The coronavirus pandemic has already become the main event of the leap year, relegating other dramatic news of recent months to the background. It also turned out to be the most severe stress test for the global economic and financial system, for many international organizations and public administration mechanisms in individual countries. This test is far from complete since the peak of the pandemic is still far away, and the repercussions of the global spread of 2019-nCoV (aka SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19) have yet to be assessed. Nevertheless, some preliminary conclusions can already be made. Unfortunately, these findings are disappointing.
Most experts, journalists and politicians focus on the economic and financial impact of the pandemic. How will the coronavirus affect global trade and investment? What will happen to international supply chains? How will global financial markets respond? How will the geography and scale of cross-border migration flows change?
All these questions are, without a doubt, fundamental. And not only for “them”, i.e. governments, top multinational companies and financial holdings but also for “us”, i.e. ordinary people in all corners of the planet. It is already clear today that for a lot of people, life will be divided into “before” and “after” the pandemic: some will have to give up their travelling hobby, some will not be able to get a raise, and some will switch to remote work or be tempted by the possibility of downshifting.
Nonetheless, we should not forget about the political, or rather political and psychological, consequences. They are not as noticeable, but no less important, both for “us” and “them”. Indicators of global political trends and sentiments today are as alarming as are the indicators of global economic trends. The preliminary results of the coronavirus test on humanity reveal clear signs of a political and psychological immunodeficiency or, if you like, an absence of the instinct that is inherent in any biological species to protect one’s own population.
All for One or Each for Themselves?
All epidemics, from the Athenian or so-called Thucydidean” plague (430 BC) to the Ebola epidemic (2014–2015), ultimately ended one way or another. Sooner or later, the current coronavirus pandemic will also be under control. However, different epidemics affected the course of world history in different ways. Some of them could be compared to what programmers call a bug: a random error in a computer program that leads to an unplanned and undesirable result. Others took on the character of a feature, i.e. became an organic property, essential aspect, characteristic trait, permanent function and even “additional functionality” of the program.
The first scenario (bug) is likely if humanity or an individual population that has been affected by the epidemic is able to draw the necessary conclusions from the disaster and prevent it from recurring in the future. The second scenario (feature) is inevitable if appropriate conclusions are not drawn, the lessons of the disaster are forgotten, and the epidemic does not lead to any changes in the usual political priorities, management approaches, psychological attitudes and the old way of life. A bug is perceived as a problem, a feature is seen as an inevitability. You fix a bug, but you live with a feature. Let’s examine the specific case of the current coronavirus pandemic.
Logic suggests that the population should rally against a common threat, especially when it comes to the homo sapiens species, which is at the top of the evolutionary ladder. Man, as we all know, is a social being. Putting aside internal disagreements and group conflicts – at least for a while – mankind should focus on finding a solution to a truly universal problem.
And what are we seeing now, when humanity is faced with a progressing pandemic? Political leaders are remarkably reluctant to make significant changes to their international agendas. The spread of coronavirus neither prevented the recent exacerbation of the situation in Syria nor the breakdown of ceasefire agreements in Libya. Iran’s transformation into one of the leading centers of the pandemic did not prompt Washington to attempt even a symbolic easing of its economic sanctions against Tehran. Nor did the pandemic become an incentive for Russia and Saudi Arabia to make mutual concessions during the OPEC+ negotiations, which could have prevented the collapse in oil prices and the subsequent panic on global financial markets. In each of these and in many other cases, the universal interests of the self-preservation of the human population have invariably been pushed into the background for the sake of opportunistic political, economic or other group interests.
Moreover, the pandemic itself has started to be perceived as an opportunity to strengthen one’s position in geopolitical and economic competition. United States Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Louis Ross is optimistic that the coronavirus epidemic “will help to accelerate the return of jobs to North America.” A number of Western economists were quick to announce that the pandemic would spell the end of the “Chinese era” in global manufacturing and the final victory of the United States in the economic confrontation with Beijing. Of course, the fact that China was the first victim of the coronavirus presented an excellent opportunity to talk about the inefficiency of authoritarian systems in preventing epidemics, about the redundancy of the restrictive measures taken by the Chinese authorities, to reiterate concerns about the human rights situation in China, and so on.
In recent weeks, U.S. officials have not once missed an opportunity to refer to the culprit as the “Chinese” (“Wuhan”) virus. In turn, Chinese officials have speculated that the virus may have been brought to Wuhan by the U.S. military, who had participated in the Military World Games held in the city last October.
All in all, we must admit that four months after the start of the pandemic, the world continues its everyday squabbling over momentary disagreements, petty vanity and tactical gains and losses. In other words, the pandemic is perceived not so much as a global bug that needs to be fixed at all costs, but as a new feature of world politics that can be used to advance your interests and counter those of your opponents and competitors. Paraphrasing the famous saying by King Frederick William I of Prussia, modern statesmen may well say: “A pandemic is a pandemic, but the war should be on schedule.”
However, maybe we should blame the whole thing solely on unscrupulous politicians, insatiable defense corporations and irresponsible financial fraudsters? Unfortunately, I cannot agree with this statement. The current pandemic often exposes unseemly features of the human character, not only in the abstract “them” but also in the very specific “us”. All these politicians, corporations and banks turn out to be just as irresponsible, unscrupulous and short-sighted as allowed by the existing social demand.
“You Die Today, and I Die Tomorrow”?
It is natural for the human consciousness (or rather the subconscious) to reject negative scenarios. We are even less willing to consider such scenarios as directly affecting ourselves and our loved ones. This is especially true for countries and even entire continents that have enjoyed peace and the absence of obvious threats to personal security for several generations. Hence the numerous instances of the frivolous attitude to the pandemic at its initial stages, especially in European countries, where we saw a defiant unpreparedness and unwillingness to follow recommendations and even direct orders from the authorities. “They went on doing business, arranged for journeys, and formed views,” wrote Albert Camus in his novel The Plague. “How should they have given a thought to anything like the plague, which rules out any future, cancels journeys, silences the exchange of views. They fancied themselves free, and no one will ever be free so long as there are pestilences.”
At the service of infantile optimists is a whole army of experts who urge us not to dramatize the situation. They inform us that the number of people killed by the new virus over the course of the entire pandemic is comparable to the number of people dying of tuberculosis in the world every day. They remind us that even ordinary flu leads to more deaths today than the coronavirus has managed to cause. They tell us that in the United States, for example, car accidents claim more than a hundred lives every day, and yet no one in America is thinking of banning cars because of that.
When, finally, ordinary people are forced to open their eyes to the true extent of the problem, they often act no better than the cynical and selfish politicians. Of course, the pandemic has already provided many examples of human solidarity, civil initiative and true heroism. And yet.
In the relatively prosperous south of Italy, agitated activists refused to accept refugees from the disadvantaged north of the country, and in some places this reluctance even led them to block roads and railway stations. In the Poltava region of Ukraine, local residents threw stones at buses with fellow citizens evacuated from Wuhan. Fearing the spread of the virus on the African continent, the public in many African countries remained deaf to the requests of their compatriots to help them with their evacuation from Wuhan. In the United States, the federal government was forced to accommodate potential carriers of the virus at military bases. Also telling is the case of the Westerdam cruise ship, which, under pressure from the public, was not allowed to moor in the ports of Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand for two weeks, until, finally, the passengers were able to go ashore in the Cambodian port of Sihanoukville. All of this was despite the fact that not a single infected person was found on board.
Historical experience suggests that the victims of any epidemic or natural disaster are invariably those social, economic, ethnic and religious groups that were the most disadvantaged even before the emergency. These groups are most vulnerable to the threat of the dissolution of traditional social ties, lack of quality medical care, increasing unemployment and other problems. These groups are also the ones that are most often blamed for the consequences of disasters, such as the Jewish pogroms that rolled over Europe during the famous Black Death epidemic of 1348–1351. Under extreme conditions, the processes of social and cultural polarization tend to accelerate, and the much-needed social cohesion in the face of a common threat becomes extremely difficult to achieve.
Carrying this general pattern over to the international level, it would be fair to conclude that, in the event of a global pandemic, the least vulnerable and least wealthy states and territories will ultimately be the most vulnerable. It is one thing when the virus spreads throughout affluent Europe or the effectively managed China. It is an entirely different matter if, for example, the epicenter is Afghanistan, Idlib in Syria, South Sudan or the Gaza Strip. It is hard to imagine the scale of consequences a pandemic may have in places with ravaged infrastructure, numerous hotbeds of political radicalism and extremism and constant outbreaks of armed violence.
What is easy to imagine, though, is how right-wing populists in Europe or extremists in the Middle East will use this situation to strengthen their positions. In fact, they are already exploiting the pandemic heavily, because for them the coronavirus is definitely a feature, not a bug, a novel opportunity, or a new threat. In Europe, the pandemic strengthens the arguments of the right-wing parties in Italy, France, Spain and Poland, who demand that borders be closed and the flow of international migration stopped. One interpretation that arose in the Middle East is that the coronavirus was cast upon the Chinese as a punishment for oppressing Muslims. In Russia, the virus works for those who espouse total isolationism, prophesize the irreversible downfall of the West and preach eschatological optimism.
What about the social responsibility of the media? The pandemic is becoming a source of endless speculation, opportunistic propaganda and misinformation. Conspiracy theories have flourished: the virus is declared to be a product of secret laboratories, and its distribution the diabolical plan of powerful dark forces nesting either in Washington, or Beijing, or Jerusalem, or possibly even Moscow. Fears of the pandemic, fueled by politicians and journalists, are nourishing dark instincts, stirring up the muddy waters that are inevitably present at the bottom of any national identity. Demand for various “horror stories”, in turn, stimulates the supply – and the shabby inventions of countless conspiracy theorists are snapped up by the townsfolk just as soap, salt and matches were swept from the shelves during previous epidemics.
An Epidemic of Minds, Not Bodies
Mankind’s readiness for collective action in the fight against common challenges – be it epidemics, natural disasters or man-made disasters – is generally declining. The systematic cultivation of nationalism and national exclusiveness, the implicit or explicit promotion of xenophobia, the arrogant disregard for international law, the prioritizing of tactical interests over strategic ones – all these features of world politics that we have observed in recent years will not pass without consequence.
Just a couple of decades ago, the willingness for international cooperation was much higher. When the so-called “bird flu” epidemic broke out at the beginning of the century, U.S. epidemiologists immediately came to the aid of their Chinese colleagues in identifying the virus (H5N1). As a result, the extremely dangerous bird flu outbreak (its mortality rate reached 60%) was nipped in the bud, and only several hundred people fell victim to the epidemic. Of course, those were the blessed times when the United States still had no restrictions on scientific cooperation with China, and the People’s Republic was not at all considered an implacable foe of the United States.
Throughout the many years since the deadly epidemic of the Ebola virus, authoritative epidemiologists have time and again proposed a wide variety of measures to bolster international cooperation in combating dangerous infectious diseases. But the new pandemic demonstrated the weakness and fragility of international organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO). Who in the world today believes that the WHO can become a truly effective global headquarters for the fight against coronavirus? Judging by the amount of resources provided to the organization, almost no one: the WHO’s total budget does not exceed the budget of a big American hospital. This is despite the fact that the organization’s outstanding experience in countering dangerous diseases is beyond doubt: just recall the global eradication of smallpox and the undeniable successes in the fight against polio and malaria.
Societies in most countries of the world have ceased to trust international organizations, no longer seeing them as reliable mechanisms to counter epidemics and other threats. Even in the European Union, the most important decisions regarding the coronavirus today are made in national capitals, and not in Brussels. But societies do not trust their own governments either, suspecting them of concealing the true extent of the pandemic, as well as of using the pandemic for their narrow political purposes. Governments, for their part, do not trust each other, and that applies not only to potential adversaries and competitors, but also to allies and partners. As a result, a vicious circle of total distrust is emerging, which is an ideal breeding ground for any epidemic.
It appears that the upcoming G20 Summit in Riyadh in November 2020 will be mainly devoted to the problems posed by the imminent global recession, by new challenges to the global financial system and by the coronavirus. But can humanity wait until November, in the meantime confining itself to helpless attempts to stop the pandemic in each individual country? Is it worth hoping that a miraculous vaccine will be invented in the coming months, or that the coronavirus will not spread during the hot summer period? Should we convene an emergency G20 meeting to discuss the current pandemic?
It appears that without unrelenting pressure from the public, governments will not be willing to take collective action, still perceiving the coronavirus not as a bug, but as a feature of world politics. Such an approach will inevitably doom homo sapiens to degradation and, ultimately, to extinction. And this does not only include the abstract “them” such as governments and corporations, but also the very specific “us”. If not today, it could be in ten or fifty years. If not from coronavirus, it could be from climate change or global nuclear war. What other signal does humanity need to finally wake up the self-preservation instinct that is inherent in any biological species?
From our partner RIAC
COVID-19: UN Security Council should urgently take a Lead
Authors: Tan Sri Hasmy Agam and Prof. Anis H. Bajrektarevic
The COVID-19 situation is very worrying, indeed, alarming matter, not just as a global health and biosafety issue, but potentially as a global security challenge, too.
While the pandemic is being dealt with by the World Health Organisation (WHO), along with other relevant United Nation Specialised Agencies (UN SA), the situation is deteriorating rapidly and could easily get out of control. This of course, if it is not effectively contained. In such a (more and more likely) scenario, it would be engulfing the entire world, virtually akin to as the Third world war, though initially of a different kind.
We are amazed as to why the Security Council has not stepped in. It should have done so as to address the Covid-19 and surrounding scenery in the way it clearly deserves to be dealt with, given its devastating impact on the entire international community on almost every dimension, including international peace and security, which indisputably falls under its mandate under the UN Charter.
As the Council has often dealt with issues which are sometimes not ostensibly related to international or regional security, we are puzzled, indeed alarmed, as to why it has chosen not to come to grips with the pandemic as a matter of the utmost urgency.
If the members of the Council, for their own internal reasons, have not felt compelled to do so, shouldn’t the other members of the world body, individually or collectively as international or regional groupings, such as the European Union (EU), the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) – G-77,African Union (AU), or ASEAN, take the much-desired initiative to call on the Security Council to imperatively address this global pandemic, even as the WHO and other concerned UN agencies, much to their credit, are dealing with the issue from their own (narrow) perspectives – and yet rather limited mandate and resources.
In this regard, especially the EU, would be well-positioned to exert the much-need pressure on the UNSC, given the devastation that the Virus has wreaked on a number of its members, notably Italy and Spain, among others.
Such an urgent Meeting of the UN Security Council at this point in time would be greatly applauded by the entire international community as it would accord the world body the leadership role that its members expect it to play.
Gens una sumus. Concordia patria firmat
In this dire situation, the big powers should put aside their ideological and policy differences, or power play, and focus instead on galvanizing concerted international actions of ensuring the safety and wellbeing of the entire human race.
By decisively and urgently acting, the UN Secretary-General and the UN SC would be sending a bold and clear yet tranquilising signal to the entire humanity. More importantly, such a unison voice would be also welcomed and well understood as a referential (not to say a norm setting) note by other crucial agencies, such as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR), International Labour Organisation (ILO), International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), World Tourism Organisation (WTO), as well as by the Red Cross (IFRC), Bretton Woods institutions, Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Federation of Trade Unions, including other specialised or non-UN FORAs, most notably developmental entities such as the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), Asia Development Bank (ADB), Africa Development Bank (AfDB), etc.
In the following period – while witnessing indeed a true historical conjuncture, we need a global observance and protection of human rights, of jobs, for the benefit of economy and overall security. Recovery – which from now on require a formidable biosafety, too – will be impossible without social consensus. Clearly, it will be unsustainable if on expenses of labour or done through erosion of basic human rights – embedded in the UN Charter and accepted as essential to the very success of SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals).
Indeed, countries are not just economies, but most of all societies.
(The truth is plain to see: Planet has stopped, although the Capital remains intact. We came to a global halt because the Labour has been sent home. Hence, the recovery comes with labour. Historically, labour has never betrayed, while capital has failed us many times. By the same token, human rights never betrayed the state and its social cohesion, but the states – and much glorified markets – far too many times in history have failed humans. Therefore, there is no true exit from the crisis without strengthening the labour and human rights.)
For a grave planetary problem, our rapidly articulated global accord is badly needed. Therefore, multilateralism – as the most effective planetary tool at our disposal – is not our policy choice. It is the only way for human race to (socio-economically and politically) survive.
Covid-19 is a challenge that comes from the world of biology. Yet, biology and international relations share one basic rule: Comply or die. To remind us; it is not the big that eat the small, rather it is a fast which eats the slow.
It is night time to switch off the autopilot. Leadership and vision now!!
World Governments Need Cooperation of Every Section of Society to Defeat COVID-19
COVID-19 has wrapped the whole world in its trap because of multiple reasons in which irresponsible behaviour at the hands of states remains at the top. There were some nations such as Italy and America which were not taking the threat of coronavirus serious resultantly both the countries are now the most affected nations of the world. Even at the extent that the president of America Donald Trump was showing passive behaviour concerning the outbreak of devastating virus resultantly the US has surpassed China and reached the top by highest patients in the world which have crossed two lacs including almost five thousand deaths. In this regard, President Trump has signed the $2 trillion Coronavirus relief bill. Besides, other nations such as Italy, Spain, China, Germany, France, and Iran come respectively after the US about the patients of COVID-19. As for as Pakistan is concerned, Prime Minister Imran Khan also urged for the international as well as national cooperation to control and eliminate the threat of COVID-19. While people in Pakistan are not still taking it seriously or fully cooperating with government via looking over their immature and unserious behaviour concerning the restrictions imposed by the government through violating them. In this regard, the government has sealed various shops and other public places that were open even after lockdown. Therefore the government has taken serious steps through lodging FIR against them. Besides, various madrassas/masjids were also offering Friday congregation prayers via side-lining the guidelines given by the government therefore many people were arrested and put behind the bars by security forces of the country. While looking over the staggering and worsening condition of Pakistan which shows a fast increase in the patients of coronavirus government requires the seriousness and cooperation of people to control over fatal disease otherwise it will wipe out most of the population of the country.
Consequently, it is not only the responsibility of people within states to cooperate with the government to defeat first this global pandemic disease but it is also high time for states to cooperate even having multiple differences over numerous issues. In this regard, for defeating Coronavirus states require global cooperation via setting their enmities and differences aside for the common good. Besides, China continues international cooperation to beat COVID-19. Beijing is determined to cooperate and help other nations, therefore, it has sent aid towards 18 countries over the past month in which it has sent its team as well as tons of medical supply to various countries such as Italy, Cambodia, Pakistan, and United Kingdom. Along with this Chinese government said that those countries which are not provided aid by it were helping them through an online website. Via looking over the commitment and relentless struggle of the Chinese government as well as people particularly medical staff, they have become successful in controlling the spread of COVID-19. In the same manner, China also emphasized the global stakeholders that global cooperation is the only way to beat the coronavirus. The governments need acts with speed, scale and clear-minded determination to conquer the fast-spreading virus. Because “viruses do not respect border: neither do they distinguish between races or nations, therefore, responsible governments worldwide should stand firmly against hatred and racism and join hands to promote disease prevention and clinical treatment as well as vaccine development”.
World Health Organisation (WHO) Chief in his recent media briefing said that “This is not just a threat for individual people or individual countries. We are all in this together, and we can only save lives together”. Though preventive measures suggested by the countries which have minimized and controlled the fast spread of COVID-19 such as China, South Korea, and Sudan are social distancing, contact tracing, widespread testing, and early preparation. In the DW documentary, Dr. Alexander Edward, an Immunologist, emphasized on the usage of face masks, he also entertained that the world is running out of face mask because of its massive usage. Besides, Nature is a weekly international journal that published an article on March 9 in which emphasized over three things to eliminate coronavirus namely follow WHO advice, end secrecy in decision-making and cooperate globally which is the only way to defeat one of the worst infectious-diseases spread throughout the world. COVID-19 has left severe effects on the social, political, economic, and financial structures of the world. So, it is very difficult only for the governments of states to control and defeat this pandemic virus. In this regard, governments need the seriousness of behaviour as well as the cooperation of each section of society may it be doctor, social workers, government and private employs, common people, armed forces, businessmen, farmers along with each person who can contribute in any way to help the government to defeat the Coronavirus. This is the easiest and fast way to fight against coronavirus otherwise whole nations including governments are going to bear the brunt of this one of the most dangerous viruses of the 21st Century.
Satya N. Nandan: End of an era for Law of the Sea
The passing away of Amb. Satya N. Nandan of Fijion February 25, 2020 comes as a decisive loss to law of the sea as both a field of academic inquiry and a branch of applied public international law. As a crusader for a global rules based order for the world’s oceans, there are few who have contributed to the practical development and evolution of this field as the iconic Fijian lawyer-diplomat who would hold top positions in the United Nations and man the International Seabed Authority for the better part of its existence. His seminal contribution to Law of the Sea marks him out as a world-renowned practioner in a field that was marked by Westphalian struggles to establish control over the world oceans and the vast resources that lie beneath in the years leading to the adoption of United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, 1982 (UNCLOS). His death marks the end of an era for the discipline that continues to evolve based on the provisions of UNCLOS and the untiring efforts of States to strive for a world order based on equity and justice.
Born in 1936 in what was then known as the British Crown Colony of Fiji as the youngest of ten children to Shiu Nandan and Raj Kaur, Satya Nandan after completing his early education in his home country moved to New Zealand to complete his high school education. Pursuant to a law degree from the University of London in 1965, Nandan became a barrister at Lincoln’s Inn before returning to Fiji to start private practice. The newly independent nation would seek his assistance in establishing the country’s mission to the United Nations in 1970 eventually leading to his absorption as a career diplomat in Fiji. From here on Satya Nandan would be the moral and intellectual voice of the Pacific Island States seeking to assert their legitimate claims on ocean resources and championing the codification of what was then regarded as one of the last unregulated frontiers of the global commons. This association with law of the sea and ocean affairs would become a lifetime preoccupation for the rising young lawyer-diplomat.
Amb. Nandan’s most remarkable contribution to law of the sea would be his work as the Rapporteur of the Second Committee of the Conference that dealt with the major issues of law of the sea. The inability of the First and Second Geneva Conventions to iron out contentious issues failed to result in a global ocean convention acceptable to all States. The mistakes where sought to be corrected by the time the Third Conference on the Law of the Sea convened in New York in 1973. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, 1982 was the result of this Conference and has been the major treaty body regulating the use of oceans for the international community since its coming into force on November 16, 1994. Amb. Satya Nandan is widely recognized as the principal architect of this exercise who ironed out differences existing between various countries on diverse contentious issues. In the process, the Pacific States and Asian-African States were able to secure maritime jurisdictional claims of 200 NM from their baselines through the creation of Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs), a unique output of the Convention first articulated in the Colombo Session of the Asian African Legal Consultative Organization (AALCO) in 1971 by Kenya. In addition, Amb. Nandan negotiated the rights for archipelagic States and the passage through straits for international navigation. In all cases, his determination to safeguard the interest of Pacific States and by doing so the interests of the broader community of Asian-African States stood out with conviction that continues to find resonance in global treaty negotiations till this date.
The provisions pertaining to deep-sea bed mining continued to remain contentious even after the adoption of the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention. This lead to the delay in the coming into force of the Convention. Urged by the then Secretary-General of the United Nations, Javier Perez de Cueller, Amb. Nandan joined the Organization as the Under Secretary- General for Ocean Affairs and Law of the Sea and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Law of the Sea. Most of the concerns pertaining to the issue were resolved through the intervention of Amb. Nandan as Chairman of the ‘Boat Paper Group’ resulting in the 1994 Implementing Agreement on Part XI, which created the International Seabed Authority to regulate the conservation and use of non-living resources on the deep-sea bed in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
Elected as the Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority in 1996, Amb. Nandan in his three-term tenure that lasted till December 2008 was instrumental in moulding the ISA from its inception as an international organization with a specific mandate including establishing its main organs- the Assembly, Council, Legal and Technical Commission and the Finance Committee. It was during his tenure that the Regulations on Prospecting and Exploration of Polymetallic Nodules in the Area also known as the ‘Nodules Regulations’ were promulgated that would regulate the actual conduct of deep-sea mining in the ‘Area’ . The establishment of an Endowment Fund in 2006 by the Authority for the advancement for marine scientific research (MSR) activities was also a significant feature of the work of the Authority and was widely welcomed as advancing the mandate of UNCLOS, 1982. Incorporating the ‘Precautionary Approach’ to the work of the Authority was a legacy of Amb. Nandan, which was validated by the Seabed Disputes Chamber in February 2011 in an advisory opinion that mandated the application of this principle as originally laid down in the 1992 Rio Declaration.
Amb. Nandan’s role in creating a global legal framework for fishery conservation was yet another shining aspect of his legacy. As Chairman of the Conference on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks, the global community would witness theadoption of the 1995 United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement under his leadership and the subsequent setting up of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission. His lifelong commitment to sustainable use of marine living resources continues to inspire sustainability debates in the sector and remains highly valuable in the context of ‘blue economy’ debates.
The Virginia Commentary, which remains the most significant and reliable elucidation on the law of the seawas spearheaded by Amb. Nandan. It gives a masterly account of the treaty negotiation process leading to the adoption of the convention and forms a crucial corpus of the Law of the Sea. While it involved the effort of numerous individuals, Nandan is credited with providing intellectual leadership of the project as the series general editor of the work along with Shabtai Rosenne. The seven-volume book, which took 26 years to prepare, remains an indispensable account for any serious scholar or practioner of the subject.
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