scroll to top

EBSCO Auth Banner

Let's find your institution. Click here.

Why the COVID-19 response needs International Relations.

  • Academic Journal
  • International affairs [Int Aff] 2020 Sep 01; Vol. 96 (5), pp. 1227-1251. Date of Electronic Publication: 2020 Sep 01 (Print Publication: 2020).
  • English
  • The COVID-19 pandemic affects all countries, but how governments respond is dictated by politics. Amid this, the World Health Organization (WHO) has tried to coordinate advice to states and offer ongoing management of the outbreak. Given the political drivers of COVID-19, we argue this is an important moment to advance International Relations knowledge as a necessary and distinctive method for inclusion in the WHO repertoire of knowledge inputs for epidemic control. Historical efforts to assert technical expertise over politics is redundant and outdated: the WHO has always been politicized by member states. We suggest WHO needs to embrace the politics and engage foreign policy and diplomatic expertise. We suggest practical examples of the entry points where International Relations methods can inform public health decision-making and technical policy coordination. We write this as a primer for those working in response to COVID-19 in WHO, multilateral organizations, donor financing departments, governments and international non-governmental organizations, to embrace political analysis rather than shy away from it. Coordinated political cooperation is vital to overcome COVID-19.
    (© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Royal Institute of International Affairs. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:
Additional Information
Publisher: The Royal Institute of International Affairs Country of Publication: England NLM ID: 100968191 Publication Model: eCollection Cited Medium: Print ISSN: 0020-5850 (Print) Linking ISSN: 00205850 NLM ISO Abbreviation: Int Aff Subsets: PubMed not MEDLINE
Original Publication: London, The Royal Institute of International Affairs.
Keywords: Covid-19; International Relations; World Health Organization; diplomacy; human rights; sovereignty
Date Created: 20210630 Latest Revision: 20210630