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Global governance reform needed in post-pandemic era

LIN YUEQIN and ZHAO YUAN | 2021-02-25
(Chinese Social Sciences Today)

To address global governance challenges in a post-pandemic era, more trust should be placed in international organizations such as WTO. Photo: CFP

The COVID-19 pandemic poses challenges to economic globalization and multilateral governance, as it significantly impacts the global economy, trade, and investment activities. More effort is needed to overcome existing multilateral governance challenges, stimulate new momentum in global governance, and for China and other emerging markets to facilitate reforms in global governance.
Public health crises such as the pandemic have adversely affected social, economic, and political systems, said Alicia García-Herrero, a senior fellow with European think-tank Bruegel. At present, the international community lacks effective cooperation in the fight against the virus, with prominent conflicts of interest between countries and cut-throat competition, which reflects the limitations of traditional geopolitical views in multilateral governance.
According to Chen Weiguang, a research fellow from the Guangdong Institute for International Strategies at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, the pandemic has triggered, or increased, major countries' strategic security considerations and corporate considerations for business environment risks, weakening industrial linkages between major countries. Economic globalization, driven by multinationals' market selection behaviors, is increasingly restricted by state acts. National strategic competition, institutional competition, and clashing values will be a significant part of "re-globalization." In the face of common crises, the games among major countries have intensified, and international organizations efforts have not "awakened" appropriate global governance consensus and actions. 
The pandemic has brought new challenges to the international community, becoming a new topic in the study of international relations, said Patrick Schröder, a senior research fellow in the energy, environment, and resources department at the Chatham House in the UK. In global governance reforms, there should be a focus on stabilizing human-environment interactions, and on developing practical ways to efficiently share resources on a crowded planet actively transformed by human actions. Navigating this complexity cannot be accomplished by focusing on narrow national interests. Collaboration is required to identify common strategic vulnerabilities and to counter destabilizing developments which threaten human survival.
According to Danilo Türk, former president of Slovenia, a good and agreed upon agenda is necessary, not only in terms of policies, but also in terms of research. For example, trade-related issues should be high on this agenda, and research on trade-related investment issues and intellectual property issues, and a stronger role for WTO should also be included. 
Dennis Snower, founder and president of the Global Solutions Initiative, said that the initiative has been created to facilitate the collaboration of all stakeholders with regard to major global challenges facing the G20. In particular, close attention is paid to digital governance systems and the measurement of economic and business performance.
At a time when the world is facing diverse challenges and existential risks, we need to think more carefully about what the real threats to humanity are and what measures should be taken to deal with them. It is advisable to consider our environment’s ultimate carrying capacity and feedback loops between human-nature interactions, Schröder continued.
Rolf Langhammer, a professor from the Kiel Institute for the World Economy in Germany, noted that the path to global governance is mainly restricted by bilateral or multilateral mechanisms, while global mechanisms are still weak. Global economic and political issues call for global governance, which requires stakeholders to fully trust international multilateral governance institutions. Global governance cannot succeed if impaired by mistrust and systemic cut-throat competition.
The level and quality of international cooperation does not meet the tasks at hand. Weakness, and in the case of some of the major players, lack of political will, is the main reason for this failure. The G20, which was prominent in the 2008 financial crisis, should today act as a global "crisis manager" and should energize the work of organizations such as the IMF, Türk said.
 Schröder added that the world's three major economies, China, the EU, and the US, should work together to support rule-based multilateralism and promote sustainable development, jointly addressing centenary challenges.
Under a global pattern impacted by the pandemic, China needs to further deepen its reform, utilize its own advantages, strengthen independent innovation, and accelerate the construction of a new development pattern that smooths domestic circulation and lets domestic and international circulations reinforce each other, suggested Chen Jianqi, a professor from the Institute for International Strategy at the Party School of the Central Committee of CPC. 
This requires more attention from all nations across the globe, in an effort to motivate global governance system reforms in a post-pandemic era. As the global spread of the pandemic has profoundly revealed—viruses know no borders, so countries should safeguard the common interests of mankind and work together on climate change and health, Chen Jianqi concluded.