COVID-19 has exacerbated factors influencing international support for peacebuilding, including a more volatile geopolitical order and changes in domestic priorities in donor countries. Peacebuilding and a conflict-sensitive approach have not yet been at the forefront of the international responses to COVID-19, undermining attempts to ‘build back better’ in a world where negative conflict dynamics are increasingly apparent.
This year was supposed to be crucial for Africa-Europe relations, culminating in the sixth AU-EU Summit, scheduled for 28 and 29 October in Brussels. But then COVID-19 happened. After a long palaver, a decision was finally taken: the summit will be postponed to 2021, although a date still needs to be fixed. Geert Laporte explains why postponing may not be such a bad thing.
Financial access in Africa has been on the rise in the last decade. It has a critical role to play in increasing the resilience of households and supporting their livelihoods. Maintaining this role is vital to tackle welfare and income losses stemming from the Covid-19-sparked economic crisis.
Governments in the Middle East and in North Africa (MENA) are tackling the pandemic in different ways, many challenged by weak social systems and growing societal frustrations. In relatively prosperous (middle-income) countries – such as Lebanon, Egypt and Iraq – leaders have used the pandemic as an excuse to suppress justified protests at their lack of accountability and failure to provide basic services. For international cooperation, which supports the functioning of legitimate, accountable governments and resilient societies, this poses a critical challenge – as the case of Lebanon currently illuminates.
The global Covid-19 pandemic has had an enormous impact on trade across the world. Value chains and trade have slowed down, or even been brought to a halt, via several channels. This paper investigates the impacts of the pandemic on trade and value chains in Africa, with a special focus on Ethiopia and Kenya. It also makes specific policy recommendations regarding the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement in the light of Covid-19.
COVID-19 has led governments across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to take a number of measures to battle the pandemic. Many of these actions directly related to religious practices such as the cancelation of the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, closing down mosques and amending the call to prayer from the usual “hayya alas-salah” or “come to prayer” to “salu fi buyutikum” or “pray in your homes”.
In the context of a global crisis, access to reliable information is more important than ever. Limiting free speech and press freedoms can impede accurate understanding and hence mitigation of the crisis. Beyond COVID, freedom of the press and expression are foundations of any functioning democracy.
Populism has revealed one of its weaknesses, by displaying particularly ineffective crisis management. However, it is not clear that populism will be politically unsuccessful in the post-corona future. The ability of populists to mobilise supporters, to concentrate powers and to spread a narrative of the crisis aligned with their nationalist and authoritarian ideology should not be underestimated. They could show resilience by relying on a broader anti-globalist narrative, conspiracy theories and polarization.
While the 2008/2009 global economic crisis had many negative consequences, one positive effect was that it massively accelerated international cooperation on tax matters. This is the kind of impetus that we also need for tackling the Covid-19 pandemic. The focus is not on generating more revenues, but rather primarily on achieving greater equity in the way that revenues are generated. This requires more public discussion of fair taxation. After all, the way that resources are mobilised and deployed to tackle the crisis will also have an impact on state legitimacy and social cohesion.
The management of the coronavirus pandemic has been considerably impaired by a dearth of essential medical and pharmaceutical products. Disruptions in supply chains for healthcare goods have caused shortages and tight inventories. The reliance of many countries, particularly in Europe and Africa, on products imported from a few international suppliers is largely the result of the process of globalisation in the past decades. In conjunction with the lack of preparedness of health and civil protection systems, interdependencies in healthcare sectors, notably between Europe and Asia, made them vulnerable to a crisis affecting both exporters and importers.