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In what is probably the most consequential event of the 21st century, the outbreak of COVID has upended our lives in many ways. If you’re deeply motivated to make a change in the world, against this reality that exposed our interconnectedness more than ever, international relations is where you can make an impact.
This world has always been a frightening one. After two world wars, the Cold War was based on doomsday predictions of nuclear warfare and mutually assured destruction. Global fears did not subside with the end of the Cold War. Terrorism, environmental destruction and global warming, biological, chemical, and nuclear warfare, HIV, Ebola, and now COVID-19 are at the core of global conflicts, international disputes and, concomitantly, collaboration.
In a video posted on 21 May 2020, Malta’s Minister for Foreign & European Affairs, Hon. Evarist Bartolo, appealed to his European colleagues to support Malta with respect to the migration flows in the Mediterranean, referring to intra-European solidarity as one of the founding principles of the European Union. Inevitably driven by fear and internal pressures, amplified by COVID-19, his action reminds us that the problems of the world affect each single one of us, and the study of these problems is in the key interest of all nations on the planet.
Migration patterns are a symptom of global inequalities that increasing trade has not been able to alleviate. Trade has become a source of prosperity for some, yet not for most individuals on the planet. OXFAM statistics are stark: 22 men own more wealth than all the women of Africa. 2,153 billionaires own more wealth then 60 percent of the world’s population. As COVID-19 spreads in Africa - at the outset not least through European tourists - it reveals how a virus is a truly global problem, and how a public health system in one country affects those in the rest of the world.
How the richest and most powerful use their resources will determine the fate of humankind in the post-COVID-19 world, and International Relations asks questions, analyses cases and scenarios, and proposes solutions to the questions that matter now, in the medium term and in the long run.
This is why International Relations remains, more than ever, the key to understanding this world. How these men (and a few women) decide, what motivates them, and what structures exist to channel and guide the mind-sets of decision makers, is pivotal for changing the world into a better one, one in which people can live in dignity and peace.