Our international institutions are failing us (or are we failing them?)
Our international institutions seem to betray us. Look around:
Economists, analysts and other writers who have long looked to the World Bank’s Doing Business report for key data on country rankings recently learned that the numbers were manipulated. They were data irregularities, according to the World Bank. This is devastating news because his self-proclaimed mission is to “provide a wide range of financial and technical assistance products, and help countries share and apply innovative knowledge”. The worst part is that the person who would have supervised the manipulation of the ranking now heads the International Monetary Fund.
Then there is the new head of the World Trade Organization, who is widespread having already completed their work and threatening to resign due to the inability of the organization to move anything forward. The WTO mission is to deal with global rules of trade between nations. Its main function “is to ensure that trade takes place as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible”. Volunteer participants pledged to eliminate tariffs on high-tech products and increase the market access potential of government procurement, but the most pressing trade issues of the day – overfishing, intellectual property and online theft, and subsidies – seem beyond its reach.
Finally, there is Le World Health Organization. “Dedicated to the well-being of all and guided by science”, he seeks to lead and defend “the global efforts to give everyone, everywhere, an equal chance to live a healthy life”. Yet the organization appears unable to even complete an investigation into the origins of a virus that has toured the world, killed 4.55 million people (and it’s not over) and continues to cripple the economy. global.
But are the institutions themselves the problem?
An institution is made up of its members. And for this to work well, members need to be committed to the mission and share a level of trust among themselves. So perhaps the most honest approach is for members to look at themselves in the mirror when reviewing recent events.
Here’s more background on each:
The World Bank’s 18-year-old Doing Business report has been largely successful in providing detailed data on the ease of doing business in 190 countries. A recent report in its data scandal reveals that the problem was rooted in a desire to appease China, one of the development agency’s biggest members and donors.
The World Trade Organization has seen more than 30 new members join the Single Global Trade Regime, including China, Saudi Arabia, Russia and other countries that do not always aspire to lower trade barriers and greater transparency. WTO membership now covers 98 percent of world trade, and tariffs and other trade barriers between members have fallen since its inception in 1995. But Beijing’s continued use of subsidies is broad and deep and distorts world markets, but WTO rules may be too limited to provide a fix. So much so that the United States no longer sees the point of continuing with a dispute settlement system. Meanwhile, China’s intellectual property and cyber-theft practices – state-sponsored, no less – have led the United States to impose endless tariffs on Chinese imports.
Finally, the World Health Organization is credited with successful campaigns to combat or even eradicate smallpox, polio, Ebola, HIV-AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, among others. But its ability to study the most recent global communicable disease, Covid-19, has been hampered by China’s lack of cooperation, which is most regrettable given the growing scientific evidence that it is from that country. Instead of being a team player and joining other countries to learn the origins and how to prevent this from happening again, China took offense to the call for cooperation and hampered members’ ability to go forward.
China is obviously the common thread of these failures, but that is not really the subject here.
It does not matter where exactly the fault lies for our institutions. But they need their members to trust each other and cooperate to carry out their missions. Without this trust and cooperation, any institution is doomed to failure.
Maybe it’s time to remind ourselves what we expected from our institutions in the first place and ask ourselves if we still want these things, be it funding and research to end global poverty. , help countries establish rules to facilitate international trade or provide scientific work to promote global health and disease eradication. These goals were deemed worthy after World War II. Is it still worth continuing?
In a recent piece, my colleagues and I are exploring a new approach that involves unconventional and decentralized solutions. We write that when negotiations at the national level are ineffective, new avenues must be explored. Recently the world has witnessed the effectiveness of open source collective brainstorming on the origin of Covid-19. This effort led to the release of key findings that prompted President Biden to call for an investigation by the U.S. intelligence community.
Whether we remain committed to the goals of our predecessors or wish to revisit them, today’s geopolitical realities call for new ways of sharing information to rebuild trust and advance common interests.