COVID and International Organisations


What Has Happened?

A wide array of international organisations have played a critical role in responding to the social, political and economic implications of the coronavirus, an unprecedented health crisis in the modern era. 

The WHO has issued recommendations with controversial domestic consequences, for example on travel restrictions or widespread testing.It has used its expert network to provide relevant information, issued over 50 pieces of technical guidance, distributed medical equipment and test kits and established a supply chain task force in cooperation with the world food programme, Most importantly it has supported countries’ capacities for preparedness and response by raising over $80 million. It also supports transnational research networks attempting to produce vaccines. It has implemented the Solidarity Trial, in which scientific institutions have joined together in an effort to rapidly test four different sets of drugs for their potential to treat the disease. 

The World Bank has mobilized more than US$14 billion for the response both to help countries navigate the economic consequences of the crisis, but also to help them finance increased capacity in their public health sectors. In addition to this the IMF has secured 1 trillion in lending capacity, serving our members and responding fast to a historically high number of emergency financing requests- from over 90 countries so far. 

Earlier this year, the UN General Assembly unanimously approved a resolution recognizing “the unparalleled effects of the coronavirus pandemic” and calling for intensified international cooperation to contain, mitigate and defeat the disease. However, the UN faces political tensions from its most powerful members, China and the United States. Whilst China pushes the Security Council to return to its focus on traditional security threats, the US insists that any resolution should mention the origin of the virus. These contradictory views have reduced the effectiveness of the United Nations' response to the health crisis. However, the U.N has managed to launch a $2 billion global humanitarian response plan, collaborating with UNICEF and WHO, to assist developing and vulnerable nations across the world. 

This was a light checkpoint to outline some of the contributions of world organisations during the COVID pandemic. The syllabus links section for this article will canvas where each organisation sits in the scope of the syllabus whilst also outlining some succinct study points surrounding their primary roles. 

Syllabus Links

Trade Flows 

World Trade Organisation 

  • Implement and advance global trade agreements and to resolve trade disputes between economies 
  • Formed in 1995 and is the first international organisation with powers to enforce trade agreements across the world 
  • 164 member countries

Financial Flows 

International Monetary Fund

  • Role is to maintain international financial stability
  • One of the most important institutions 
  • Facilitate multilateral payments system between member countries
  • Created a system of stable and fixed exchange rates based on the pegging of US dollar
  • Remove foreign exchange restrictions to facilitate growth in world trade and investment
  • Provided financial assistance to countries experiencing temporary BOP difficulties e.g. Thailand during 1997 Asian Currency Crisis

World Bank 

  • Assist poorer countries with economic development 
  • Influence design of macroeconomic and microeconomic policies to create conditions conducive to foreign investment and development. 
  • Funded my member nations and from its borrowings in global financial markets 
  • Focuses on investment in infrastructure, reduction in poverty and to help countries adjust their economies to demands of globalisation 
  • Aims to achieve universal primary education, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health and treatment of serious health epidemics like HIV/AIDS

United Nations

  • A global organisations that covers 193 member states that aims to promote peace and global economic cooperation 
  • Its agenda covers the global economy, international security, the environment, poverty and development, international law and global health issues. Similar to IMF/World Bank 
  • Has agencies that develops international standards that makes it easier for trade and investment flows between nations 
  • Current goals: Sustainable Development goals (No poverty, zero hunger, quality education, gender equality) 

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Reference List