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Will Global Governance Prove Itself?

Although institutions of international and regional integration have chalked up major successes in recent decades, they are hardly immune from internal and external challenges. In fact, both the health emergency and the looming debt crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic will test these structures like never before.

LOMÉ/BASEL – COVID-19 poses the greatest threat yet to the systems of international integration instituted during the twentieth century. As with the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, the lethality and contagiousness of the coronavirus has prompted a return to hard national borders and other barriers.

Historically, the crises that have led to deeper integration have been military in nature, owing to the recognition that regional exchange is conducive to peace and prosperity. Under these conditions, most countries will have no interest in going to war with a neighbor, because doing so would almost certainly hurt their own citizens’ socioeconomic wellbeing.

When the Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union in 2012, it recognized the bloc for “over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.” Over this period, the European project ensured peace by accelerating economic integration, starting with the joint production of coal and steel.

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