While the question of democracy and the rule of law in crisis has been around for quite some time, the misuse of personal data, the surge in fake news, extensive surveillance, and human rights violations amid COVID-19 have all further undermined faith in the democratic process and the idea of equality before the law.
While the sudden global shift to an online life has brought unprecedented changes to our social and work habits, it has also faced us with certain cybersecurity risks. Could the COVID-19 crisis lead to an increasingly insecure cyberworld?
The urgency of tackling climate change cannot be overstated. Bold action is desperately needed. Enter the role of digital technologies, touted as a panacea for addressing (all) the sustainable development goals (SDGs). Goal 13 specifies climate action. Back in the day, actions like ‘going paperless’ and ‘thinking before printing’ were popular calls to stir individual and collective environmental consciousness; we would save trees and the planet by switching to digital.
In our monthly WebDebate, which is organised in the context of the International Forum on Diplomatic Training (IFDT), we looked at Multilateral diplomacy in times of COVID-19. When we observe the responses to the COVID-19 crisis, we seem to encounter a paradox. On one hand, we have reports that shipments of masks and other key equipment are diverted from their destination countries.
If ever there was a time for governments to get their communications right, it is now. Governments everywhere are under scrutiny for what they say, how accurately they report facts, and what actions they are proposing. COVID-19 is spreading faster than press offices can get their messages out. Thanks to the Internet, the media and members of the public are posting stories which may not show governments in their best light. People need to know will they get sick, will they receive the treatments they need, and will they lose their jobs, their homes, their lives.
COVID-19 has stirred global diplomacy in a new direction. The European Council was the first major organisation to hold a video conferencing summit, in which they discussed how to co-ordinate the European response to the current crisis. The EU has also moved to e-mail voting, and, for the first time ever, the 15 member states of the UN Security Council unanimously adopted four resolutions via email.