September 18, 2020

Pâle réconciliation ? Les enjeux des prochaines élections présidentielles en Côte d’Ivoire

Cote dIvore

(Photo by Eva Blue on Unsplash)

Êcrit par Adou Djané Dit Fatogoma, Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques and Institut National de Santé Publique and Briony Jones, University of Warwick and WICID

(Lire l'article en anglais)

Le 24 août 2020, le Président Alassane Ouattara de Côte d'Ivoire a été autorisé par la Commission électorale indépendante (CEI) à se présenter aux élections pour un troisième mandat en octobre 2020. Ouattara avait précédemment déclaré qu'il ne se présenterait pas, et avait désigné le Premier ministre Amadou Gon Coulibaly pour lui succéder comme candidat de son parti, un allié politique dont il ne tarirait pas d’éloges en le décrivant de la manière suivante : « Sa loyauté n'a jamais faibli. Amadou est plus qu'un collègue, plus qu'un frère; c'est un fils » (Africa Confidential 19th March 2020). Lorsqu’Amadou Gon Coulibaly meurt subitement en juillet 2020, Ouattara n'avait pas de « plan b » (Le Monde 8thJuly 2020); il annonce alors qu'il se présenterait aux élections à l’occasion de son discours à la nation du 6 août 2020 à l’occasion du soixantième anniversaire de l’indépendance du pays. Cette déclaration a suscité des troubles dans le pays qui ont fait 2 morts (Africa Confidential 27thAugust 2020).

Pendant que le président Ouattara obtenait l'autorisation de se représenter, la CEI se basant sur des condamnations de la justice ivoirienne, radie de la liste électorale l'ancien président Laurent Gbagbo, et à l'ancien président du Parlement Guillaume Soro. Ils ne peuvent ainsi ni voter encore moins de se présenter aux élections (Africa Confidential 19th March 2020). On se retrouve ainsi dans un cercle vicieux de politique et de violence qui se poursuit. Ouattara avait lui-même été interdit de se présenter aux élections présidentielles jusqu'aux élections de 2010 qui ont occasionné une crise post-électorale ayant fait plus de 3000 morts. Dans ce blog, nous engageons la réflexion sur ce que cela signifie pour la réconciliation en Côte d’Ivoire et à la manière dont un dialogue politique ouvert et inclusif est plus important que jamais.

Dans la foulée de sa victoire contestée, Ouattara a mis en œuvre un processus de justice transitionnelle marquée par des procès de ses opposants devant des tribunaux nationaux, une commission nationale d'enquête et une commission vérité, dialogue et réconciliation de même qu’au niveau de la cour pénale internationale (CPI). Il ne semble ne pas être impressionné par les accusations de justice des vainqueurs et a plutôt promis une réconciliation nationale fondée sur la prospérité économique et la cohésion sociale. En 2015, il a clairement exprimé sa compréhension de la réconciliation dans un discours public :

« Être réconcilié, c'est d'abord pour moi, avoir un pays pacifique, où les gens vivent en harmonie avec les mêmes égalités des chances et je peux vous dire que c'est le cas. Il n'y a pas de zones réservées à aucun groupe ethnique. Dans tous les quartiers d'Abidjan, tous les groupes ethniques sont réunis. Pouvons-nous mieux concilier que cela? Si vous allez à Korhogo, Gagnoa, etc., vous trouverez des gens de toutes les ethnies. Fondamentalement, il ne doit pas induire en erreur la notion de réconciliation nationale en la reliant à une personne ou à un événement. […] La crise post-électorale était très grave. Plus de 3 000 personnes ont été tuées. Il est nécessaire que les personnes impliquées soient jugées ici ou ailleurs. D'ailleurs, si nous ne le faisons pas, les tribunaux internationaux le feront un jour. Tout le monde sera jugé ici. […] Il y a un élément clé dans ce que j'ai lu sur la réconciliation. C'est le bien-être de la population. C'est ce que nous faisons : un taux de croissance de 8 à 9%, réduire la pauvreté, construire des écoles, assainir l'environnement, etc. Une fois que nous aurons terminé tout cela, les tensions vont baisser » (President Ouattara’s speech, Fraternité matin, vendredi 26 juin 2015. N° 15164 p 6 et 7).

Les controverses autour des élections à venir en octobre de cette année démontrent les dangers du court-termisme lorsqu'il s'agit de faire face au passé, ainsi que les risques d'une démocratie à « case à cocher » sans débat substantiel et sans transparence pour jeter les bases d’une prospérité économique durable selon la version de la réconciliation de Ouattara. Il n'est pas clair que son approche puisse aborder et prendre en compte les questions d'exclusion d'individus de la course à la présidentielle, de la crise profonde de la légitimité démocratique ou des cycles continus de violence. L'histoire du système politique ivoirien est faite d’exclusion : soit l'exclusion de l'opposition par le régime au pouvoir, soit l'auto-exclusion par des partis d’oppositions qui refusent de participer à ce qu’ils estiment être une mascarade. Depuis l'introduction de la politique multipartite dans les années 1990, cette dynamique a continué à façonner le paysage politique et continue de façonner le débat sur la réconciliation aujourd'hui.

Nous pouvons le voir dans la reconfiguration de l’espace politique et des batailles en vue des élections d’octobre. L'ancienne alliance politique qui dirigeait le pays de la crise post-électorale jusqu'en 2019 est éclatée désormais, et les dirigeants des partis politiques autrefois favorables sont désormais des opposants à Alassane Ouattara. Le principal reproche qui lui est fait est de ne pas parvenir à la réconciliation pour tous les Ivoiriens, y compris ceux qui sont toujours en exil et ceux qui se trouvent dans les prisons nationales. Le 31 août, l'archevêque d'Abidjan, le cardinal Jean-Pierre Kutwa, a organisé un point de presse au cours duquel il a évoqué la situation sociopolitique en Côte d'Ivoire et a déclaré qu'à son avis « la candidature d'Alassane Ouattara pour un troisième mandat n'est pas nécessaire… la réconciliation est plus importante que les élections… ». Cela a provoqué une levée de boucliers entre soutien et d'opposition, démontrant à quel point la voie de la réconciliation est extrêmement source de division.

Cote Divore reconciliation

(Photo by Adou Djané)

Le chef de l'ancienne rébellion, Guillaume Soro, est désormais condamné à une peine de prison par contumace et nombre de ses partisans, dont des parlementaires, sont également en prison. Le Parti démocratique de Côte d'Ivoire - Rassemblement démocratique africain (PDCI-RDA) et le Front populaire ivoirien (FPI) de l'ancien président Laurent Gbagbo ont signé un document cadre de collaboration sur le `` Projet de réconciliation des Ivoiriens pour une paix durable '' le 30 avril 2020, au siège du PDCI-RDA à Cocody. Les objectifs de la nouvelle `` alliance '' sont de trouver le pardon dans la vérité et la justice, d'éliminer les séquelles de crises successives, de trouver des solutions originales aux problèmes qui sont à la base de ces crises, et de construire ensemble une `` nouvelle Côte d'Ivoire '' sur la base de principes, règles et valeurs partagés par tous les Ivoiriens et tous les étrangers résidant en Côte d'Ivoire. Mabri Toikeuse, leader de l'Union pour la démocratie et la paix (UDPCI) et dernier à quitter l'alliance au pouvoir, a annoncé sa candidature et a lancé une nouvelle plateforme électorale avec d'autres partis: «Nous venons d'achever la première série de signatures pour lancer cette plateforme électorale. C'est aussi une plate-forme pour la paix. Je voudrais remercier toutes les parties qui nous font confiance en nous rejoignant dans notre combat pour la paix».

Le lundi 14 septembre 2020, le Conseil constitutionnel a annoncé sa décision de retenir 4 candidats sur les 44 postulants aux élections présidentielles. Cette décision du Conseil constitutionnel a donné à l’ex-président Henri Konan Bédié l'occasion de se présenter comme le candidat qui se bat contre l'exclusion politique : « J’ai pris acte de la validation de ma candidature par le Conseil constitutionnel. Cependant, je dénonce la validation de la candidature inconstitutionnelle de M. Alassane OUATTARA et l'exclusion arbitraire et antidémocratique de grands dirigeants politiques, notamment Laurent GBAGBO, Guillaume SORO, Mabri TOIKEUSSE, Mamadou KOULIBALY et Marcel Amon TANOH. Il faut rester en ordre de marche pour une alternance démocratique en vue de construire une Côte d'Ivoire réconciliée, solidaire et prospère ». Dans le contexte de la politique ivoirienne, cela a une certaine ironie car c'est Bédié lui-même qui a été associé à l'introduction du concept d'ivoirité visant à exclure Ouattara de la course présidentielle entre 1994 et 1999 sur la base des allégations de sa lignée burkinabé.

Quand on observe ce qui se passe actuellement autour des prochaines élections, on est donc exactement dans la même situation qu'en 1995, 1999, 2000, 2010 où l'on a vu des violences politiques. La réconciliation promise par Ouattara ne s'est pas concrétisée, non pas parce qu'elle est la faute d'un individu ou d'un parti politique en particulier, mais parce qu'il est long de se réconcilier avec une longue histoire de violence politique, d'exclusion politique et d'inégalité entre les groupes ethniques, une tâche de long terme qui n'est ni prévisible ni linéaire. Les recherches menées par Interpeace et Indigo Côte d’Ivoire identifient un certain nombre de défis à la cohésion sociale, notamment les inégalités en matière de propriété foncière, le manque d'opportunités économiques pour les jeunes et la réduction de l'engagement civique. La capture de l'espace politique, auparavant par Félix Houphouët-Boigny, qui a régné de l'indépendance en 1960 à 1993, puis par des tentatives successives d'exclure des individus des courses présidentielles, a sévèrement restreint l'espace pour un dialogue public sûr sur les défis et les réalités de réconciliation. La réconciliation peut avoir une connotation différente selon les personnes et les groupes. Il ne s’agit pas d’un problème propre à la Côte d’Ivoire, mais d’une tension inhérente aux appels à la réconciliation partout où nous les entendons. Dans quelle mesure différents points de vue peuvent-ils être intégrés dans un projet national de réconciliation? Car si la réconciliation doit aboutir au type de cohésion sociale que les Ivoiriens ont promis depuis des générations, elle doit être fondée sur le dialogue, la reconnaissance des autres et pouvoir accueillir des expériences et des points de vue variés. Si la réconciliation elle-même disparaît de la vue pendant que les politiques se disputent, ce seront les Ivoiriens qui continueront à en subir les effets.

Lire l'article en anglais


Wither Reconciliation? The Factors at Play in the Upcoming Ivoirian Elections

eva-blue-npdn3gozgrs-unsplash-2.jpg

Photo by Eva Blue on Unsplash)

Written by Adou Djané Dit Fatogoma, Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques and Institut National de Santé Publique and Briony Jones, University of Warwick and WICID

(You can read this post in French)

On the 24thAugust 2020, President Alassane Ouattara of Côte d’Ivoire was granted leave by the Commission éléctorale indépendante(CEI) to stand for election for a third term in October 2020. Ouattara had previously said he would not stand, instead anointing Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly to succeed him as his party’s candidate, a political ally he described in the following way: “His loyalty has never faltered. Amadou is more than a colleague, more than a brother; he is a son” (Africa Confidential 19th March 2020). When Coulibaly died in July 2020, Ouattara did not have a ‘plan b’ (Le Monde 8thJuly 2020) and announced that he would stand for election to the sounds of unrest in the country which left 2 dead (Africa Confidential 27thAugust 2020). At the same time as he was granted permission to do so, the CEI also banned the former President, Laurent Gbagbo, and former Parliamentary Speaker, Guillaume Soro, from voting, let alone standing in the election (Africa Confidential 19th March 2020). A vicious circle of politics and violence continues – Ouattara had himself been banned from standing in Presidential elections until the 2010 elections and post-election unrest which left more than 3,000 dead. In this blog we reflect on what this means for reconciliation in Côte d’Ivoire, and how an open and inclusive political dialogue is more important than ever.

Hot on the heels of his contested victory, Ouattara implemented an internationally sanctioned transitional justice process with trials of his opponents in domestic courts, a National Commission of Enquiry, and a Truth, Dialogue and Reconciliation Commission. He did not let accusations of victor’s justice stand in the way and instead promised national reconciliation founded on economic prosperity and social cohesion. In 2015, he made clear his understanding of reconciliation in a public speech:

“Being reconciled is first for me, to have a peaceful country, where people live in harmony with the same equalities of opportunities and I can tell you that this is the case. There are no areas reserved for any ethnic group. In all districts of Abidjan, all ethnic groups are together. Can we better reconcile that? If you go to Korhogo, Gagnoa, etc., you will find people of all ethnic groups. Basically, it should not mislead the notion of national reconciliation as to link it to a person or an event. […] The post-election crisis was very serious. More than 3,000 people were killed. It is necessary that those involved be tried here or elsewhere. Besides, if we do not, international courts will do it one day. Everyone will be judged here. […] There is a key element in what I have read about reconciliation. This is the well-being of the population. This is what we are doing: a growth rate of 8 to 9%, reducing poverty, building schools, cleaning up the environment, etc. Once we will finish all this, tensions will drop” (President Ouattara’s speech, Fraternité matin, vendredi 26 juin 2015. N° 15164 p 6 et 7)

The controversies surrounding this year’s upcoming elections demonstrate the dangers of short-termism when it comes to dealing with the past, as well as the risks of a ‘tick box’ democracy without substantial debate and transparency to provide a foundation for the kinds of economic prosperity vital to Ouattara’s version of reconciliation. It is not clear that his approach can speak to a history of excluding individuals from presidential races, to the deep crisis of democratic legitimacy or the continuing cycles of violence. The history of the Ivorian political system has been one of exclusion: either exclusion of the opposition by the regime in power, or self-exclusion by opposing powers who refuse to participate. Since the introduction of multi-party politics in the 1990s, this dynamic has continued to shape the political landscape and continues to shape the debate about reconciliation today. We can see this in the political jostling and re-shaping of the party-political space in the lead up to this October’s elections. The former political alliance which ruled the country from the post-election crisis until 2019 is now scattered, and the leaders of the formerly supportive political parties are now opponents of Alassane Ouattara. The main reproach against him is the failure to achieve reconciliation for all Ivorians, including those still in exile and those in domestic prisons. On 31st August, the Archbishop of Abidjan, Cardinal Jean-Pierre Kutwa, organised a press briefing during which he spoke about the socio-political situation in Côte d'Ivoire and declared that in his opinion the candidacy of Alassane Ouattara for a third term "is not necessary… reconciliation is more important than elections…”. This prompted immediate outcries of both support and opposition, demonstrating how the path to reconciliation is potentially extremely divisive.

Cote Divore reconciliation

(Photo by Adou Djané)

The leader of the former rebellion, Guillaume Soro, is now under a prison sentence in absentia and many of his supporters, including members of parliament, are also in prison. The Democratic Party of Côte d'Ivoire - African Democratic Rally (PDCI-RDA) and the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) of the former President Laurent Gbagbo have signed a framework document for collaboration on the ‘Reconciliation Project of Ivoirians for a Lasting Peace’ on the 30thApril 2020, at the PDCI-RDA headquarters in Cocody. The objectives of the new ‘alliance’ are to find forgiveness in truth and justice, to eliminate the after-effects of successive crises, to find original solutions to the problems which are the basis of these crises, and to build together a ‘new Côte d’Ivoire’ based on principles, rules and values ​​shared by all Ivorians and all foreigners residing in Côte d’Ivoire. Mabri Toikeuse, leader of the Union for Democracy and Peace (UDPCI) and the last to leave the alliance in power, has announced his candidature and has launched a new electoral platform in collaboration with a series of other parties: “We have just completed the first series of signatures to launch this electoral platform. It is also a platform for peace. I would like to say thank you to all those parties who trust us by joining us in our fight for peace”.

On Monday, 14th September 2020, the constitutional council announced its decision to retain 4 candidates out of the 44 applicants to stand in Presidential elections. This decision of the constitutional council gave Bédié the opportunity to present himself as the candidate standing up against political exclusion: “I have taken note of the validation of my candidacy by the Constitutional Council. However, I denounce the validation of the unconstitutional candidacy of Mr. Alassane OUATTARA and the arbitrary and undemocratic exclusion of major political leaders, in particular Laurent GBAGBO, Guillaume SORO, Mabri TOIKEUSSE, Mamadou KOULIBALY and Marcel Amon TANOH. We must remain in working order for democratic alternation with a view to building a reconciled, united and prosperous Côte d'Ivoire.” In the context of Ivoirian politics this has a certain irony as it is Bédié himself who was associated with the introduction of the concept of “ivoirité” designed to exclude Ouattara from the presidential race between 1994 and 1999 on the basis of claims of his Burkina Faso lineage.

When we observe what is happening now around the upcoming election, we thus have exactly the same situation as in 1995, 1999, 2000, 2010 where we saw political violence. The reconciliation which Ouattara promised has not come to fruition, not because it is the fault of any particular individual or political party, but because coming to terms with a long history of political violence, political exclusion, and inequality between ethnic groups, is a long-term process which is neither predictable nor linear. Research undertake by Interpeace and Indigo Côte d’Ivoire identifies a number of challenges to social cohesion, including inequalities over land ownership, lack of economic opportunities for young people, and reduced civic engagement. The capture of the political space, previously by Félix Houphouët-Boigny, who ruled from independence in 1960 until 1993, and then in successive attempts to exclude individuals from the Presidential races, has severely restricted space for safe public dialogue about the challenges and realities of reconciliation. There has also been a lack of acknowledgement that reconciliation may look very different to different people. This is not a problem unique to Côte d’Ivoire but is a tension inherent within calls to reconciliation wherever we hear them. To what extent can different points of view be accommodated within a national project to reconcile? For if reconciliation is to lead to the kind of social cohesion that Ivoirians have been promised for generations, it must be founded on dialogue, acknowledgement of others, and be able to accommodate varied experiences and points of view. If reconciliation itself disappears from view while the politicians argue over it, it will be Ivoirians who continue to suffer the effects.

You can read this post in French.


July 27, 2020

Global Insights: COVID–19 and the Future of International Order

International order

Authors: Renske Doorenspleet, Abdul Mohammed, Michael Saward, David Welch

Editors: Briony Jones and Maeve Moynihan

This post is part of a larger collection covering the Global Insights webinar series, hosted jointly by Balsillie School of International Affairs (Canada), the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Warwick (UK), the Institute for Strategic Affairs (Ethiopia), American University’s School of International Service (USA), and Konstanz University (Germany). This series of Global Insights has finished and the next series will resume in September. You can access a recording of this week’s webinar here.

Panellists: Ann Fitz-Gerald (Chair, BSIA), Renske Doorenspleet (University of Warwick), Miles Kahler (American University), Abdul Mohammed (African Union High Level Implementation Panel), Michael Saward (University of Warwick), David Welch (University of Waterloo)


What impact has the pandemic had on the current rules-based international order of the post-World War II era?

The breakdown of the international order started long before COVID-19, but it has accelerated during this period. If major national governments do not see the COVID-19 crisis as a cause for collective response, the international order will decline. One must acknowledge that there are different kinds of international orders, including the liberal, rules-based, and American hegemonic orders. COVID-19 has clearly had different effects on each. The world has seen challenges to all aspects of democratic practices and structures and is experiencing widespread democratic disengagement. Representative democracy, closely linked to liberal democracy, faces all sorts of challenges. Who speaks for whom? Where does credibility and authenticity come from? The pandemic has threatened global supply chains and may indeed lead to isolationist policies in which countries ‘go it alone’ if they are faring better socioeconomically.

From the perspective of the African continent, the multilateral world order is in turmoil and breaking apart, or indeed paralysed, in many places. This paralysis has far reaching implications for peace and security in Africa. Transactional politics and the use of resources, coercion and deceit over rules-based institutional politics has increased. In many cases, the conduct of politics has become akin to running a business as opposed to governing a polity for the common good, which the pandemic only exacerbates. Substantial gains should be recognised and defended, but transactional politics need to be understood in the context of resurgence of power competition. The pandemic has created a deep divide between the fact of being elected and the inclination to represent. In countries such as Brazil and the United States, individuals have been forced to represent themselves, in the Black Lives Matter movement, for example. Questions remain about what further challenges and crises the pandemic will provoke in the coming months and years.

Traditionally, liberal democracies have been the champions of the rules-based international order. But can democracies survive the pandemic?

It’s too early to understand what kind of political systems have responded the best to the pandemic. Some democratic governments have performed well, such as South Korea and Taiwan, whereas others have performed poorly, such as the United States and Brazil. Taking a global view, the structure of a political system alone is not necessarily the key to success or failure. Similar variance in the success of authoritarian regimes reinforces this idea.

In general, governments that responded early, quickly, and strategically have seen the best successes. In many cases, these are small liberal democracies able to mobilise resources quickly. Many of these are ruled by women. New Zealand, Iceland, South Korea, and Taiwan have been particularly successful. On the other hand, many larger countries typically understood as main actors in the international order, such as China, the USA, and the UK, have been criticised for lack of transparency and late and sometimes even cavalier responses to the crisis. Minority ethnic groups have been hit particularly hard in liberal democracies, especially the USA and the UK, in terms of health and unemployment during the pandemic. Additionally, countries led by populist governments have generally fared poorly, perhaps signifying a moment from which populism’s appeal may decline in the longer term. When looking to the context of the African continent, most African governments are now the product of some sort of election, of varying degrees of legitimacy. The pandemic has also highlighted that Africa is in a position to manage tension between China and the USA’s interests in Africa.

We have seen a rise in illiberalism and a reaffirmation of state sovereignty since 2016, and the pandemic seems to be accelerating this trend. Is the future illiberal?

The pandemic may not extend the trend toward illiberalism, but it has indeed had a strong impact on polarisation. Although illiberalism is unlikely to triumph, the polarisation that it generates will lead to deep problems for global governance and may threaten collaboration in future crises, such as the climate crisis. The countries that have fared better in managing the pandemic are countries with a strong, people-oriented state history and robust public health systems. Countries like Germany and Taiwan, for example, have fared better. Others however, such as the USA and the UK (since the Reagan and Thatcher revolutions) have dismantled the state and privileged the private sector at the expense of public goods and thus have not fared well. Countries with a strong tradition of a capable state that delivers public goods could re-organise themselves and play an important role in the restructuring of the global order and serve as influential leaders moving forward.

Strong-man governments, whether democratic, authoritarian, or populist, have performed very poorly (India, USA, Russia, Brazil). In their refusal to consult experts or admit to the true nature and scale of the virus, these regimes have been most disruptive to the international order. In Africa, the anti-scientific perspective has not been as much of a problem, as countries within the continent have a history of dealing with pandemics more than others, relatively speaking. Dictatorships have used this crisis to decrease civil liberties, as in the case of Chinese journalists, the censorship of information, and other tools. However, it is important to acknowledge that illiberal trends within the established liberal democracies have also increased during the pandemic, such as new surveillance technologies in contact tracing apps. This is not necessarily antidemocratic, but it is a significant risk, as political abuse of these new measures is likely. Citizens may get used to measures of control that include not only surveillance, but the quashing of protest and civil disobedience. This ‘new normal’ could lead to a reduction of individual rights and freedoms after the peak of the crisis. It is important to keep a close eye on how those rights can be protected, and checks and balances, transparency and oversight are more important than ever.

The defining features of the concept of democracy, or the interpretations of the defining features, may be debated moving forward. The idea of burden sharing and a more collective form of social democracy as a kind of modifier or diluter has interesting potential. Similarly, the idea of protective democracy—the idea that states are there to protect the rights of individuals, takes on a wider meaning of protection of citizen lives and wellbeing during the pandemic. Finally, the machinery of democracy has new questions posed against it, not least how to run elections and conduct deliberative forums while keeping social distancing. With regard to the conduct of elections, we have seen good examples from South Korea, and more concerning examples from the USA, in Wisconsin for instance.

Is the sun setting on the rules-based international order?

The danger to this new future of the international order is that liberal democracies have granted themselves significant powers that may not disappear, making a conversation about such powers necessary. There may be a new high-water mark in terms of state intervention into individual lives and businesses, and emergency powers may need to be debated openly. To what extent and over what timeframe and how much accountability are emergency powers tolerable, legitimate, and acceptable? Equally as concerning, many conversations around COVID-19 have excluded children, who are not well-represented in our current political systems - we do not talk much about them, let alone talk with them. The pandemic is having devastating consequences for children and their rights. It has had a massive impact on education, socialising, poverty and more. Children in conflict zones and refugee camps suffer most. COVID-19 will undoubtedly add to varying forms of trauma that children everywhere experience. The international community needs to take measures to protect children in health, education, and other areas of rights. Save the Children and World Vision, among other organisations, have a role to play. In April 2020, Terre des hommes launched the #CovidUnder19 initiative by mobilising a group of young people, child rights activists, civil society organisations and UN stakeholders. The initiative set out to understand children’s views about and experiences of life under Coronavirus, and amplify their voices to inform policymakers, professionals working with children, and governments.

What might the future of international order look like?

The economic consequences of the pandemic are grave and there will be a tendency to withdraw and look inward, which is as much as a threat to the international order as disruption by one country or another. As states look inward, the pandemic could facilitate the end of state-centric politics, as there are a host of influential non-governmental actors, civil society organisations, and international corporations that are becoming more aware. These actors maintain a certain level of interest and engagement when governments are so focused on inward domestic affairs. The future could allow us to redefine what constitutes a fair, democratic, and accessible participatory global order. Right now, the global order is defined by military and economic power. We can play an important role in having other public goods form a part of this global order. Importantly, the new global order should not reorganise itself based on the current status quo.

The pandemic has created an incredible opportunity for cooperation in a self-selected, voluntary way. Countries previously excluded from playing a dominant role in international order (such as Finland, Norway, Iceland, Germany, France, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea) now have the opportunity to take a creative leadership role. Such a group could think about real policy options that would boost international cooperation and strengthen the existing structures for promoting and defending democracy. The decentralisation of power could also play an interesting role in the idea of a rules-based international order. The pandemic has highlighted the role of local and city governments that were previously often unacknowledged.

While a new international order could have positive elements, there are also grave threats that could lead to the potential for stagnation and fragmentation in global order due to disengagement and deepening conflict between the USA and China. The USA presidential elections in November will play a significant role in the future international order. Similarly, changes in the EU could have an impact on its capacities in the international order, as the EU in some ways lacks democratic legitimacy and it lacks a hold on the imaginations of European citizens. Its mechanisms are effective but capacity to generate legitimacy is weak. The pandemic will have a significant impact on economic inequality and the role of democracy in our societies, as tendencies toward authoritarian regimes may rise. We need a new multilateralism that is suited to the contemporary order and leadership that will make it possible for us to facilitate this. Collective leadership of countries that had previously been content to follow the United States must now provide leadership and come together to articulate a new collective global order. Leadership will need to address the global challenges of gross inequality, climate change, and other challenges in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommendations for Policy Makers

1. Revise democratic practices to be more participative and heal the disconnect with citizens.

2. Be more aware of illiberal trends in established democracies, so protect rights and liberties while also safeguarding transparency and oversight, checks and balances, because they are more important than ever.

3. Include children in the democratic process and let them be heard.

4. Do not lose sight of other key global challenges and crises, particularly climate change. Consider the lessons to be learned from this crisis in order to deal with the next.

5. Create a more cooperative and open international order that includes a much larger public than it has in the past.

6. Defenders of liberal order should get together and collaborate (particularly countries indicated previously: New Zealand, Taiwan, etc.)


About WICID

The Warwick Interdisciplinary Research Centre for International Development addresses urgent problems of inequality and social, political and economic change on a global level.

WICID Website

Editorial team

Dr. Briony Jones
Dr Mouzayian Khalil-Babatunde
Zaki Jaffri


If you wish to contribute to the blog, please contact think.development@warwick.ac.uk We are always looking for articles, essays, photos and videos dealing with different aspects of international development.

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