Kampala Geopolitics Conference

Strong Together? Why and How the COVID-19 Pandemic Should Help Us Re-Imagine Subsidiarity and Solidarity for a Better World


COVID-19 has certainly taught us some lessons on governance: While fighting a global threat that does not
halt at artificial borders, most countries still favoured isolated approaches over unified action. For instance, when COVID-19 death tolls in Italy proliferated, many felt the EU member states didn’t live up to their pledge of solidarity. In the US, the Trump Administration’s inward-looking policies dismissed the spirit of global cooperation to fight the pandemic and announced the country’s withdrawal from the WHO. Globally, a rag rug of emergency responses was knitted. Despite existence of multilateral organisations like the WHO or the EU, joint undertakings have been rare. States feared to lose sovereignty and mistrusted the judgement of others.

This, however, puts to a test the relevance of international cooperation. Do and can multilateral organisations live
up to their purpose? How can international solidarity be safeguarded in times of crisis? And how much subsidiarity is healthy for a state’s or even a region’s unique needs? What role did the WHO play in containing the global spread of the Corona virus? What are our lessons learned to strengthen our resilience against global threats?