Health, gender equality, climate, innovative financing and the fight against corruption: the global health crisis could be the starting point of a new multilateralism, believes the former Minister of National Education Najat Vallaud-Belkacem.
Tribune. This year marks the 25e anniversary of the Barcelona process, and the occasion to celebrate regional and multilateral cooperation. But it is also the time to re-examine our objectives – national, regional, international, at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic is shaking up our most entrenched certainties. Valuable lessons emerge from this painful time: The threat of a resurgence raises fears that we will not be safe until we all are. This virus knows no borders, and international solidarity and cooperation should not have any either. Multilateralism is therefore more necessary than ever, but it must not avoid reinventing itself: North-South cooperation should be strengthened, ensuring an equal footing for developing countries and raising African voices. Multilateralism must be equipped with a strong vision and mission. Health, gender equality, the fight against corruption and against climate change are as many avenues for the Euromed partnership and the Union for the Mediterranean of tomorrow as for multilateralism and the world that we wish to build together.
The importance of investing in public services and strengthening health systems are costly booster shots, but also a major legacy for the post-Covid era. Research had warned us about the risk of epidemics, and even equipped us with tools remained underused. With proof of the International Health Regulations: in 2005, following the deadly Sars epidemic, 196 countries pledged to prepare to detect, communicate and respond to future health threats. Today, no country completely complies with this regulation, and low-income countries are lagging the furthest behind. The Covid-19 crisis teaches us once again that prevention is and will always be more effective and less costly in human lives and resources than emergency policy.
Beyond the essential sectors recalled by the pandemic, there are the essential workers – where should I say, here, the workers. Women are on the front line in the fight against the virus, as the French case testifies, with more than 90% of women in the professions of nursing assistants, nursing home staff, cashiers and home help. These care professions raise the question of the asymmetry between the social value of work and their social and financial valuation. Women also remain very little represented in decision-making positions during the crisis, and do not have an equal voice in a future that concerns them just as much. The Generation Equality Forum, under the Franco-Mexican auspices and postponed to 2021, is a call to feminists around the world, and could be an opportunity to create synergies in the Euro-Mediterranean region. The upgrading of care professions, the inclusion of a component relating to gender equality in international negotiations (we can no longer afford public policies blind to the issue of gender), as well as a mechanism for accountability responsible for monitoring commitments and progress on gender equality are all issues to invest for the Partnership, and for which the Feminist Forum next year could be the spokesperson.
Another essential project: global warming and the erosion of biodiversity are, as we have seen, closely linked to the development of epidemics. The same conclusions must be drawn for health as for the climate: the time to act is before the crises. Respect for the Paris agreements and the principles of climate justice must find centrality in international fora, starting with the Euro-Mediterranean.
The thorny question of financing these ambitious policies can find a double anchor: the fight against illicit financial flows and corruption, which engulf billions each year, but also the mobilization around solidarity financing. A good example is that of the tax on financial transactions in France, part of which is allocated to development aid, in an effort to correct the harmful effects of globalization.
Health, gender equality, climate and innovative financing: the list is not exhaustive, but this new decade could be the one in which the Euro-Mediterranean partnership, but also multilateralism in its other forms, take up these subjects to make compasses for the future.