IRNA conducts a detailed survey over impact of coronavirus on int'l developments

Tehran, April 3, IRNA – The outbreak of coronavirus has violently shaken the international structures and clearly showed the weaknesses of the international system in fighting a universal phenomenon. The virus showed that no country should consider itself superior to others in this global village.

The outbreak has changed to an international challenge and a pandemic for all. It started three months ago in China but has ever since changed into an issue for all countries.

More people lose their lives day by day and governments have adopted more restrictions and quarantined more cities; stock market indexes nosedived; companies, offices, and factories shut down one after another; and the international transportation system has virtually stopped working.

Several crises have been seen around the world in the past decades, but none have been able to engage all continents and countries.

IRNA have interviewed 10 experts in political sciences about the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on international development. You can read the gist below:

** Majid Tafreshi, analyst of international politics

When speaking about the effects of the virus on international developments, one should have in mind that the issue has both short, medium and long term impacts together with national, regional, and international dimensions.

The short-term issue is actually individual health, public sanitation and saving people. But in year, the effects of the pandemic will appear in economic, social, political, and even cultural issues.

The virus helped people outcry their public demands from their governments globally and also remarkably limited corruption and partisan approaches.

In larger scales, i.e. regional and international, things are the same. The United States that was trying to instill that its fate is separate from others became the first suffering soaring number of infection cases in a short run. 

I think coronavirus had deeper impacts on the US than 9/11 attacks did. All powers were made to have second thoughts about their expenditures on military, war, and nuclear issues and focus on renovation of their health and ailing or bankrupt economies.

Being more vulnerable, small and medium-sized businesses suffered more than big ones. Several may even go bankrupt. There are some ways to deal with this problem.

One way is that people and governments write off the companies’ debts, which in turn will bring about crisis or bankruptcy for insurance and credit organizations. In such a situation, governments will turn to creating more credits and printing money, which will cause high inflation throughout the world. Then governments will have to put aside their unnecessary ambitious projects, like the ones in military.

In Europe, two things may occur. Countries may unite more to fight the problems caused by virus, or they may think that if they were able to paddle just their own canoes, instead of paying for poorer countries, they would be more successful. Either of the approaches may catch on. Germany and France seem to have important roles in this regard.

** Jahangir Karami, professor of Russian Studies, University of Tehran

It is too soon to talk about the results of the coronavirus outbreak on the world. We need to wait and see range of spread of the virus and the number of casualties in each country.

In the first four months of the outbreak, the conditions are as follows:

1. Taking into consideration the extra-territoriality of the non-military threats and their destructive effects on the heath of nations, which will naturally increase more international cooperation.

2. Strengthening the concept of government and national sovereignty and international borders to support the people, and people’s attention to their health and security, which will naturally affect globalization adversely. The length of the negative effect depends on the future of the disease in the coming months.

3. Parallel to the reinforcing the role of the governments and importance of nationalism and weakening of globalization, the dimensions of intentional cooperation may decrease in proportion with the dimensions of competitions.

4. International norms and structures will have developments in politics, economy, and security. Countries may try to become more self-sufficient and independent, which will have more consequences in the long run.

5. The role of big powers, like the US and China, and regional powers, will be redefined. If things go on as they are, China’s stance will be strengthened more than the US.

The above-mentioned opinions are based on the ongoing conditions and their short-term perspective, which may change depending on the spread of the virus and countries reactions.

** Kourosh Ahmadi, former diplomat in the UN (Geneva and New York)

The economic consequences are clear. 3.3 million people lost their jobs in the week before March 21. All countries experienced

almost the same situation.

In the medium run, according to United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), foreign investment on which many developing countries depend on has decrease by 5 to 15%. About 5,000 international companies have lost 9% of their revenue and are reconsidering their programs for 2020. Oil companies based in developing countries will lose 16% of their income. Car factories will lose 44%, aviation industries 42%, energy 13%, etc.

Though some of the laid-off workers will go back to their jobs, returning to normal conditions will be along with structural reconsideration and development of protectionism.

Coronavirus crisis will have long-term, political structures may experience some changes in countries that were not successful in crisis management.

Globalization will definitely be hurt too. Nationalists and populists will benefit from the situation. As the first wave of globalization became sterile by Spanish flu pandemic, coronavirus may harm the third wave deeply.  

As the Black Death killed 50 million people, weakened the church and accelerated the Renaissance, coronavirus can bring about new behaviors and beliefs.

** Ali Vaez, director of Crisis Group's Iran Project

"I believe that the fast growth of pandemic showed that globalization is an undeniable and unchangeable fact. But global leadership is insufficient. The UN Security Council is in a dead end; the World Health Organization is weak; and the International Monetary Fund is politicized. The virus will be an end for populism because it showed the value of experts.

** Ali-Reza Miryousefi, head of Media office of Iranian Mission to the UN, New York

It is too soon to talk about the consequences of the coronavirus outbreak because we are half-way through it. And the situation may drastically change.

However, assuming that the crisis will be controlled in a few months and focusing on the economic consequences, we can make some speculations.

Current literature says that in the post-coronavirus era, nationalism will be strengthened; liberalism will be weakened; the US fall will be accelerated; the world will have new poles and China will further rise; more countries will be bankrupt; oil and energy prices will stay low; distant working and on-line shopping will increase. 

The crisis in the US economy which was predicted in the past two years happened though US President Donald Trump was trying to postpone it until after the 2020 elections.

Based on the aforementioned hypotheses and the economic crises of 1929 and 2008, there will be a power change. Countries that are flexible and have many-sided human and social structures will benefit. China and some other new East Asian countries will be the new poles of the post-coronavirus era.

Regarding the US, it seems that it will reduce hegemonic presence in different parts of the world and will take up a more defensive stance, especially in the Middle East. Also, its capability for imposing its will through sanctions and pressure will weaken.

** Diako Hosseini, director of the World Studies Program at the Center for Strategic Studies, Tehran

It is too early to predict the influences of the coronavirus outbreak. The depth of the influence depends of how long it goes on.

The world has already lost several trillions of dollars and relative depression is taking place. There is competition and those who can control the virus sooner can have a better stance.

The crisis both shows the necessity of international cooperation and may strengthen nationalism and anti-migration policies. Also success or defeat of authoritarian and liberal-democrat systems will become a yard stick for judging their fate.

Liberal democrat systems of the US, Italy, and Spain have acted disastrously in the crisis. But Singapore and South Korea, two other liberal democrat systems have acted much better.  

** Shireen Hunter, Research Professor at the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University in Washington DC

The consequences of the outbreak will go on for a while. The nature of the impact depends on the behavior of the countries. If they behave selfishly, the rift will deepen. So far, insufficient aid to Italy and Spain from other European countries has weakened the European Union. If countries are unable to trust their allies, nationalism will rise and globalization will weaken.

** Hossein Valeh, Professor of Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran

The consequences of the coronavirus pandemic are many-sided. Economically speaking, it will result in lower GDP, higher debts, and increase in inflation. If in the coming six months a vaccine or medicine is not made for the disease, economic conditions in many countries will become critical, even in the industrialized world. The later the medicine is made, the worse the crisis will be.

Culturally speaking, new frameworks of social relations will emerge and bring about new values with them. Physical contacts, as symbols of closeness, will lose color and voice and pictures will replace them. Fear of unemployment and poverty, as well as depression and unemployment will intensify the social reactions and may end in a change in face of the government in the developed countries.

** Nader Entessar, professor at Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice, University of South Alabama

Most probably the negative effects of the pandemic will be around for a while. But a drastic change in the structure of the political system of the world should not be expected. However, COVID-19 outbreak proved that the US is not the power giant previously imagined.

** Nosratollah Tajik, Iran’s former ambassador to Jordan

Most of the depicted possible futures after the coronavirus outbreak are dark. But they are all proposed assuming that the international relations are static, which is not the case.

The outbreak was because of the vastness of relations, which show that the world cannot be run like isolated islands. They also say that countries may move toward nationalism, but coronavirus showed that the countries cannot be run with unilateralism.

The effects of the outbreak prove that a new form of multilateralism conducted by NGOs should be established. 


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