Regional Responses to COVID-19: The Role of Intergovernmental Organisations in Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East
den Boer, Hannah
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There have been responses to the COVID-19 pandemic across multiple levels of governance from very local, community-based initiatives to international coordination by the WHO. While there has been significant analysis of the state-level and international level response, there has been less comprehensive coverage of regional responses. However, regional intergovernmental organisations are a crucial level of governance when addressing crossborder threats and challenges from violent conflict to climate change. These organisations can complement domestic policy actions as well as provide a collective voice on the international stage to advocate for region-specific concerns. This report addresses regional responses to the COVID-19 outbreak, drawing from collected data on declarations by regional organisations in three regions in response to the disease. It sets out the responses of regional organisations in Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East to the COVID-19 crisis. As this comparative report will demonstrate, regional responses to the COVID-19 pandemic are varied. Regional efforts have frequently entailed collective measures, such as pooled procurement mechanisms for medical supplies, data collection, and the creation of central funds to aid in the financial resources required for an effective response to the crisis. However, each region has tried to address ongoing regional concerns within the wider scope of its COVID-19 response. For example, OAS has responded along each of its four pillars – democracy, human rights, development, and security. It has continued to pay close attention to democratic principles as core drivers to guide its pandemic response. The AU has similarly embraced a wide scope for its response to the pandemic by dealing with its socio-economic impacts and its potential to exacerbate violent conflict and social stability. Its approach has also been very active in addressing structural inequalities within the international system. The AU has negotiated on debt relief and wider access to vaccines and medical supplies in the context of its response to COVID-19. Finally, OIC has drawn on religious leaders and redistributed large pooled funds across the region, including to least developed countries (LDCs) to respond to the pandemic.