Shaping a post-coronavirus new world order

Tuesday, April 21st, 2020 00:00 |
Corona isolation centre.

The coronavirus pandemic has captured global attention, drowning political contestations while also spawning conspiracy theories.

Despite the unprecedented havoc wreaked on humanity, health and economies, the pandemic has also opened a floodgate of scientific interrogation and digestion that has greatly contributed to the dissemination of accurate information.

Never in the past two centuries has humanity come to appreciate the media and technology’s vital role in delivering timely, correct information to the public as governments, health workers and scientists confront a pandemic that threatens our very existence.

The pandemic has triggered an avalanche of research and studies, strengthening the media’s capacity to hold power, politicians and corporations to account based on empirical evidence. 

Legacy media should be wary in a contested information environment of distrust and confusion where their authority is undermined by social media and fringe news that often spread misinformation, disinformation and flawed analysis.

As the global community battles to contain the spread of the pandemic that has affected over two million and left more than 150,000 dead, there is hope that it will eventually be contained. The big question is what next…how will our lives be after coronavirus?

Currently, focus is on immediate needs – boosting hospital capacity, addressing hunger and protecting firms and families from the economic downturn.

Work has already started on the next phase of recovery that demands strong public action in rejuvenating our health systems, stabilising financial systems, building prosperity and resilience for the vulnerable and charting a new pathway for sustainable development. 

Africa will experience an acute economic crisis, and the IMF warns that Covid-19 will exact a heavy human toll, threatening to reverse hard-won gains and recent momentum.  

With economic growth projected to sink by an unprecedented 1.6 per cent, African countries should take advantage of the recent debt relief to boost health spending and provide social transfers to the millions whose livelihoods have been overturned.

World Bank president David Malpass and IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva said after the G20 finance ministers’ meeting: “This is a powerful, fast-acting initiative that will do much to safeguard the lives and livelihoods of millions of the most vulnerable people.”

The killer virus has devastated the lives of peasants and working classes. Going forward, two leading scholars of international politics, Inderjeet Parmar and Atul Bhardwaj, warn of the threat to hijack such opportunities to rejuvenate the socio-economic rights of the vulnerable.

“Corporate-dominated states are already in action to help the privateers and rentiers to re-emerge from the health tsunami with renewed neo-liberal vigour, parading as the saviours of mankind.

However, they face significant political and moral barriers to returning to pre-Covid ‘normalcy’ because workers are on the move with popular recognition that the state has been forced to act to support working people.”

Overseas Development Institute chief executive Sara Pantuliano concurs, saying a return to normalcy post-crisis does not mean mere restoration of the previous situation, but should lead to the establishment of a new order that, in the words of Mark Fisher, allows “what was previously deemed to be impossible seem attainable.”

This calls on citizens to unite into social movements to push for change involving the media, trade unions, civil society, think tanks and  NGOs to work with governments and businesses to help shape a more sustainable and equal ‘normal’ for all. [email protected]

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