Sep 2nd 2020

What will International Law be Like in a Post-Corona World?

by Abbas Poorhashemi

Dr. Abbas Poorhashemi is the President of the Canadian Institute for International Law Expertise (CIFILE). He is an International law expert. His teaching and research interests are in the areas of Public International Law, International Criminal Law and International Environmental Law. He has published many books and articles in each of these areas. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the CIFILE Journal of International Law (CJIL), Canada.

 

Emergence and spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 have created and still creating health issues, economic challenges, political crises and social conflicts around the world. These challenges and conflicts lead the international community to re-evaluate global governance and international structures, which is based on the second world-war and post-cold war. The pandemic will emerge a new era of international society that will not be similar to the pre-Corona world.

Threats to global peace and international security

The coronavirus pandemic could affect global peace and security. The risk of developing conflict between states stands varied in different regions of potential conflict zones, at a regional and global level. Furthermore, the coronavirus might increase the risk of armed conflicts between the major or minor powers such as the United States and China, India and Pakistan, North Korea, and South Korea. In these circumstances, the United Nations possesses a limited authority to manage uncertain global situations.

Multilateralism and international cooperation are essential to maintain peace and security, sustainable development and human rights in this ongoing situation. The commitment to the peaceful settlement of international disputes is the fundamental principles of the Charter of the United Nations. However, the existing world order is changing. Based on this projection, can we predict the pandemic will transform the world into a new global order?

Economic confrontations

The pandemic will also affect the global economic system, both at the level of production, distribution and in the daily economic life of humans. Living and working conditions could experience significant disruptions, and agricultural production could be affected by this disease. It reveals certain deficiencies and weaknesses in the global economic system. The current world economy based on the free market is changing in an uncertain situation that increased competition between states. Confrontation is playing an increasing role in international relations between countries. The multiplication of unilateral protectionist measures and their extension to the field of high technology and new technology, economic sanctions, disagreements on international organizations could be only some examples of economic confrontations.

Increase international pressure for judicial action

Under the immense human and economic loss caused by the pandemic, some individuals and countries are willing to file lawsuits or complaints against China or other countries. In the current state of international law, the Claimant State or individual required to prove negligence, violation, or breach of an international obligation to receive any compensation from the defendant state. According to the fundamental principles of international law, violation of state international obligations or commission of any internationally wrongful act engages its international responsibility. Thus, the claimant states or individuals should prove that China or other countries have violated their international obligations.[ii] In this case, the potential legal action against each other could be additional competition between States. The Charter of the United Nations of 1945 invites States to settle their international disputes by using peaceful means, including arbitration and judicial settlement (Article 33)[iii]. However, the International justice system seems confronted with several limitations and efficiencies.

The inefficiency of international organizations to solve global crises

Dealing with global challenges requires global participation and cooperation. The world after pandemic will raise the interest of the debates regarding the reform of the functioning of international institutions such as the United Nations and, more specifically, the Security Council. The current composition of the Security Council would no longer reflect contemporary international society. The right to veto and the formation of permanent members require providing a solution for the functioning of the council and the maintenance of international peace and security.

Global Health issues

The pandemic proves that health issue has no borders, and international health has become "global health." Based on this fact, countries and international institutions can no longer view health as a border issue, as they often did in the past-pandemic. The rapid development of communication across national borders through travel and trade has facilitated the transmission of diseases from country to country. In this context, can we expect the emergence and development of International Health Law as a new branch of international law?

Also, the widespread of the disease, both in rich and developing countries have shown that the World Health Organization[iv] leadership had failed to manage the growing threat in the world. Some states have declared the ineffectiveness of the WHO explicitly at the time of the global crises.

The emergence of new actors in global governance

The international crisis management regarding the pandemic led to the emergence of new actors in international law, which now plays a more prominent role globally and in multi-actor and multilevel governance in the world. In such a situation, some developing countries are willing to possess more authority and positions in global governance.

In this context, both developed and developing countries should continue to foster multilateral collaboration and cooperation to reduce the risks to peace, security and other health challenges causing by COVID-19.

Importance of environmental protection

The coronavirus and biodiversity protection are linked closely. According to some reliable scientists' reports, the Covid-19 disease started from the Wuhan (China)[v] seafood market, where wild animals, including marmots, birds, rabbits, bats and snakes, are traded illegally. Some of the scientists believed that the new coronaviruses' genetic is almost identical to the one found in bats. Environmental protection, specifically, biodiversity protection, is related directly to the pandemic.

In this context, international society should continue to contribute their efforts to address the ongoing challenges to protect biodiversity, illegal wildlife trade, waste management and climate change.

The roles of new technologies in international law

Social distancing and working remotely are supporting to determine how social media and virtual communications are crucial for humanity. Existing international law based on the traditional approach will transform into a new form of law based on new technologies and virtual life. International organizations are working to develop a new paradigm to create a new workspace for their employees and clients. In this context, new technologies change not only international legal institutions but also international actors' behaviours and communications.

Finally, the global coronavirus pandemic, which has already caused unimaginable devastation and hardship to the international community, has brought our pathway of life to an almost complete halt. The outbreak had and will have profound and lasting economic, political and social consequences in every corner of the globe. International law as a body of law that governs relations between states, international organizations and private persons in a global framework, exposing its vulnerabilities no one aware of their existences, which means international law would not be like before.

International law to maintain its effectiveness must show its capability of adapting new reform based on the democratization of international institutions to empower the decision-making powers, simplify structures and improve transparency.


[i] Dr. Abbas Poorhashemi is the President of the Canadian Institute for International Law Expertise (CIFILE). He is an International law expert. His teaching and research interests are in the areas of Public International Law, International Criminal Law and International Environmental Law. He has published many books and articles in each of these areas. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the CIFILE Journal of International Law (CJIL), Canada.

 

[ii] Dr. Abbas Poorhashemi, Can China Be Sued under International Law for COVID-19?, JURIST – Professional Commentary, May 21, 2020, https://www.jurist.org/commentary/2020/05/abbas-poorhashemi-lawsuits-china-covid19/.

[iii] Charter of the United Nations, https://www.un.org/en/charter-united-nations/

[iv] World Health Organization, https://www.who.int/


[i] Dr. Abbas Poorhashemi is the President of the Canadian Institute for International Law Expertise (CIFILE). He is an International law expert. His teaching and research interests are in the areas of Public International Law, International Criminal Law and International Environmental Law. He has published many books and articles in each of these areas. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the CIFILE Journal of International Law (CJIL), Canada.

 

[ii] Dr. Abbas Poorhashemi, Can China Be Sued under International Law for COVID-19?, JURIST – Professional Commentary, May 21, 2020, https://www.jurist.org/commentary/2020/05/abbas-poorhashemi-lawsuits-china-covid19/.

[iii] Charter of the United Nations, https://www.un.org/en/charter-united-nations/

[iv] World Health Organization, https://www.who.int/

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Oct 27th 2020
EXTRACT: "China’s approach today is similar: first, insulate its citizens from a virulent pathogenic contagion with draconian public-health measures aimed at containing and mitigating the spread of the disease, and then – and only then – make judicious use of monetary and fiscal policy to reinforce the post-lockdown snapback. This is very different from the approach taken in the US, where the post-lockdown debate is more about using monetary and fiscal policies as front-line instruments of economic liberation, rather than relying on disciplined public-health measures aimed at virus containment........ This underscores the sharp contrast between China’s COVID-first strategy and the America-first approach of US President Donald Trump’s administration. In China, unlike the US, there is no political and public resistance to masks, social distancing, and aggressive testing as requisite norms of the COVID-19 era. Meanwhile, the US is in the midst of its third serious wave of infection while China continues to exercise prompt and effective control over new outbreaks. Earlier this autumn, for example, some nine million citizens in Qingdao were tested in just five days after a relatively small outbreak affecting fewer than 20 residents. By contrast, Trump wears his own experience with COVID-19 infection as some perverse badge of courage, rather than as a warning of what may lie ahead."
Oct 20th 2020
EXTRACTS: Disney has announced a significant restructuring of its media and entertainment business, boldly placing most of its growth ambitions and investments into its recently launched streaming service, Disney+…. From a corporate strategy perspective, the move is remarkable on two fronts. Firstly, the sheer velocity of this pivot for a company the size and age of Disney is, for lack of a better word, unprecedented….Let’s not forget that it was just last year that Disney held a near 40% revenue share of the US box office….. The fact that in just seven months of the pandemic breaking out, Disney decided to reinvent itself primarily around streaming speaks volumes about its expectations regarding the pandemic length. Clearly the group decided that waiting it out was no longer an option.”
Oct 10th 2020
EXTRACTS: "Strange as it is to say, but it is no longer uncommon to hear talk of insurrection, martial law, and civil war in the United States......... Apocalyptic warnings that next month’s election will descend into crisis are coming hard and fast....... While the atmosphere in the US is already alarming, it is worth considering just how bad things could become. There is ample reason to worry that an election-related conflict could devolve into atrocity crimes against black and brown civilians on US soil........ Genocide and mass atrocities have happened all too often, including in America. The question is not whether it could happen here, but whether it can be prevented."
Oct 9th 2020
EXTRACT: "Fifty years ago, Milton Friedman published an article in the New York Times that articulated what has come to be known as the Friedman doctrine: “the social responsibility of business is to increase its profits.” It was a theme he had developed in his 1962 book Capitalism and Freedom, where he argued that the “one and only” responsibility business owes to society is the pursuit of profits within the legal rules of the game. The Friedman doctrine put its stamp on our era. It legitimized the freewheeling capitalism that produced economic insecurity, fueled rising inequality, deepened regional divides, and intensified climate change and other environmental problems. Ultimately, it also led to a social and political backlash. Many large businesses have responded by engaging in – or paying lip service to – the notion of corporate social responsibility."
Oct 7th 2020
EXTRACT: "China is well on its way to becoming a cashless society. More than 600 million Chinese already use Alibaba’s Alipay and Tencent’s WeChat Pay to pay for much of what they purchase. Between them, the two companies control approximately 90% of China’s mobile payments market, which totaled some $17 trillion in 2019. A wide variety of sectors throughout China have since adopted Blockchain to pay bills, settle disputes in court and track shipments. The Chinese government understands that, via Blockchain, the issuance of its own cryptocurrency is an excellent way to track and record the movement of payments, goods and people."
Oct 6th 2020
EXTRACT: "The American Republic was founded by Protestants, and American elites were for a long time largely Protestant........But something extraordinary has happened since the republic was founded by Protestants in 1776. Five of the eight current Supreme Court justices are Catholics, and soon there may be six. The one Protestant on the court, Neil Gorsuch, was raised Catholic. (The other two justices are Jewish.) Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representatives, is Catholic, as is the US attorney general, William Barr. And Joe Biden, who might be the next president, is Catholic, too."
Oct 5th 2020
EXTRACT: "...... the economic pain inflicted by COVID-19 is not being borne by publicly traded companies. It is falling on small businesses and individual service proprietors – from dry cleaners to restaurants to entertainment providers – that are not listed on the stock market (which leans more toward manufacturing). These smaller players simply do not have the capital needed to survive a shock of this duration and magnitude. And government programs that have helped keep them afloat for a while are beginning to lapse, raising the risk of a snowball effect in the event of a second wave."
Oct 4th 2020
EXTRACT: "Trump’s disinclination – and perhaps inability – to reach beyond his right-wing base, which is insufficient to elect him, also calls into question his political acumen, and is one of many reasons to doubt his basic intelligence (an issue on which he is quite sensitive). But one thing about the president is now clearer than ever: in order to perpetuate his hold on power, Trump is testing the constitution in unprecedented ways. "
Sep 30th 2020
EXTRACT: "With the US presidential election barely a month away, former Vice President Joe Biden and his advisers are devising his national-security policy and creating shortlists to fill the cabinet’s ranking positions in the event that he defeats President Donald Trump. But while presidential hopefuls traditionally have focused first on contenders to run the state, defense, and treasury departments, this time is different. With the intelligence community in an increasingly perilous state, Biden should choose a top spymaster before making any other personnel decisions."
Sep 29th 2020
While today's mounting global disruptions have accelerated an ongoing shift in global power dynamics, neither China's rise nor the emergence of COVID-19 can be blamed for the West's lost primacy. The United States and the United Kingdom took care of that on their own, with a complacent Europe watching it happen.
Sep 28th 2020
EXTRACT: "One thing is clear: the world cannot trust Xi’s dictatorship. The sooner we recognize this and act together, the sooner the Beijing bullies will have to behave better. The world will be safer and more prosperous for it."
Sep 27th 2020
EXTRACT: "Four years of political turmoil under Trump may well end with massive violence akin to a civil war. Trump is priming his base to act violently, and with over 390 million firearms in the hands of Americans, one can only imagine the calamitous consequences if violence is to erupt between his supporters and those who oppose him..... The Republican leadership in every state and every municipality are the prime body that can stop this potential calamity from occurring. Time is of the essence. Should the Republican Party as a whole fall short of taking a stand against Trump at this juncture, they will subject the nation to turmoil unseen since the Civil War. Not a single Republican leader will be able to claim that he or she were not warned."
Sep 27th 2020
EXTRACT: "I continue to expect this broad dollar index to plunge by as much as 35% by the end of 2021. This reflects three considerations: rapid deterioration in US macroeconomic imbalances, the ascendancy of the euro and the renminbi as viable alternatives, and the end of that special aura of American exceptionalism that has given the dollar Teflon-like resilience for most of the post-World War II era."
Sep 26th 2020
EXTRACT: "Covid-19 essentially hit the “fast forward” button on emerging trends in a variety of sectors of national economies, hastening the demise of the shopping mall, laying bare how unnecessary being physically located in commercial work spaces is, and sounding the death knell for numerous 100+ year-old brands that had failed to adapt to the blistering pace of change in the digital economy. Failure to contemplate and embrace the future is leaving carnage in its wake.......The onslaught of dramatic change that has accompanied Covid-19 reminds us that fragile systems crack when exposed to unexpected events while antifragile systems have the ability to resist shocks."
Sep 24th 2020
EXTRACT: "China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, recently declared that aggression and expansionism have never been in the Chinese nation’s “genes.” It is almost astonishing that he managed to say it with a straight face. Aggression and expansionism obviously are not genetic traits, but they have defined President Xi Jinping’s tenure. Xi, who in some ways has taken up the expansionist mantle of Mao Zedong, is attempting to implement a modern version of the tributary system that Chinese emperors used to establish authority over vassal states: submit to the emperor, and reap the benefits of peace and trade with the empire."
Sep 16th 2020
EXTRACT: "Seventy-five years ago, the prestige of the United States and the United Kingdom could not have been higher. They had defeated imperial Japan and Nazi Germany, and they did so in the name of freedom and democracy. True, their ally, Stalin’s Soviet Union, had different ideas about these fine ideals, and did most of the fighting against Hitler’s Wehrmacht. Still, the English-speaking victors shaped the post-war order in large parts of the world. The basic principles of this order had been laid down in the Atlantic Charter, drawn up in 1941 by Winston Churchill and President Franklin D. Roosevelt on a battleship off the coast of Newfoundland."
Sep 14th 2020
EXTRACT: "After Trump’s inauguration in January of 2017, millions demonstrated their disapproval. We can expect the same, no matter how this election turns out. With both sides framing this election in “end of the world” terms; with the president calling into question the legitimacy of the vote, even before it happens; and with the president warning his supporters that they may have to take up arms to defend him – we have a recipe for disaster that may occur in the days that follow this election. This may very well be the Armageddon election of our lifetime."
Sep 8th 2020
EXTRACT: "The Huawei case is a harbinger of a world in which national security, privacy, and economics will interact in complicated ways. Global governance and multilateralism will often fail, for both good and bad reasons. The best we can expect is a regulatory patchwork, based on clear ground rules that help empower countries to pursue their core national interests without exporting their problems to others. Either we design this patchwork ourselves, or we will end up, willy-nilly, with a messy, less efficient, and more dangerous version."
Sep 7th 2020
EXTRACT: "China’s footprint in global foreign direct investment (FDI) has increased notably since the launch of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013. That served to bring Chinese overseas FDI closer to a level that one would expect, based on the country’s weight in the global economy. China accounted for about 12% of global cross-border mergers and acquisitions and 9% of announced greenfield FDI projects between 2013 and 2018. Chinese overseas FDI rose from $10 billion in 2005 (0.5% of Chinese GDP) to nearly $180 billion in 2017 (1.5% of GDP). Likewise, annual construction contracts awarded to Chinese companies increased from $10 billion in 2005 to more than $100 billion in 2017."
Sep 2nd 2020
EXTRACT: "Emergence and spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 have created and still creating health issues, economic challenges, political crises and social conflicts around the world. These challenges and conflicts lead the international community to re-evaluate global governance and international structures, which is based on the second world-war and post-cold war. The pandemic will emerge a new era of international society that will not be similar to the pre-Corona world."