International Cooperation
The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the need for a different approach to reorganizing global governance in innovative and unexpected ways. The Global Public Investment (GPI) system is one of them. GPI is a fixed and multidirectional way to address the administration of international fiscal resources. The initiative follows three rules: “All contribute,” “All decide” and “All benefit.” The way GPI might revolutionize international cooperation is through the funding of global public goods and services such as vaccines and social security.

The Background

The proposal started to gain significant recognition as a consequence and response to the devastation that the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic brought upon the world in early 2020. The outbreak has reminded the world’s nations how susceptible they all are on an economic, social and biological level, emphasizing the need for global cooperation. Furthermore, as a reliable example, Europe demonstrated the potential for collaboration over common funds in the future, “through its regional development fund.”

In the lead-up to this moment, GPI’s most significant political push came from leaders in the Global South, outraged by the economic and social inequalities that the pandemic further emphasized.

Latin American countries were among the first to officially consider the implementation of GPI. Then, Africa followed and invited powers in the Western and Eastern world to work together more efficiently to solve challenges impacting the globe.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated that COVID-19 led to the loss of $28 trillion in output and $17 trillion in response to the pandemic. Additionally, COVID-19 highlighted global disparities such as the underfunding of some health systems around the world.

An early 2022 press release from the U.N. Secretary-General said: “As we enter a new decade, we are finally bringing international public finance into the 21st century. No more “us and them”. Now it’s just “us.””

How GPI Works

The way GPI might revolutionize international cooperation has roots in its inner mechanism. The new system includes three pillars:

1. Universal Contributions: Instead of how donor countries give money to recipient ones, GPI is an “all-contributor approach to international public finance.”

2. Ongoing Commitments: GPI defies the assumption that countries are expected to “graduate after achieving a relatively low level of per capita income,” favoring a longer-term approach.

3. Representative Control: GPI asks for a more “democratic and accountable approach” to governing international public finance. All participating governments would determine the priorities of GPI.

The Global Public Investment would include percentages of participants’ gross national income by their capability. The same countries would consequently receive funds according to their need, including wealthier countries. As a result of the GPI, all countries would have equal shares in a common fund, promoting the development of a fiscal-cooperation among them.

Looking Ahead

The way GPI might revolutionize international cooperation depends on many factors, and one of them is the efficient and thorough application of this innovative system as well as the support of all nations.

International aid is still valid for solving many of the world’s economic inequalities. Combined with GPI, the new system would allow the world to go a step further in its fight against global poverty.

– Caterina Rossi
Photo: Flickr

International Partnerships Reduce Indo-Pacific PiracyPiracy is often thought to be a practice of the past, if not romanticized in fictional portrayals. Today, pirates are still prevalent. In 2020, piracy increased by 20% worldwide and doubled in the Indo-Pacific region. The U.N. reports this unprecedented threat in the Gulf of Guinea affecting regional stability and global peace. In response, major powers, including India, China and the U.S., are working together to see international partnerships reduce Indo-Pacific piracy.

Past Collaborations

In 2008, after piracy surged, Shared Awareness and Deconfliction (SHADE) — an anti-piracy operation — was formed to coordinate missions among China, America, Japan and India. This alliance aimed to prevent piracy and poverty in pirate-prevalent nations. Then, in September 2009, the U.S. and China ramped up their collaboration. In total, the Chinese Navy, with U.S. assistance, “rescued … 43 ships in 32 missions.”

The Gulf of Aden, however, is perhaps the greatest cooperative victory. Much of the world’s oil and food exports are transported through the gulf, making the Gulf of Aden a crucial economic pipeline. In 2010, a U.N. Contact Group approved the U.S. and China’s plans for mitigating piracy in the Gulf, supported by India.

Anti-piracy initiatives with this level of cooperation are much more effective than a single nation’s efforts. No country can handle the vast ocean alone. As a naval expert said, “ To catch a pirate, cooperation is key.” Cooperating to end piracy may also save the world up to $12 billion a year and help decrease global poverty, according to a non-profit’s 2010 report.

Recent Initiatives

China partnered with the U.S. Coast Guard to clamp down on piracy and prevent primarily low-income countries in the Indo-Pacific from experiencing pirate-inflicted economic damage. Meanwhile, Japan joined U.S. and U.K. naval vessels in 2021 anti-piracy drills, providing another guard against pirates.

More broadly, the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, an alliance consisting of the U.S., Australia, India and Japan, recently planned several joint defense operations for mitigating Indo-Pacific piracy. In 2021, the alliance set a precedent where all four countries participated for the second consecutive year in over a decade.

American Funding

Piracy often begins in poverty and goes on to cause poverty, creating a loop. Put simply: poverty motivates potential pirates to steal. Rather than more minor acts of thievery, this often spirals into massive maritime violations. In the past decade, Congress considered funding vulnerable countries as a method of piracy prevention. Thus, in the past year, the U.S. provided $253 million for financial development in Somalia.

Furthermore, Congress passed the Indo-Pacific Maritime Security Initiative, which would gradually dispense $425 million toward piracy prevention. By economically supporting the Indo-Pacific region, overall poverty decreases and residents are less likely to resort to piracy. Piracy and its adverse effects can diminish by continuing to facilitate anti-poverty programs in the Indo-Pacific and other vulnerable regions. Major world powers have shown that cooperation works. Their international partnerships reduce Indo-Pacific piracy and help ease global poverty.

– Ashwin Telang
Photo: Flickr

COVAX InitiativeThe COVID-19 pandemic arrived on the world scene at an inopportune time in terms of international relations, given the current state of global division and isolationist nationalism. Cooperation between nations is extremely important in containing a pandemic. However, this sentiment was sparse during the early stages of the virus’ spread due to the prevailing geopolitical climate. Now that COVID has expanded across the world and endangered millions, international cooperation is perhaps more important than ever in the urgent search for a vaccine. The World Health Organization, GAVI and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) have united to form the COVAX Initiative: a program providing promise for both global teamwork and COVID mitigation.

What is the COVAX Initiative?

According to the WHO, COVAX is a coalition designed to “…accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world.” The goal of the COVAX Initiative is twofold: to facilitate the creation of a vaccine and to ensure any eventual vaccine is made available to as many people as possible, regardless of national identity or socioeconomic status.

While many wealthy countries may succeed in vaccinating their populations without assistance from COVAX, all nations would still benefit from the Initiative: recent events have proven that in order to guarantee true safety from COVID-19, the disease must be eradicated worldwide. Thus, it is in everyone’s interest to provide access to as many people as possible. COVAX is working to create a coalition of member nations, both wealthy and poor, to achieve this mission.

Current Member Countries

A total of 172 countries have joined the COVAX Initiative so far. 80 wealthy countries have made commitments to the Initiative, including the UK, Norway and Japan. Additionally, 92 lower-income countries including Afghanistan, the Philippines and Yemen have become involved. According to the Director-General of the WHO Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, COVID presents a challenge that necessitates an unprecedented level of international cooperation.

Life-Saving Potential

COVAX aims to deliver two billion vaccine doses by the end of 2021. Currently, the COVAX Initiative has nine vaccines under development and is evaluating nine more. According to the WHO, these innovations imply that the Initiative has “…the largest and most diverse COVID-19 vaccine portfolio in the world.”

Healthcare workers will recieve the first round of vaccinations; higher-risk patients will receive the second round. Member nations will recieve doses in amounts proportional to their population. To ensure widespread delivery of the vaccine, the Initiative plans to help fund infrastructure development as necessary in poorer member countries.

The COVAX Initiative is built on the idea that, for anyone to be safe from COVID-19, everyone must be safe. The Initiative represents a positive step towards international cooperation, a crucial aspect of effectively eradicating this destructive and deadly pandemic. Once a functional vaccine is in circulation, the world’s poor will likely have the least access. This structural inequity means that projects like COVAX could save countless lives and prevent future resurgences of COVID.

– Dylan Weir
Photo: Wikimedia

African Union
Intergovernmental cooperation provides a multi-faceted approach for tackling regional and global issues. African multilateral institutions allow governments to work together on developing, unifying and improving livelihoods throughout the continent.

There are a variety of roles that these institutions can play: from increasing trade, improving infrastructure, peacekeeping, promoting good governance, developing technology, providing health and education. Intergovernmental cooperation can also serve a cultural role.

The challenges that Africa is facing at the moment are unique to the culture and political history of the continent.  African multilateral institutions can provide more endogenous solutions – ones that arise from within Africa by Africans.

The African Union (AU) is perhaps the biggest and most ambitious multilateral institutions in Africa. Founded in 2002 out of the previous Organization for African Unity, the AU aims to politically and socio-economically integrate Africa. The AU also promotes peace and stability and norms of good governance. Within the AU, The pan-African Parliament functions as a forum that allows delegates from each country to present key issues and bring back advice for heads of state.

There are several subdivisions and committees the AU oversees that focus on reducing poverty and sustainable development. For example, the New Economic Partnerships for African Development (NEPAD) uses funding from Western nations to improve economic and government institutions.

The African Union is also instrumental in promoting democratic processes. They utilize a unique volunteer Peer Review Mechanism, in which states that choose to participate agree to have their political processes evaluated by experts. The AU also send observers to cover all elections in African countries.

With the creation of the Peace and Security Council in 2004, the AU plays an increasingly important role in African security. Contrary to its predecessor, the African Union is able to intervene during conflicts. This can occur through authorizing peacekeeping missions or in cases of genocide and crimes against humanity through deploying military forces.

The AU intervention after the civil war in Sudan broke out was one the most rapid and influential responses from the international community and helped create peace through a self-determination referendum after South Sudan seceded. In Kenya and Côte d’Ivoire, the AU successfully resolved post-election violence. In Somalia, the sizeable AU peacekeeping mission used a comprehensive strategy to decrease the effects of the terrorist group Al-Shabaab and stabilize the country.

As the largest economic organization on the continent, the African Economic Community is another influential African multilateral institution. It consists of all African countries that have formed eight smaller blocs based on geographical proximity: Economic Community of West African States, East African Community, Economic Community of Central African States, Southern African Development Community, Intergovernmental Authority on Development, Community of Sahel-Saharan States, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, and Arab Maghreb Union.

These regional organizations help integrate Africa’s economy and facilitate trade. The East African Community, for example, is the most integrated of these trade blocs, with free trade and plans for a common currency. The Economic Community of West African States does not only serve as a trade bloc but also engages in peacekeeping activities and has a formal judicial arm that aims to prevent human rights violations.

Together, these African multilateral institutions tackle the difficult challenges in development that the continent faces, from various angles and with multiple approaches.

– Liesl Hostetter
Photo: Flickr

Sustainable Development

From Sept. 4 to 5, heads of state and government from nineteen countries and the European Union will gather in Hangzhou, China for the 11th G20 summit. The theme of this year’s conference is “Towards an Innovative, Invigorated, Interconnected and Inclusive World Economy”, a motto which many officials and experts find encouraging.

In an interview with the Xinhua News Agency, China’s state-owned media outlet, Atsushi Sunami, the vice president of the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) in Tokyo, explained that the G20 summit could forge consensus on implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Adopted by the U.N. last fall, the 2030 Agenda includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and aims to end poverty and hunger by the end of the third decade in the 21st century.

Sunami also called on countries to work together and build innovation across borders. The conference in Hangzhou, in his view, could jump-start the dialogue on open innovation and inclusive development.

Also speaking with Xinhua, Peter Thompson, who will be the president of the upcoming 71st Session of the U.N. General Assembly, voiced his support for the summit’s theme as well as the U.N.’s desire to work with the G20 organizers. “We will certainly be doing our part here at the United Nations in terms of the G20 outcome to make sure it’s built into the international implementation plans,” he said.

Likewise, Daniel Funes de Rioja, President of the International Organization of Employers (IOE), expressed his hope that the G20 summit will be a step in the direction of inclusive development. “Prosperity requires growth, investment, technology and innovation, with employment and social coverage for all,” according to de Rioja.

Indeed, while the G20 is primarily a forum for leaders of the developed world, developing countries are also starting to make their voices heard.

Senegal, which will be present at the summit in Hangzhou, sees the G20 as a platform to call attention to African issues as well as an opportunity to explore solutions. Alioune Sarr, the country’s commerce minister, told China Central Television (CCTV) that the conference will highlight the necessity of poverty eradication and inclusive development on the continent.

The G20 has consistently underscored the importance of international cooperation when it comes to solving the world’s problems, and the renewed emphasis on inclusive development and shared prosperity is certainly a welcome change.

Philip Katz

Photo: Flickr

According to a study conducted by Bertelsmann Stiftung, a German foundation that researches and advocates social responsibility, the United States is ranked among the countries least likely to complete the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs aimed at ending poverty and combating climate change by 2030.

The Sustainable Development Goals are a set of 17 goals that were conceived at the 2012 U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says the goals will replace the Millennium Development Goals in January 2016 and are based on six elements: dignity, people, prosperity, our planet, justice and partnership.

“The MDGs were about resource transfer from rich countries. The SDGs are universal—they’re supposed to apply to all countries and try to overcome the ‘West lecturing the rest’ dynamic,” said Sarah Hearn, associate director and senior fellow at New York University’s Center on International Cooperation.

While the U.S. struggles to meet SDGs, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland have the best chances of completing the goals. The countries with the lowest rankings are the U.S., Greece, Chile, Hungary, Turkey and Mexico.

Even though the U.S. has a high GDP, clean air and abundant housing, the country struggles with income inequality, over-consumption and environmental protection.

“We in the rich nations, with our growing social inequality and wasteful use of resources, can no longer present ourselves as the world’s teachers,” said Aart de Geus, Bertelsmann Stiftung chairman. “Rather, the analysis shows us where we, too, have to do our homework.”

During his visit to the U.S., Pope Francis addressed Congress and the U.N. Council, discussing the urgency of eradicating world poverty and climate change and how a solution cannot wait for future generations.

President Barack Obama, whose plans for a climate change bill were denied by Congress early in his presidency, agrees with the pope and his efforts to make the U.S. more involved.

“Holy Father, you remind us that we have a sacred obligation to protect our planet — God’s magnificent gift to us. We support your call to all world leaders to support the communities most vulnerable to a changing climate and to come together to preserve our precious world for future generations,” said President Obama.

Alexandra Korman

Sources: ABC News, Council on Foreign Relations, Huffington Post, The Daily Star
Photo: Turner

The struggle to access clean water in many developing nations is no secret.  Every year, between six to eight million people perish due to water-borne diseases or lack of water.  Another cause of concern lies in the fact that over two thirds of the global population lives on the driest half of earth.  Experts estimate that 2.5 billion people lack proper water sanitation, and another 783 million completely struggle to locate access to any source of water.

In response to these alarming facts, the United Nations has declared 2013 the UN International Year of Water Cooperation to bring a revitalized focus and attention to these water issues.  The purpose of using water as the year’s theme is to ignite change in this crisis.  The plan is to draw more attention to successful water projects that have worked in various areas in an attempt to spark innovation and spread ideas in areas needing water development.  Other initiatives in the Year of Water Cooperation include increasing water education, working with regional leaders to develop relationships focused on addressing issues, settling border disputes involving water, and fundraising and developing necessary legal limits.

The UN chose the name International Year of Water Cooperation to highlight the necessity of forming regional bonds and of leaders working together to address the problems.  The theme is meant to inspire countries to share and work as a team to save millions of lives.  Since there are many different cultural, political and social factors at play in this global issue, cooperation remains the key to moving forward.

This initiative was started back in December 2010, among a United Nations General Assembly delegation.  The idea began by thinking of water as a chain: connected by various water basins, rivers and groundwater flow all around the world.  One objective of the year is to increase collaboration over sharing these resources to reach a maximum number of people, effectively creating a chain reaction.

If the water initiative goes successfully, not only will millions of lives be saved from simple prevention of disease, diarrhea and dehydration, but conflicts over water and ethnic fighting will simultaneously decrease.  The UN chose a strikingly important issue to focus on during 2013, with the potential to make an impact on the lives of billions of people around the planet.

Allison Meade

Sources: UN News Centre, UN Water, United Nations


The Minister of Development and International Co-operation (UAE), Lubna Al Qasimi, met with the Chief Minister of Island of Jersey, Senator Ian Gorst yesterday. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss international developmental and humanitarian actions and to boost cooperation between the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. According to Shaikha Lubna, the UAE is trying to “align their points of view, in order to enhance the development and humanitarian efforts globally in the underprivileged countries.”

The contributions made by the UAE has allowed it to advance its rank globally in its achievement of developmental and humanitarian aid; thus, the UAE’s acquirement of the 16th rank pushes donors to raise their efforts in supporting developing countries. Senator Ian Gorst examined the “potential cooperation opportunities with UAE” and highlighted the projects and the mechanisms as to how these international development programs will be handled. The Senator went on to commend the UAE’s expertise in international development and the humanitarian standpoint. He applauded the successful efforts of the UAE in delivering aid and assistance to “affected people of man-made crises, such as in wars, food deficiencies, drought, poverty, in accordance with the directions and estimations of the international institutions.”

– Leen Abdallah
Source: Khaleej Times
Photo: UAE Interact