Rayhan Ahmed Topader:
Coronavirus is far from over. Some countries are still dealing with large epidemics, but even those currently controlling the virus fear “the second wave.The lifestyle with which we were familiar with may become only a memory, as life is changing because of the coronavirus pandemic, but whether it will be changed forever depends on our coping strategy.
According to Henry Kissinger, the global pandemic will forever alter the world order.
Yet our world is changing with or without the pandemic. Even before the pandemic, the world was changing drastically it was replete with unilateralism, populism and inequality, which are arguably attributable to economic globalisation, neoliberalism and even the refugee crisis. However, the coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly exacerbated these issues. It has also created many new problems affecting life, society and the world.
We may be witnessing the end of globalism as we know it. Governments and people in many countries are shifting from globalism to isolationism, from multilateralism to unilateralism, from multiculturalism to racism. Ultimately, one of our most serious concerns might be that the world’s major powers may take a course that parallels that of the Weimar Republic a century ago.
However, in my view, the coronavirus pandemic is not the end of globalism; on the contrary, it offers a timely reminder of humanity’s interdependence in this changing world. As Kissinger argued in his 2014 book World Order, our age is insistently, at times almost desperately, in pursuit of a concept of world order. Chaos threatens side by side with unprecedented interdependence. If we look back into history and consider the global flu epidemic of 1918, we might have felt even more desperate and pessimistic in that situation than we do now. Across history, human beings have survived many pandemics, and this one should remind us, both at the micro level of individual life and the macro level of world order, of the importance of interdependence, of taking on this challenge together in this changing world.One of the most important ways in which the coronavirus pandemic is changing the world is through its impact on every aspect of the life of every individual in society, including the way we work, live and learn, from the macro economy to household income, and from social security to individual human rights. How will the world—and especially daily life-be different after this pandemic? Without question, life is greatly affected by the world economy, which is now in one of its darkest moments.
The current global recession may be the most serious economic crisis since World War II; it is far beyond the 2008 financial crisis and may be even comparable to the Great Depression of the United States in the 1930s. However, the pandemic has had substantial effects on much more than the economy; it has affected politics, society, culture, education, media, healthcare, security, science and technology, travel and personal lifestyle. It may be useful to explore the social and legal dimensions of the pandemic and its impact on daily life. All of the changes caused by the pandemic highlight the importance of human security and humanity’s interdependence. Normative consensus is necessary for the co-existence of all human beings in this changing world, and this should serve as a coping strategy in tackling the pandemic.The coronavirus pandemic is altering individual life. We cannot travel internationally or even locally, and we may not be able to dine in restaurants. As such, the service sector, especially travel-related industries, restaurants, airlines, hotels and tourist attractions, is seriously hurting. More than that, the pandemic is changing our social and work life in more complicated ways, especially the way we communicate in light of the development of information technology and communication.Human agency or autonomy is a capacity that is realized in communicative and social interaction, which gives shape to thought and feeling.
The Internet-based virtual community was already well developed before the pandemic, but the pandemic is making it even more powerful and indispensable. Social distancing requirements have led to more online communication not only in our social life but in our office work, as it has become necessary and cost-efficient. Increasing numbers of office workers have become telecommuters, and universities have moved their courses online. However, working and learning from home are not possible or enjoyable for everyone, as many people prefer the office environment, where they can interact and socialise with colleagues.The pandemic is also affecting doctor-patient communication, including the delivery and reception of healthcare and other services.The Internet of Things and artificial intelligence have made the remote delivery of telemedicine and other services more feasible.Thus, reliable and cost-efficient medical options are available at home without commuting to and waiting at medical clinics, freeing up hospital space and other medical resources for patients in need of intensive and critical care.The social, political and legal implications: Rethinking human rights in light of the pandemic and its impacts on our life. Mainly societal factors such as social inequality, discrimination and poverty; psychosocial problems generated by psychological stress related to the pandemic; and cultural norms.
Such as social acceptance of wearing masks, socialising and social distancing, all heavily influence population health, in combination with biological factors such as genetic make-up. All of these factors inform government performance during the pandemic and are created or exacerbated by the pandemic. It is already clear why some countries have done better than others in dealing with the crisis so far, and there is every reason to think those trends will continue. It is not a matter of regime type. Some democracies have performed well, but others have not, and the same is true for autocracies. The factors responsible for successful pandemic responses have been state capacity, social trust, and leadership. Countries with all three—a competent state apparatus, a government that citizens trust and listen to, and effective leaders-have performed impressively, limiting the damage they have suffered. Countries with dysfunctional states, polarized societies, or poor leadership have done badly. It has also been pointed out that human rights, laws, and legal practices are powerfully linked to health, and that the law operates as a pathway along which broader social determinants of health have an effect.Since the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus pandemic a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, it has had strong human rights implications and impacts on personal life.
Also life has been affected by government measures and legislation such as quarantines, lockdowns and travel bans. However, coronavirus-related human rights issues also relate to access to healthcare, access to information, freedom from racism and discrimination, freedom of expression, the rights of the elderly, the rights of people in custody and in institutions, personal protection equipment for health workers, the right to food, the right to education during the pandemic, the right to privacy and economic relief to affected people.The reason the pandemic has so many human rights implications is that the right to health, as set out in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, is closely related to and dependent upon the realisation of the other human rights.It is obviously a challenge for the government to balance our individual rights and the interests of society. However, it must also restrict and regulate misinformation and disinformation on social media, which causes concerns about limitations on freedom of expression.The coronavirus pandemic is changing many aspects of individual life-not only how we work, live and learn, but most importantly our perceptions and behaviour in this changing society and world.In summary, as we know very well, life is changing because of the coronavirus pandemic, but whether it will be changed forever depends on our coping strategy.The coronavirus pandemic in this changing world and for establishing a normative consensus towards a shared future for mankind.
Writer and Columnist