26th July 2020
Paul Arthur Berkman
The Hague Journal of Diplomacy
Prof Paul Berkman is at the Science Diplomacy Center, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University
Science diplomacy is an international, interdisciplinary and inclusive (holistic) process, involving informed decisionmaking to balance national interests and common interests for the benefit of all on Earth across generations. Informed decisions operate across a ‘continuum of urgencies’, which extends from security to sustainability time scales for peoples, nations and our world. The COVID-19 pandemic is the ‘most challenging crisis we have faced since the Second World War’, as noted in March 2020 by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, when survival is once again a common interest at local-global levels. This essay introduces common-interest-building strategies with science diplomacy to operate short term to long term, before-through-after the ‘inflection point’ of our global pandemic, as the next step in the evolution of our globally interconnected civilisation.
1 Humanity across Generations
Science diplomacy is a language of hope for humanity, recognising we are living during a global pandemic as alarms are sounding about the vitality of our global order. To be sure, there are those who have doubts about the contributions of science diplomacy, and indeed circumstances are dire when leading nations abandon essential international institutions with ‘uninformed’ decisions, as illustrated profoundly with the World Health Organization during our global pandemic.
It may even seem preposterous to be thinking in terms of humanity when injustices are clearly evident, as resurfaced with ‘Black Lives Matter’, angering for fairness and civil rights across the world. Nonetheless, into this confusion, we all share a common interest in survival, revealed on a planetary scale with COVID-19 as the ‘most challenging crisis we have faced since the Second World War’.