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mong the many lessons that will have been learned following the COVID-19 pandemic is the need for some new codes of conduct for what to do in the event of a pandemic, how to better marshal resources, and how to achieve better collaboration internationally. There are, of course, numerous examples of global collaboration following calamities, such as the creation of the United Nations (UN), International Monetary Fund, and World Bank following World War II. Many other multilateral organizations were created in the decades that followed, all in response to enduring global needs. 

One area in which the COVID-19 pandemic has amply demonstrated an increased need for collaboration is in biological weapon defense. The Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) has 147 member states and prohibits them from developing, producing, stockpiling, or otherwise acquiring equipment to deliver biological agents. But that has not prevented some of the world’s most weapons-capable nations of doing just that.

Approximately 50 nations remain outside the scope of the Convention, but in addition, the BWC has no verification measures to ensure compliance. It has been clear for decades now that some member states have either violated the Convention or operated illegal bioweapons programs. The BWC charter should therefore be updated to add compliance and enforcement provisions. The pandemic should incentivize those nations that have not joined to do so, as well as motivate member nations to put some teeth into the Convention.

COVID-19 also served to emphasize how politicized the World Health Organization (WHO) has become and how inadequate its response to the virus was. While he was busy placating the Chinese government, the WHO’s director general did not declare a global pandemic until March, when 114 countries had already recorded cases of the virus. According to the WHO’s 2017 Pandemic Influenza Risk Management guidelines, the director general may make a declaration of a pandemic based on his/her risk assessment—but there are no specific guidelines for what constitutes a pandemic, when it should be declared, or how nations should universally respond. That must change. Going forward, specific guidelines should be established for what constitutes a pandemic, when it should be declared, and how nations should respond.

It is worth noting, also, that there was a marked increase in hacking, phishing attempts, and online threat as the virus progressed around the world, emphasizing how vulnerable many governments, businesses, and individuals remain to hacking and cyber warfare. There is a compelling case to be made for the creation of a World Cybersecurity Organization (WCO) to provide much needed focus on identifying threats, sharing information about the latest hacking techniques, distributing software updates, and sending teams of specialists to address incidents that threaten national economies and their security.

The WCO’s mandate could include crafting a set of universal laws designed to combat cybercrime and hacking. That may be the only way to commence the badly needed effort for a set of globally applicable laws to fight it. Part of what such laws might entail is coming to agreement on what would constitute a crime, as well as having a common agreement on how jurisdiction would be applied and enforced.

These three recommendations are illustrative of the enormous task that awaits the world’s nations once the spread of the virus has been abated and a vaccine is found. The objective is to establish a proactive footing, mindful that it is only a matter of time until another robust response is required of the global community. The world’s nations should never again be caught flat footed. Creating new multilateral organizations, and enhancing the ability of existing organizations to respond to future calamities more meaningfully, should be considered a minimal response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

About
Daniel Wagner
:
Daniel Wagner is CEO of Country Risk Solutions and author, most recently, of the book The America-China Divide.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.

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www.diplomaticourier.com

The Need for New Codes of Conduct

May 26, 2020

A

mong the many lessons that will have been learned following the COVID-19 pandemic is the need for some new codes of conduct for what to do in the event of a pandemic, how to better marshal resources, and how to achieve better collaboration internationally. There are, of course, numerous examples of global collaboration following calamities, such as the creation of the United Nations (UN), International Monetary Fund, and World Bank following World War II. Many other multilateral organizations were created in the decades that followed, all in response to enduring global needs. 

One area in which the COVID-19 pandemic has amply demonstrated an increased need for collaboration is in biological weapon defense. The Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) has 147 member states and prohibits them from developing, producing, stockpiling, or otherwise acquiring equipment to deliver biological agents. But that has not prevented some of the world’s most weapons-capable nations of doing just that.

Approximately 50 nations remain outside the scope of the Convention, but in addition, the BWC has no verification measures to ensure compliance. It has been clear for decades now that some member states have either violated the Convention or operated illegal bioweapons programs. The BWC charter should therefore be updated to add compliance and enforcement provisions. The pandemic should incentivize those nations that have not joined to do so, as well as motivate member nations to put some teeth into the Convention.

COVID-19 also served to emphasize how politicized the World Health Organization (WHO) has become and how inadequate its response to the virus was. While he was busy placating the Chinese government, the WHO’s director general did not declare a global pandemic until March, when 114 countries had already recorded cases of the virus. According to the WHO’s 2017 Pandemic Influenza Risk Management guidelines, the director general may make a declaration of a pandemic based on his/her risk assessment—but there are no specific guidelines for what constitutes a pandemic, when it should be declared, or how nations should universally respond. That must change. Going forward, specific guidelines should be established for what constitutes a pandemic, when it should be declared, and how nations should respond.

It is worth noting, also, that there was a marked increase in hacking, phishing attempts, and online threat as the virus progressed around the world, emphasizing how vulnerable many governments, businesses, and individuals remain to hacking and cyber warfare. There is a compelling case to be made for the creation of a World Cybersecurity Organization (WCO) to provide much needed focus on identifying threats, sharing information about the latest hacking techniques, distributing software updates, and sending teams of specialists to address incidents that threaten national economies and their security.

The WCO’s mandate could include crafting a set of universal laws designed to combat cybercrime and hacking. That may be the only way to commence the badly needed effort for a set of globally applicable laws to fight it. Part of what such laws might entail is coming to agreement on what would constitute a crime, as well as having a common agreement on how jurisdiction would be applied and enforced.

These three recommendations are illustrative of the enormous task that awaits the world’s nations once the spread of the virus has been abated and a vaccine is found. The objective is to establish a proactive footing, mindful that it is only a matter of time until another robust response is required of the global community. The world’s nations should never again be caught flat footed. Creating new multilateral organizations, and enhancing the ability of existing organizations to respond to future calamities more meaningfully, should be considered a minimal response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

About
Daniel Wagner
:
Daniel Wagner is CEO of Country Risk Solutions and author, most recently, of the book The America-China Divide.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.