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Leveraging diplomacy in Covid era

Leveraging diplomacy in Covid era

Covid-19 is one of the major crises that the world has faced in the 21st century and in fact the most serious health crisis globally. It is reported that, in 2020, one out of every four deaths is related to Covid-19. This captures the seriousness of this deadly pandemic. Its ramifications have been felt from Beijing to Washington and from Cairo to London. The whole world is struggling to deal with it in one way or another. The pandemic has exposed the fragilities and vulnerabilities of health and social infrastructures of communities and societies. This pandemic has once again reiterated the importance of concerted efforts of countries and international organisations to work collaboratively to fight together. Undoubtedly, dealing with the pandemic necessitates intensive international diplomacy spearheaded by the UN in tandem with national governments, NGOs and international intergovernmental agencies. The piece will specifically discuss how the diplomatic communities dealt with the pandemic in conformity with international Covid-19 protocols.

Impact on International Diplomatic engagements

Diplomatic missions were frantically busy about how to ensure the health and safety of the people in countries they operated. Most countries organised special repatriation flights to repatriate their nationals.  This necessitated massive international cooperation between diplomatic missions and the host countries in order to facilitate these efforts.  The pandemic also has immeasurable implications for international diplomacy in terms of arrangements to ensure the continuation of the cargo flights carrying food,  medication and other essential items. Despite lockdown in some countries, governments ensured that security was maintained through intelligence cooperation that diplomatic missions were able to give. Therefore, it was important to have diplomatic channels opened between diplomatic missions and host governments at this critical moment. Internally, it is important that state organs function effectively to be able to respond to challenges in tandem with international agencies. In addition, it is important to note how diplomatic missions have been involved to offer consular assistance to their stranded citizens and particularly students who would like to return home. Another important diplomatic effort is to acquire needed medical equipment for their countries. It is suggested that lack of earlier speedy transition collaboration between Clinton Administration and Bush in 2000 could have led to intelligence sharing lapses in the tragic 9/11 attacks on America. Observers are apprehensive of the refusal of President Trump to concede defeat might cause intelligence lapses between his Administration and Biden Administration. 

Going Forward

It is evident that Covid-19 will continue to preoccupy policymakers, politicians and scientists with regards to developing effective vaccines and how to use digital technology in diplomacy referred to as digital diplomacy. One of the diplomatic implications for the pandemic is how governments make concerted efforts to give themselves a good image in the international community. The biggest opportunity of the pandemic is how indeed the world has become a global village and the need for collaboration to respond to global challenges on one hand. On the other, the main challenge is the dissimilar and disproportionate response to the pandemic. In terms of access to health facilities, there is a clear disparity between the developed and the less developed countries. 

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