International orders seldom change in noticeable ways. Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, the Pax Romana was not a passing phase: it persisted for centuries. The order that arose from the 1815 Congress of Vienna didn’t fully unravel until the outbreak of World War I in 1914.
But at rare moments, confidence in the old order collapses and humanity is left with a vacuum. It is during these times that new orders are born—that new norms, treaties and institutions arise to define how countries interact with each other and how individuals interact with the world.
As the most far-reaching global disruption since World War II, the coronavirus pandemic is such a moment. The post-1945 world order has ceased to function. Under a healthy order, we would expect at least good faith attempts at international coordination to confront a virus that knows no borders. Yet the United Nations has gone missing, the World Health Organization has become a political football and borders have closed not only between countries but even within the European Union. Habits of cooperation that took decades to entrench are dissolving.
Read the full article in POLITICO Magazine.
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