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G20 is proving again to be the right format to handle global crisis management

After every cataclysmic event, one tends to think that the world will never be the same. This time it is true that in certain ways the world must change. Global history is laden with such turning points almost all being painful. For years we have been warned that a pandemic could be that cataclysmic.

The section of humanity that lives amid raging wars, crises, endemic fragility, state collapse and human misery could be pardoned for thinking that it could not be worse. Those living in peaceful, prosperous regions could think that nothing could harm them and that they were destined to remain lucky. Yet, a pandemic is what it is; no society, no individual can hope to be outside the reach of a deadly virus. We thus distance ourselves from the others, from the blessings of social interactions.

Infections have reached all continents except Antarctica, numbers race toward a million and will surely surpass it, more than a third of humanity is ordered to stay home, and all those lives we have already lost in shocking numbers will be joined by scores of others. The economic toll of this pandemic will also be daunting and can be long-term. The impact on existing state fragilities, on politics and security will surely encumber governments around the world. We have yet to see the light at the end of this tunnel and we cannot wait for it. It is a moment of reflection but also leadership and action.

The global system was in tatters even before humanity was struck by COVID-19. Turkey, for one, had been making the case that we needed to reform the system. We called it “the world is larger than five” agenda, referring to the outdated composition of the U.N. Security Council but not stopping there. As a country that had to address unending conflicts and human misery in our close neighborhood and home to largest refugee population in the world, we have known that the system was not working.

In 2008, when the world was struck, that time by the economic pandemic, the G20 was able to bring a sense of direction and thus stability to the faltering world economy. The system had worked then but thanks in large degree to a relatively new global actor. We must brace for a similar massive economic impact this time around as well and make sure that the system works even as we make the necessary patches and replacements.

The top priority is to protect the health and safety of people from COVID-19. We support the timely G20 statement through which the leaders committed to act in solidarity in the fight against the pandemic and safeguard the global economy and unrestricted trade. The extension of SWAP agreements have been among significant measures agreed by the G20.

We are happy that our proposal to form a Senior Officials Coordination Group was embraced by the G20 as we need to coordinate closely on issues such as border management and repatriation of citizens. I thank Canada for presenting initial ideas on its modalities. G20 is proving again to be the right format in global crisis management.