health crisis that is deeply intertwined with the global biodiversity crisis. It originated when a zoonotic virus spilled over from wild animals to humans. Viruses can spread easily in disturbed ecosystems, and with increasing contact between humans and wildlife the risk of contagion grows. Conservation is crucial to reduce the risks of future pandemics, but the current pandemic also impacts on conservation in many ways. In this Briefing Paper we suggest strategies to alleviate the pandemic’s adverse effects on conservation in the Global South. Many zoonoses originate there, and livelihoods are strongly dependent on natural resources. The paper considers the pandemic’s overarching economic implica-tions for protected and other conserved areas, and specific ramifications for the tourism and wildlife trade sectors, which are closely related to these areas. As economies shrink, natural resources come under pressure from various sides. Financial resources are reallocated from the conservation to the health sector, countries decrease environmental protection standards to boost economic recovery, and poor people in rural regions resort to protected wild resources as a subsistence strategy. Together, these trends speed up the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services and create supportive conditions for the emergence of zoonotic disease and the undermining of livelihoods.
  • Topic: Environment, Natural Resources, Nature, COVID-19, Health Crisis
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Simon Happersberger, Eleanor Mateo, Selcukhan Ünekbas
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Trade and Economic Integration, The Graduate Institute (IHEID)
  • Abstract: Fossil fuel subsidies have negative consequences on the climate change, public budgets and and the transition to an environmentally friendly economy. Nevertheless, governments do not keep up with their commitments to phase out fossil fuel subsidies but misallocate again COVID-19 recovery funds in fossil fuel subsidies. This article provides an analysis of the current obstacles for phasing out fossil fuel subsidies and the potential of the WTO to advance a reform on fossil fuel subsidies. It argues that the WTO can contribute to a fossil fuel subsidies reform by its technical expertise in regulating subsidies, by its broad membership and by its institutional setting. Under the current framework of the ASCM, WTO member can use existing mechanisms, such as the TPRM, to increase transparency in the short term and facilitate discussions on the scope of subsidies while mitigating impacts on vulnerable groups or sectors. This would provide the ground for governments to work towards a new and ambitious agreement to stop producer fossil fuels subsidies and phase out consumer fossil fuels subsidies in the mid-to-long-term. However, the phase out of consumer subsidies needs to be carefully designed and embedded, to avoid unintended consequences on energy access and vulnerable households.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, International Trade and Finance, Natural Resources, Trade, Fossil Fuels, COVID-19, WTO, Ecology
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Gemma Dipoppa, Guy Grossman, Stephanie Zonszein
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Empirical Studies of Conflict Project (ESOC)
  • Abstract: Covid-19 caused a significant health and economic crisis, a condition identified as conducive to stigmatization and hateful behavior against minority groups. It is however unclear whether the threat of infection triggers violence in addition to stigmatization, and whether a violent reaction can happen at the onset of an unexpected economic shock before social hierarchies can be disrupted. Using a novel database of hate crimes across Italy, we show that (i) hate crimes against Asians increased substantially at the pandemic onset, and that (ii) the increase was concentrated in cities with higher expected unemployment, but not higher mortality. We then examine individual, local and national mobilization as mechanisms. We find that (iii) local far-right institutions motivate hate crimes, while we find no support for the role of individual prejudice and national discourse. Our study identifies new conditions triggering hateful behavior, advancing our understanding of factors hindering migrant integration.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Minorities, Violence, Far Right, Hate Speech, COVID-19, Racism, Hate Groups
  • Political Geography: United States, Italy, Global Focus
  • Author: Maryna Tverdostup
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (WIIW)
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic has highly asymmetric effects on labour market outcomes of men and women. In this paper, we empirically investigate the dynamics and drivers of gender gaps in employment rates, wages and workhours during the pandemic. Relying on Estonian Labour Force Survey data, we document that the pandemic has, if anything, reduced gender inequality in all three domains. Our results suggest that, while the evolution of inequalities mirrored the infection rate development – rising as infections mounted and declining as the first wave flattened – overall, the pandemic did not exacerbate gender gaps in 2020. The cyclical increases in gender disparities were largely driven by parenthood, as child-rearing women experienced a major decline in their employment rate and workhours, as well as gender segregation in the most affected industries. The higher propensity to work from home and better educational attainments of women deterred gender wage gap expansion, as wage returns to telework and education rose during the pandemic. Our results suggest no systematic expansion of gender gaps, but rather short-term fluctuations. However, labour market penalties for women with young children and women employed in those industries most affected by COVID-19 may last longer than the pandemic, threatening to widen gender inequality in the long run.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Labor Issues, Employment, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Abigail Bellows, Nada Zohdy
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: The pandemic is spurring elite and grassroots civic actors to cooperate more, but the gulf between them remains wide. Civic actors must seize the opportunity for reform on open government issues. From Africa to Latin America to Europe, the coronavirus pandemic has generated a surge in public demand for government transparency and accountability. To seize this window for reform, elite and grassroots civic actors concerned with open governance must overcome the cleavage that has long existed between them. Thus far, the pandemic has catalyzed some new civic collaborations, but not at the scale or depth needed to seize that window. In general, civil society groups report feeling more isolated during the pandemic. In some places, the urgency of tackling open government issues during the pandemic has helped overcome that isolation by deepening partnerships among existing networks. But in other places, those partnerships have yet to take shape, and new alliances are less likely to form without the benefit of face-to-face interactions. Even the partnerships that have crystallized or deepened do not appear to be changing the fundamental roles of elite and grassroots civic actors. It is possible that this shift may happen over time. Or it may be that the pandemic alone is not enough to dislodge structural barriers to deeper cooperation. The pandemic has dramatically changed the operations of elite and grassroots actors alike. The impact of those changes on collaboration between the two depends on preexisting levels of technological capacity. In places with limited connectivity, the pandemic has exacerbated the digital divide, adversely affecting grassroots actors. Meanwhile, in places with good connectivity, technology is enabling broader (though shallower) participation, laying the groundwork for more elite-grassroots collaboration. Although many civil society groups are struggling financially during the pandemic, those effects are mitigated to some degree by continuing donor interest in the open government sector. This is encouraging, as coalition building requires dedicated, flexible resources. Finally, it is a more dangerous time to be working on open government issues in general, and grassroots actors bear disproportionate risks in doing so. This underscores the need for more vertical alliances to mitigate civic space threats.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Government, Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Arusha Cooray, Krishna Chaitanya Vadlamannati, Indra de Soysa
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: How has government healthcare spending prepared countries for tackling the COVID-19 pandemic? Arguably, spending is the primary policy tool of governments in providing effective health. We argue that the effectiveness of spending in reducing COVID deaths is conditional on the existence of healthcare equity and lower political corruption, because the health sector is particularly susceptible to political spending. Our results, obtained using ordinary least squares (OLS) and two-stage least squares (2SLS) estimation, suggest that higher spending targeted at reducing inequitable access to health has reduced COVID deaths. Consistent with the findings of others, our results indirectly suggest that health spending is necessary, but not sufficient unless accompanied by building resilience against the spread of deadly disease. Equitable health systems ease the effects of COVID presumably because they allow states to reach and treat people. Spending aimed at increasing health system capacity by increasing access thus seems a sound strategy for fighting the spread of disease, ultimately benefiting us all.
  • Topic: Health Care Policy, COVID-19, Equity, Regression Analysis
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Dmitry Grozoubinski
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: In the midst of a pandemic and escalating global protectionism, the WTO's paralysed dispute settlement system, largely immobilised negotiations, and chronically underutilised monitoring and compliance function, are groaning under the weight of trade tensions, unilateralism, and neglect. Technical work in Geneva is part of the solution, but is insufficient on its own to resolve the Organization’s short- and long-term problems. Political leaders who still believe in the wisdom of predictable, rules-based trade must build coalitions to expand that structure, while forcing the difficult conversations about what a WTO acceptable to the major powers looks like, and investing in the painstaking rebuilding of business and civil society engagement with trade policy.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, World Trade Organization, COVID-19, Financial Stability
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Ricardo Hausmann, Ulrich Schetter
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: In this paper, we develop a heterogeneous agent general equilibrium framework to analyze optimal joint policies of a lockdown and transfer payments in times of a pandemic. In our model, the effectiveness of a lockdown in mitigating the pandemic depends on endogenous compliance. A more stringent lockdown deepens the recession which implies that poorer parts of society find it harder to subsist. This reduces their compliance with the lockdown, and may cause deprivation of the very poor, giving rise to an excruciating trade-off between saving lives from the pandemic and from deprivation. Lump-sum transfers help mitigate this trade-off. We identify and discuss key trade-offs involved and provide comparative statics for optimal policy. We show that, ceteris paribus, the optimal lockdown is stricter for more severe pandemics and in richer countries. We then consider a government borrowing constraint and show that limited fiscal space lowers the optimal lockdown and welfare, and increases the aggregate death burden during the pandemic. We finally discuss distributional consequences and the political economy of fighting a pandemic.
  • Topic: Development, Government, Political Economy, Inequality, Economic Growth, Fiscal Policy, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Michele Collazzo, Alexandra Tyan
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: “A human crisis that is fast becoming a human rights crisis”. UN Secretary General António Guterres was among the first to raise the alarm about possible human rights implications of government measures to fight COVID-19. Since its outbreak, 87 states – both authoritarian and established democracies – have declared a state of emergency to curb the spread of the virus, which implies certain derogations from international human rights conventions. Protecting the right to life and physical integrity are fundamental duties facing government authorities, commitments enshrined in law – specifically Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Derogations from human rights conventions are permissible under certain circumstances, but any limitation must be motivated by absolute necessity, must not be disproportionate and must be limited in time.
  • Topic: Security, Human Rights, Democracy, Media, Crisis Management, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Sean Hagan
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Over the past 40 years, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has played a central role in the sovereign debt restructuring process. If the COVID-19 pandemic leads to a significant wave of sovereign debt distress, this role will be closely scrutinized. The paper analyzes how IMF policies have evolved to shape the incentives of sovereigns and their creditors at each stage of the sovereign debt restructuring process. It also identifies a number of issues that the IMF will likely have to address as a result of the pandemic, including (1) assessment of debt sustainability in a macroeconomic environment of considerable uncertainty, (2) treatment of official bilateral creditors, and (3) potential benefits—and challenges—of introducing additional incentives to maximize creditor participation in any debt restructuring.
  • Topic: Debt, Emerging Markets, Government, International Monetary Fund, Financial Crisis, Macroeconomics, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Mika Aaltola
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Since late 2019, the world has sought – frantically at times – to appropriate policies for responding to the coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19). This Working Paper reviews the political significance of Covid-19 in order to understand the ways in which it challenges the existing domestic order, international health governance actors and, more fundamentally, the circulation-based modus operandi of the present world order. The analysis begins with the argument that contagious diseases should be regarded as complex open-ended phenomena with various features; they are not reducible to biology and epidemiology alone. In particular, politics and social reactions – in the form of panic and blamecasting, for example – are prominent features with clear historical patterns, and should not, for the sake of efficient health governance, be treated as aspects extraneous to the disease itself. The Working Paper further highlights that when a serious infectious disease spreads, a “threat” is very often externalized into a culturally meaningful “foreign” entity. Pandemics tend to be territorialized, nationalized, ethnicized, and racialized. This has also been the case with Covid-19.
  • Topic: Governance, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Tyyne Karjalainen
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Covid-19 highlights the relevance of sharing information at a time of crisis. The revision of International Health Regulations in 2005 aimed to prevent the international spread of diseases, but the response to the novel virus shows that gaps in global health security remain. At the same time, authorities at all levels need to gain citizens’ trust in order to design an effective response.
  • Topic: Leadership, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Marjorie Pajaron
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center
  • Abstract: COVID-19 presents humanity with not just a health crisis but also a governance crisis as leaders around the globe confront the challenges of stemming the spread of the virus. Various governments have responded in various ways to slow the transmission of the virus. Ideally, the leaders of a country should approach the crisis with a two-pronged attack. The first is to flatten the epidemic curve (epi curve), which is simply a graphical representation of the number of cases and date of onset of the illness, and the second is to raise or strengthen the capacity of the health system. Flattening the epi curve includes mass testing for COVID-19, which has been done in South Korea, for example. Decreasing the incidence also includes quarantine, isolation, and other social distancing strategies, which have been done by various countries in varying degrees. For example, in China, total lockdown (cordon sanitaire) was implemented in Wuhan, of the Hubei province, while in the Philippines, the entire Luzon, which consists of eight administrative regions, including the national capital region (NCR), was in total lockdown (enhanced community quarantine, or ECQ) since March 16 (World Health Organization [WHO] 2020a). Other parts of the Philippines were under different degrees of quarantine at different periods since the appearance of local transmission. Raising the health care system capacity of a country may include, but is not limited to, training of health care workers, increasing facilities or hospitals that receive COVID patients, and providing adequate personal protective equipment (PPE). This paper offers a brief epidemiological review of COVID-19 since its first case in China and how the hotspots for this disease evolved and changed over a relatively short period. This paper also aims to provide a short descriptive review of the existing data on COVID-19 in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region and the government response of its ten member countries, so that we can somehow draw lessons and learn from these myriad experiences as we continue to combat the spread of this dangerous pathogen. The findings in this paper are preliminary, and more rigorous analysis is expected to be performed as the data becomes more extensive and available.
  • Topic: Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19, Travel , Quarantine
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Nendirmwa Noel, Sarah Cliffe
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: This short memo summarizes issues linking the COVID-19 pandemic and food prices. There is a real risk of a food price crisis emerging as a result of the pandemic, for the following reasons: Food systems are facing a complex set of demand and supply shocks during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes increased demand due to hoarding versus decreased demand due to containment measures; lower prices for food system inputs, such as petroleum, versus decreased supply due to disruption of production, transport and trade. There seems to be a risk that rice, and possibly wheat, see a price surge which disconnects them from the downward trend in other basic commodities. There is also undoubtedly a risk that specific countries and large urban settlements see sharp increases in prices of scarce commodities, as protests in Afghanistan and in Nigeria have already shown this week. The crisis is coming just as farmers in many parts of the world are about to begin planting, and action is therefore needed now.
  • Topic: Governance, Food Security, Multilateralism, Crisis Management, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Sarah Cliffe, Leah Zamore, Nendirmwa Noel
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: As the coronavirus pandemic spreads across the globe, people are also moving in response to the threat of the virus and the actions states have taken to stem its transmission. This memo examines population movements in pandemics and offers relevant policy recommendations. In this policy memo, Sarah Cliffe, Leah Zamore, and Nendirmwa Noel detail the history of population movements during pandemics, provide an overview of the internal and cross-border movements now taking place around the world, and give examples of the restrictions and other measures governments are implementing to to respond. They also supply a number of concrete policy recommendations goverments can take now to improve their management of internal and cross-border movement in the face of COVID-19.
  • Topic: Governance, Conflict, Borders, Humanitarian Crisis, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs
  • Abstract: This is a Pugwash document concerning nuclear problems and tensions in the time of COVID-19. This document has been co-signed by an extensive list of Pugwash colleagues and personalities. We hope that it might promote debate about how to improve international cooperation and, in particular, the reduction of international tensions that may bring new risks
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Military Strategy, Nonproliferation, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus