The consequences of violence worldwide are dire. More than half a million people die from violent deaths each year. In 2019, violence cost the global economy $14.5 trillion USD, or $1,909 USD per person. Countries with armed conflicts account for 80 percent of humanitarian spending. Beyond these cold numbers, the human toll of violence results in the suffering of families, trauma-affected communities, and increased fear and hopelessness. Different types of violence—such as crime, violent extremism, and armed conflict—are often interlinked and share risk and resilience factors. Although currently siloed, the UN system has the capacities and knowledge to develop approaches to prevention that cut across interlinked forms of violence.
This paper analyzes COVID-19 relief spending in ten countries to assess whether governments are investing resources in inclusive programs that will lead to the desired goal of ‘building back better.’ The results of this analysis indicate that current investments are likely to maintain the status quo, and potentially lead to a deepening of inequalities by overlooking urgent needs of marginalized groups affected by the social and economic effects of the pandemic. The countries analyzed are the following: Canada, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Mexico, Sierra Leone, South Korea, Sweden, Tunisia, and Uruguay.
Si vis pacem, cole justitiam” – “If you desire peace, cultivate justice,” is the motto enshrined in the foundations of the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) building in Geneva, established in 1919. World War I, the Russian Revolution, and the fear of communism that followed, had convinced world leaders that, “universal and lasting peace can be established only if it is based upon social justice,” as they stated in the 1919 Versailles Treaty. Widespread injustice, inequalities, and exclusion were the enemies of peace. Many would argue they are no less relevant today.
The COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity to re-evaluate the principles or ideas that are at the heart of theories of government, that is the fundamentals of governance and public theory. What is government for, but also what should government do and how. Engaging with the crucial philosophical questions of governance is integral to building back better: going back to basics is a major step in figuring out how to prevent mistakes from happening again. The social contract is one such principle: the idea of a social contract is central to answering the question of what governments are for: explaining why people obey laws, providing answers to why we live in societies, and why we abide by social rules and norms.
The global pandemic has laid bare the digital inequities across vertical (income) and horizontal (social, political, and identity) dimensions, while exposing the extent to which pre-pandemic approaches to bridging the digital divide have been dominated by economic considerations even while they are not universally treated as policy priorities.