David Miliband on the Crisis

David Miliband on the Crisis

By David Runciman and Catherine Carr

We talk with David Miliband, head of the International Rescue Committee, about the impact of the pandemic on the world's poorest countries. What happens in places where social distancing is not possible? Plus we discuss the long-term implications of the crisis for the future global co-operation and global conflict. Is this the moment for social democracy? More details of the work of the IRC can be found here: https://www.rescue-uk.org/

Talking Points: 

By fluke or demography, the virus has not hit places such as the Middle East or sub-Saharan Africa yet in full force.

In places with rampant extreme poverty, the story will be different. It’s not a tradeoff between health and economic well-being in the same way. The crisis demonstrates the holes in the global safety net.

There are parts of the world where social distancing is impossible.

Population density heaps danger on insecurity.You’re only as strong as the weakest link in the chain—look at Singapore. They had the disease under control but it came back among migrant labour communities.

Right now, there is more myopia than global thinking.

Conversations about easing lockdowns are centered on what happens within the state, or maybe groups of states.There is a vacuum of global leadership.Is it possible to have institutions that can manage this kind of interconnectivity? 

The politics of the WHO are part of its problem.

How much executive power do you want to vest in international institutions?For legitimacy, they depend on the support of nation states, but for efficacy, they depend on their ability to stand independent of nation states.

Right now America is a flagship for dysfunction.

The frailties that have been exposed have big implications.In the UK, the so-called populist attack on elite or establishment institutions seems to have been reversed in this crisis. Not in the US. What does this say about social trust?

New inequalities in the service economy have been brought to the surface.

Holes in the global safety net have also been exposed.The scale of the economic response means that issues of economic security will probably remain present.

Mentioned in this Episode: 

David M. in The New Statesman Polling on coronavirus and decreased trust in the media

Further Learning: 

The IRC report on corona in vulnerable statesMore on privacy and coronavirus tracing appsCoronavirus in an age of inequality

And as ever, recommended reading curated by our friends at the LRB can be found here: lrb.co.uk/talking

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