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  • Author: Mika Aaltola, Johanna Ketola, Aada Peltonen, Karoliina Vaakanainen
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Although their timing and nature is unexpected and disrupts normality, pandemics are not black swans, but rather an expected feature of a feverishly con- nected and globalizing world. Since the end of the Cold War, there have been several serious cases of and close calls with pandemics, including SARS in 2003, H1N1 infuenza (“swine fu”) in 2009 and Ebola in 2014. By now, we know the usual features of pandemics, how they emerge and the shape of their temporal context: rapid onset leading to a politically compelling impact followed by decreasing attention and lessening restric- tive policies resulting, in some cases, in the return of the disease. Te most serious pandemics, like the 1918 infuenza pandemic (“Spanish fu”), come in waves. Te less restrictive policies are followed by subsequent waves, partially propelled by diminishing attention and wishful policies until a cure or vaccination is found, or immunity achieved. Despite the growing awareness, pandemic diseases nevertheless often catch us of guard and bring about human misery. Te latest form of Severe Acute Res- piratory Syndrome caused by a novel coronavirus, Covid-19, which spread like wildfre around the globe in 2020, came as a surprise even though the point of origin and secrecy surrounding its emergence were similar to that of its predecessor, SARS, in 2003. In other words, pandemics continue to include “un- known” aspects, which have to do with their specifc characteristics, perhaps most notably their timing, but also other features such as infection and fatality rates, patterns of spread, and the outbreak location zone(s). Our starting point in this Working Paper is that se- rious contagious diseases are political as their cascad- ing and nonlinear efects impact people’s livelihoods and disrupt normality. Tis applies to the most recent coronavirus pandemic, as highlighted in this paper. Te key research question concerns how the European Union (EU) and its member states, illustrated through the case of Finland, became aware of the prevailing health crisis, and the kind of political ramifications that the response had, and could have had. Te focus of this paper is on the frst two and a half months of the coronavirus pandemic, from January to mid-March 2020, by which time the pandemic had replaced the prevailing agendas in the EU and in its member states and saturated the public debate, reach- ing a tipping point. Te onset entails a build-up to a clear situational policy necessity, a sentiment that drastic, exceptional actions need to be taken to con- tain or at least to slow down the pandemic outbreak, as well as a remorseful debate and fnger-pointing at actions that should have been taken sooner. Te paper studies this build-up phase while recognizing that the next phase of political reaction to a pandemic tends to include the sentiment that enough has been done or even that the actions that were taken earlier were somewhat excessive and overblown.1 Tis phase may be followed by – and is an important constituent of – yet another phase, the second wave of the pandemic. The timeframe for the Working Paper extends to mid-March 2020 when Covid-19 became the prevail- ing topic of public concern in Europe. We refer to this prevalence as the tipping point. Te term tipping point is used to identify the critical juncture, both nation- ally as well as in the EU, when sudden changes to be- haviour took place at the public and political levels. At such moments, public attention becomes heightened, single-issue focused, and rushed. Te pressure for po- litical action becomes paramount. Te mobilization of resources as well as the introduction of diferent states of emergency suddenly seem possible. Te emergent, situational requirements become the context for pol- icymaking, instead of the requirements of the then prevailing normality; namely, exceptional political acts can prevail when urgency seems to necessitate them. Te situated characteristics of a pandemic include a heightened sense of exceptionality, particularly if there is a sense that prior preparations at national, regional, and global levels were inadequate and the contingency planning insufcient. Any delays and hesitations are easily seen as weaknesses although, in normal times, they are often the keys to stable and rational political deliberation. Tis was the scenario that actualized with Covid-19, as the preparedness planning for pandem- ic security was largely perceived as defcient and the global as well as the European regional coordination in short supply.
  • Topic: Security, Regional Cooperation, European Union, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe, Finland
  • Author: Mika Aaltola, Johanna Ketola, Karoliina Vaakanainen, Aada Peltonen
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Solidarity has become a global and regional buzzword in the fght against Covid-19. As a result of the unequal and shifting disease burden and resource scarcity among countries, solidarity has manifested itself in various forms depending on the national and regional contexts and disease situations. Politicians worldwide have called for solidarity, which has taken many shapes and forms. At the nation- al and sub-national level, Covid-19 has prompted calls for communal solidarity. Solidarity, at the EU level, has often been used as a synonym for intra-EU coordination and assistance between member states as well as safe- guarding the welfare of EU citizens. In the global arena, UN and WHO leadership has been pushing for global sol- idarity to highlight the global nature and scope of the crisis, simultaneously alluding to the uneven distribu- tion of vaccines and the embedded systemic injustices in global health governance. Tis mosaic of solidarities difers from the normative ideal. In this Briefng Paper, we explore the diferent types of pandemic solidarities to understand the political dis- course during the frst year of the Covid-19 pandemic. We analyze the solidarity rhetoric of the high political leadership as well as key solidarity initiatives at three diferent governance levels: global (UN), regional (EU), and national (case Finland) to see how solidarity has been defned, in which context, and to what ends. Compared to other types of emergencies, pandemics are in a league of their own. One key characteristic of a pandemic emergency is the anxiety connected to the processes of contagion, infection, and spread. As the term ‘pandemic’ signifes, the frst line of defence at the local level has failed, as happened in the initial stage of Covid-19. Whereas natural catastrophes are usually lo- cally contained without additional concerns stemming from the fear of spread, pandemics are, to a degree, an- ti-humanitarian by their very nature. Tey usually lead to a knee-jerk reaction to step back and bufer oneself to prevent the harm from spreading.1 From this per- spective, pandemic solidarity is far more limited and qualitatively diferent. Instead of compassion for distant. others, a nearest-and-dearest approach can ensue. Tis Briefng Paper argues that lower levels of soli- darity should act as enablers for better pandemic gov- ernance at the global level. Until now, the impact of na- tional and regional solidarity has been relatively bleak. Calls for solidarity can act as empty signifers or merely as political rhetoric that is not tied to any concrete efort or action. To shed light on the meanings of solidarity, it is important to identify and distinguish the operative nature of solidarity, or lack thereof, in various contexts.
  • Topic: Security, International Cooperation, Governance, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Emma Hakala
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Conflict-related damage to the environment has become widespread and causes sustained harm to public health, ecosystems, and peacebuilding. The International Law Commission (ILC) will finalize its work on new principles for the protection of the environment in relation to armed conflict (the PERAC principles) in 2022. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) published an updated iteration of its Guidelines on the Protection of the Natural Environment in Armed Conflict in 2020. International momentum is gathering for states to implement these frameworks. However, independent mechanisms to monitor the implementation are currently lacking. The international community and civil society actors need to ensure transparent monitoring mechanisms that enable stakeholders to pressure states into compliance.
  • Topic: Environment, International Cooperation, Conflict, Peace, Public Health
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Katariina Mustasilta
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Armed conflicts around the world have continued largely unabated, irrespective of the global pandemic. Despite influencing conflict-affected contexts, the pandemic has not (thus far) been a gamechanger regarding conflicts. Both non-state and state actors have tried to seize opportunities stemming from the pandemic measures for their own benefit. This, along with changes in the footprint of peacebuilding efforts, has threatened human security. In the long term, socioeconomic repercussions of the pandemic pose the gravest threats to peace. The socioeconomic fallout can induce conflict by undermining the social contract and social cohesion, particularly in contexts with conflict legacies, deep inequalities, and high external economic dependencies. The EU has multiple tools that it can deploy in its external action to mitigate the conflict-inducing repercussions of the pandemic. Taking preventive action requires a long-term perspective, even amidst the unfolding crisis.
  • Topic: Inequality, Conflict, Peace, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Sinikukka Saari
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The Russian science, technology and innovation (STI) system is geared towards global geoeconomic competitiveness and is based on three S’s: state control, sovereignty and self-sufficiency. State-sponsored biotechnological innovation is a component in Russia’s geoeconomic strategy: in the case of Sputnik V, Russia’s commercial and strategic objectives are intertwined. The Russian state’s close involvement in development, marketing and propagating Sputnik V – as well as its readiness to skip standard practices in order to make headway with the product – create well-founded distrust towards it in Western markets. In the emerging and developing markets, Sputnik V suffers from insufficient manufacturing capacity. In many countries, only a fraction of promised doses have been delivered, and setting up local manufacturing capacity outside the EAEU takes time. The European states should pay more attention to linkages between Russian innovation policies and its foreign, security and military policies. For Russia, these are not separate silos but build upon and support each other.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Public Health, Strategic Competition, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • 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: Charly Salonius-Pasternak
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: To address Covid-19, Finland has activated its Emergency Powers Act for the first time ever. While the outcome remains uncertain, Finland’s plan for how to protect its citizens and vital functions of society has withstood its initial confrontation with reality. The authorities are cooperating with private and third-sector actors to ensure that implementation is effective and to anticipate further steps.
  • Topic: Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19, Medicine
  • Political Geography: Europe, Finland
  • Author: Jyrki Kallio
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: China has garnered international goodwill by aiding countries hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. China is in a position to show that it takes its ideal of creating a global community with a shared future seriously. However, the country’s other actions undermine its soft-power dissemination efforts.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Marco Siddi
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Thus far, Italy has been the EU member most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the first one to take drastic measures to fight contagion. The country is now a reference for lessons learned and a test case for solidarity in the EU.
  • Topic: European Union, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe, Italy
  • Author: Mariette Hagglund
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In Iran, the response to the coronavirus pandemic would require cooperation but is marred by the politicization of the crisis. Iran faces a difficult balancing act between different segments of society amid a serious economic situation that also encompasses international power politics.
  • Topic: Power Politics, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • 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: Veera Laine, Jussi Lassila
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In Russia, the confirmed Covid-19 infections have been suspiciously few. The official numbers do not reflect reality as there has been no systematic testing at any phase of the epidemic. Now, however, the number of cases has risen rapidly, and the new situation has an effect on the Kremlin’s position in the eyes of the people.
  • Topic: Leadership, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Saila Heinikoski
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Free movement within the Schengen Area has been challenged in recent years by national measures: from internal border checks after the ‘migration crisis’ to the closure of borders in the Covid-19 crisis. This is the first time in the history of Schengen that member states have categorically refused entry to other EU citizens who are not registered residents or cross-border workers. Seventeen Schengen countries have submitted a notification on reintroducing internal border control due to Covid-19: Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Switzerland. The use of Schengen provisions was creative: 12 states justified their internal border controls as a case requiring immediate action (Art. 28), France and Denmark expanded their already existing internal border controls (Art. 25), Finland appealed to the ‘foreseeable event’ clause (Art. 25), and Slovakia and Poland introduced ‘healthcare-police measures’ (Art. 23) before launching border controls (Art. 28). The crisis illustrates the need to reform Schengen in order to maintain the legitimacy of commonly agreed rules.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, European Union, Public Health, Schengen, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe, Finland, Norway, France, Poland, Lithuania, Germany, Estonia, Belgium, Denmark, Hungary, Spain, Switzerland, Portugal, Iceland, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia
  • Author: Arkady Moshes, Ryhor Nizhnikau, Kristiina Silvan
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The pandemic is testing the effectiveness of the Eurasian Economic Union. However, its actions demonstrate the fundamental flaws of this integration project instead.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe, Asia
  • Author: Niklas Helwig
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Covid-19 has revealed the risks of Europe’s global dependencies in strategic sectors and intensified the debate on European strategic autonomy. While some argue for a self-sufficient Europe, a smart approach to globalization is in the EU’s interest.
  • Topic: Globalization, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Mariette Hagglund
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Changes in the security environment and Sweden’s related policy changes adopted in the early 2000s made large national-level planning and organization unnecessary. This led to a decentralization of Sweden’s crisis preparedness system. Covid-19 is the latest reminder of some of the shortcomings in Sweden’s crisis preparedness. Previous warning signs were the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia, and the forest fires in 2014 and 2018. A major effort is currently underway in Sweden to build a streamlined system to respond to the broad scope of vulnerabilities and threats. A functioning crisis preparedness system is not only important in itself, but also as a contribution to Sweden’s total defence efforts. Rebuilding the system, however, will be slow and costly. Sweden’s crisis preparedness system is characterized by a complex authority landscape and discrepancies between sectors and regions. While the Swedish constitution does not allow for exceptions in crises, and ministerial governance is forbidden, the Covid-19 situation may spark a discussion about the need for changes in the legal framework.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Crisis Management, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe, Sweden
  • Author: Maria Annala
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Voters’ trust in the American elections has eroded. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic hit the United States, an alarming number of voters lacked confidence in the fairness of the upcoming elections. Ensuring that Americans can vote safely despite the pandemic requires major changes to how the elections are conducted. This increases the risk of mistakes and failures, partisan feuds over the rules, and accusations of foul play. If disputes over the practicalities of voting are prolonged, it could cause large-scale voter confusion and lead to a low turnout and high ballot rejection rates. Many voters are likely to vote by mail to protect themselves from the virus. However, few states are adequately prepared to receive a large percentage of their ballots by mail. To make matters worse, the United States Postal Service is on the brink of collapse. The result of the elections may be unclear for days or even weeks, firstly due to delays in counting the absentee ballots and thereafter because of litigation. This may result in both presidential candidates declaring themselves the winner and bring about an unprecedented constitutional crisis.
  • Topic: Elections, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: United States, North America
  • Author: Katja Creutz
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The coronavirus pandemic has roiled international relations. The huge global toll of the pandemic, both in terms of deaths and economic implications, has raised the question of Chinese responsibility. This Working Paper analyzes China’s responsibility for Covid-19 under international law. In order for state responsibility to arise, China must have committed an internationally wrongful act. The conduct must be attributable to China and must constitute a breach of its international obligations. An analysis of the timeframe concerning the main measures undertaken by Chinese authorities at different government levels shows a lag in reporting the outbreak to WHO according to the International Health Regulations. Hence, there appears to be a case for injured states to invoke China’s responsibility. The prospects for implementation are nevertheless bleak. A tacit understanding seems to prevail among states not to pursue the spread of pathogens in terms of legal responsibility or litigation. Whether major power rivalry or the enormous costs of the pandemic will change this non-confrontational tradition of dealing with pathogens remains to be seen.
  • Topic: Leadership, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Tuomas Iso-Markku, Niklas Helwig
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In view of the pervasiveness of the Covid-19 crisis, Germany has rightly announced that its presidency of the Council of the EU in the second half of 2020 will be a ‘Corona presidency’. However, it will also have to address other immediate issues as well as further longer-term priorities of the EU. The initial phase of the pandemic was characterised by largely uncoordinated member state action. The issues and instruments now on the table, particularly concerning economic recovery, are closer to the core of the EU’s authority, underlining the importance of a successful presidency. Somewhat surprisingly, the Covid crisis has moulded European politics in a way that may facilitate the work of the German presidency. The positions of the member states appear less fixed, whereas the German government itself has more domestic leeway than before the crisis. The political situation in the EU and in Germany remains highly volatile and the presidency’s success depends on factors that are partly out of Berlin’s control: the development of the pandemic, the depth of the economic slump and the public perception of the EU’s and Germany’s crisis management measures.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, European Union, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Author: Toni Alaranta
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: This study analyzes Turkish foreign policy narratives generated by the Covid-19 pandemic, and their intellectual and political context provided by Western debates. The approach is based on the assumption that the narratives about the pandemic provide an interesting window through which to observe the long-term fears and hopes concerning international politics in Turkey. The study utilizes Steven Ward’s conceptualization of distributive and normative revisionism as a theoretical framework for analyzing Turkey’s increasingly assertive foreign policy. It also discusses the analytical limits of this concept by introducing the idea of revisionism as a familiar narrative trope in Western International Relations scholarship. The study demonstrates that while Turkey remains loosely attached to its traditional commitment to defend the existing order, it increasingly expresses its dissatisfaction within that order, sometimes pushing it to the limits, and taking action that could even be defined as normative, or radical, revisionism.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19, Revisionism
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Asia