A report from the Valdai Club, a think tank based in Moscow and closely affiliated with the Russian Government, has highlighted the failure of supranational institutions following the COVID-19 crisis.

In the view of the authors, the pandemic has demonstrated that only sovereign states are capable of taking the effective action needed to address the crisis, and remain “the only institution capable of acting in an organised and efficient manner“:

… The illusion that the state may disappear from world politics, giving way to trans-boundary supranational entities, has finally been dispelled.

The role of the state is also increasing in the economy – in the dispute between public and market interest, the balance is shifting towards the former. Timely responses to non-economic shocks, which are provided by the state and not by the market, are becoming an important economic indicator.”

It goes on to point out that a number of international institutions proved to be “irrelevant” and that the only relations that mattered were bilateral ones between states. The solidarity of the European Union was shown to be an illusion as every nation went about addressing the crisis in its own manner.

The report also proclaims the end of the “liberal world order”, a period that ran from the mid 1980s to the mid 2010s. It sees various futures for the world following the pandemic, the most insidious of which it views as a form of “international political Darwinism”. The more likely outcomes are a growing anarchy (between states, not within them) and a new bipolarity between China and the United States. So much for the inevitability of multipolarity…

Having determined that states are the natural and effective means of governing peoples, the authors make the odd conclusion that there is a need for a beefed-up role for the World Health Organization, and the United Nations, more generally. While this makes sense inasmuch as states are the primary actors within these organisations, it doesn’t make sense that the WHO should be rewarded for its failures over the outbreak with increased funding. It seems that the WHO has managed to have a catastrophically negative impact both on international relations and global health security.

Of more relevance to relations between Russia and the West is this: having senior Russian analysts state their concerns about the rising bipolar global order suggests that Russia has increasing reservations about being condemned to a bit-part role on the Chinese side of a new Cold War.

In light of this situation, Western nations should look to normalise relations with Russia as rapidly as possible, while not abandoning their commitments to security cooperation with Eastern European partners.

It should also acknowledge the truth in the authors’ belief that a one-size-fits-all approach to political governance is an outdated notion, and give further attention to the idea of ethical pluralism.

Link to the Report: https://valdaiclub.com/files/30052/

Picture by Kremlin.ru / CC BY.

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