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COVID-19: Politics in a Pandemic

Rubble in front of a wall/fence with graffiti reading "V+XO Peace + Love". Over the fence, three different wall structure prototypes are visible.

Joe Biden’s presidential victory has brought temporary relief for many undocumented and mixed-status families in the US. Biden promised to reverse several of Trump’s executive orders on immigration and refugee policy within his first 100 days in office including reinstating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, ending the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) also known as “Remain in Mexico,” and creating a “road map” to citizenship for the approximate 10.5 million undocumented immigrants in the US. While Biden’s immigration agenda contains federal and local level priorities, little emphasis has yet been placed on the bilateral scale with the US’s southern neighbour, Mexico. Yet, bilateral immigration negotiations should be a priority for administrations on both sides of the border. In …

Italy was the first Western democracy to impose a country-wide lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite successfully curbing the number of infections in the first half of 2020, Italy saw its cases increase again in October, prompting Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and local governments to announce new restrictions to curb the cresting second wave. Despite the clear memory of the significant death toll and warnings of the dangerous winter to come, however, these announcements have been met with opposition. On the evening of the 23rd October, thousands gathered in the streets of Naples to protest against the forced closure of shops and restaurants and the threat of a local lockdown. A group of about 300 people—including youth, extremist political groups, and football hooligans—escalated into a violent protest, attacking police officers, burning cars, and vandalizing private …

As the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic unfold, the most severe casualties of “The Great Lockdown” are resource-dependent economies with limited institutional capacity to respond to the crisis. Their supply chains have been cut off, their markets are disrupted, and their investors are crowding out. Many of these countries have high external debt and an obligation to repay it in the medium term or they will face the trilemma of registering a double-digit growth, accruing further debt, or defaulting. Come 2021, Mongolia, a superlatively resource-dependent economy, will be at the center of this trilemma. The immediate cause of Mongolia’s current state is its inconsistent fiscal expenditure and its undiversified mining economy. Over the years, fiscal mismanagement of the previous …

In 2020, lockdowns around the world have reduced energy use and carbon emissions on an unprecedented scale. However, the current COVID-19 outbreak may be a double-edged sword in the fight against climate change.  Individual countries are imminently due to report their carbon reductions, as outlined in the United Nations-brokered Paris Agreement. Although pre-Coronavirus crisis global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are expected have grown by 1.9%, recent CO₂ calculations in Europe are predicting a surprising scenario: countries may actually hit their stated reduction goals. For instance, the German climate target for 2020, which until February was considered unattainable, should now be met. Due to this year’s mild winter, and, above all, the Coronavirus crisis, the target of 40% CO₂ savings—unlike climate change targets …

The Indian Government’s initial response to Covid-19—a stringent nationwide lockdown which commenced with an intimation period of only “four hours”—was hailed by the World Health Organisation as “timely and tough.” However, this international acclaim overlooked the disastrous result of the rushed lockdown on India’s migrant workforce. For them, the restrictions imposed by the lockdown has endangered their access to healthcare, housing, food and social security, which has further pushed their lives in precarity. Immediate action is needed from the Central Government to tend to their current needs and provide them with long-term economic stability. Statistics of Migrant Labour in India  As per the census of 2011, India has approximately 453.6 million internal migrants. From this, the migrant workforce is estimated to be around 100 million. The Economic Survey of 2017 estimated …

While Covid-19 has spurred debate about the need to elevate public health as a security concern, the securitisation of health presents both opportunities and trade-offs that need to be considered if we are to reallocate military spending to prepare for the next pandemic.  The devastating toll of the Coronavirus pandemic has ignited a debate about the intersection of public health and national security. Once recognised as global leaders in pandemic preparedness, the United States and the United Kingdom have struggled to integrate policy responses to Covid-19 into existing security frameworks and to allocate resources accordingly. Indeed, public health spending in both countries pales in comparison to spending on counter-terrorism, even though more American lives have been lost to the pandemic than in all US wars since World War II and the number of Covid-19 deaths in the UK far exceed those attributed to terrorism in the last 50 years. Consequently, some academics and policymakers have questioned whether the prevailing notion of national security—a state’s capacity to defend its territory and …

While the current lockdown in Pakistan has had a detrimental effect on livelihoods across the country, its impact on transgender communities has been particularly devastating. Covid-19 has revealed a troubling picture of transgender people’s social exclusion, marked by high poverty rates, a lack of social security programmes, and structural discrimination. Over the past years, there have been steps in the right direction towards recognizing Pakistan’s transgender community—most notably a 2009 Supreme Court judgement calling for the registration of transgender people as a ‘third gender’ and the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, passed by Parliament in 2018. However, neither measure has been widely enforced. Pakistan needs transformative, equitable policies to ensure equal access to basic public services for its transgender communities, who are currently in a dire situation. Covid-19 provides …

Even after achieving independence, Belarus is still known as the most ‘Russianised’ of the post-Soviet countries. Its unique retention of Soviet structures even after the breakdown of the USSR demonstrates the lack of cohesive state identity in the country. This has allowed Alexander Lukashenko, the country’s first and only president to date, to concentrate more and more power in his own hands. This article argues that Belarus’ crisis of state identity has enabled Lukashenko’s populist and, subsequently, authoritarian nature. Further, the lack of state identity has allowed him to neglect the severity of the Coronavirus pandemic. Belarus’s independence in the post-Cold War era was not a result of a long struggle, which hampered the formation of national identity. In 1991, …