COVID-19, The Pandemic, Reparation, and Solution; A Perspective!

COVID-19 implications need no discussion, but does that end with COVID-19, if and when!

Alone India has about 70 million people in extreme poverty or to say to whom Two Square meal a day is also a challenge. Whatever economic activity such persons involved in, if those have received a setback and those Two Square Meals a day is also a challenge, one can image the predicament of such persons. And what more – what if this proposition is merely the tip of the ice-berg?

A fusillade of repartee and offensives by many, including by those in the US, UK, Japan as also several legal suits have been filed and many in the process, claiming China's violation of provisions of International Health Regulations, International Human Rights, International Humanitarian Laws, and UDHR clauses. Such suites and claims for damages are likely to amount to multi-trillion USD claims against China, some estimates even anticipate this to run to about $10 Trillion.

This article does not look into causes of Pandemic, which much could have been a natural manifestation of Malthusian Catastrophe that population shall continue to ‘auto-correct' itself (whether for reasons of food as proposed in the original proposition, or even any other considering it to be merely nature's conjuring) by any of the means, natural or even man-made. This article, then, merely takes up the issues going forward, from here, and thus what is all this likely to culminate in? Can China be held accountable for playing with human lives, be it directly or indirectly? Is Reparation the solution, and irrespective it be a solution or not, can it at all be imposed? Are there other as grave challenges as fall out of Pandemic, which currently eludes and solution, if any, in the sight?

The article endeavours a perspective to these questions, right or wrong another thing, but hopes to offer food for thought. “International law is the vanishing point in Jurisprudence” – Holland.

This is an accepted position in International law. Also, ‘Precedents' set the ground in International Law. Then, are there precedents of the imposition of ‘Reparation’ upon a member of UNSC and was it any difficult to impose? Notwithstanding the severity or nature of the case and looking only at ‘Reparation’ enforceability aspect, in the famous Nicaragua Case [Citation(s)1986 I.C.J. 14], the US has had judgments passed against it by ICJ in ratio 11:1, including also to pay reparations (point no. 14 of the judgment). However, the US felt it was not necessary to comply with such directions and could not eventually be enforced upon them. Of course, the implications were not of such international stature. Reparation enforcement against any member of the Security Council is not likely to succeed anyway. It is noteworthy that the veto power of China as a member is, apparently, further strengthened by support from Russia as seen in the instant case.

The only solution remains ‘Pacific Blockade' and social boycott of any Country, if at all. But implementing that would be easier said than done in today’s age of Interdependence. United Nation resolution 1803 of 14th Dec 1962 of “Permanent Sovereignty Over Natural Resources” certainly offers a recourse in it being more of ‘Municipal’ nature from the International Law point of view, but this is a double-edged sword and cuts both ways.

However, one will also do well to remember the effects of the post 1st World War ‘Reparations' and ‘Sanctions' imposed, and their catastrophic outcomes. Of course, that this was foreseen and warned against, well in advance by the brilliant JM Keynes, was of little use.

What then to do?

Foremost, pre-empt the challenges likely to emerge, and contain as much further damage. What major challenges are perceived, going forward? They are those of leaving a depressed and deprived society manifesting impoverishment based starvation & hunger-deaths, deteriorated & in-human living conditions and rising crimes.

What then next course with possibility to safeguard against such outcome?

So, extraordinary situations require extraordinary solutions or let's say radical solutions. Already it was heartening to see all the world leaders come together to discuss the combating of COVID19. It is hoped that once again they will collaborate and come together to vanquish yet another enemy, the likely continued aftermath of this pandemic.

Following propositions are then made for consideration:

a) Countries may consider a ‘Closed Economy' model, thereby, ‘ubiquities’ being the main factors of production. This, then, is proposed to be central and core to all the world economies, while on a broader plane ‘Mixed Economy' to remain the model to be considered for adoption.

b) A robust “Global Social Security System" shall perhaps become the need of the hour. Such thought may be borne in mind as to the effect of “neighbours sickness – my weakness, neighbour’s health – my wealth”. Never before history would have witnessed 'interdependence' at such a global scale, necessitating envisioning of a strong 'Global Value Chain', and each person as a collaborator in such 'Value Chain'.

c) One likely fall-out of such economic model could be for societies to evolve into a lifestyle of “Plain living and high thinking”; the ideology of Count Leo Tolstoy remaining as much relevant even today. Thus, the society to endeavour satiety of their needs as derived from products based upon the locally available inputs, striving to be a ‘self-sufficient’ and ‘selfreliant’ nation, particularly to the extent of 'Necessities'.

d) Most countries have overcome religious, political and other divides. Now it is the time to overcome the divide caused by national boundaries and look to a model based on the theory of ‘Comparative Cost Advantage’ based ‘Free International Trade’, with ‘Global Rationing' of the essentials viz food, cloth and shelter as part of ‘Global Social Security' scheme.

“There is enough in this world for everyone’s need, not everyone's greed” – Mahatma Gandhi

e) Noteworthy, even such ubiquities which are in limited supply like the ‘land' to comprise part of ‘Social Security', as shelter now rendered as much a ‘necessity’; one does not want people affected by such viruses, both as at present and those by future viruses as they continuously mutate and evolve, and such people having to seek recluse in the streets as they have no other options. The well being is, clearly, Contagious now!.

f) Also, it is to ensure that each person contributes to global GDP as if each contributes enough to meet their own consumption. Then, it is incumbent upon the 'State' and Business Houses to ensure that each household contributes to the global GDP. For the purpose, growth of MSMEs to be bolstered, and it may be construed incumbent upon the State to so ensure. Each local leader and a committee of the local representatives, in conjunction with the last-mile delivery arm of the “Executive” under the ‘Administrative Law’, maybe effectuated to deliver on this front. Such reports may be monitored by the 'Social Security' wing, for reasons of more than mere livelihood, as we shall see.

g) Goodwill activities in including 'Pro-bono' support and counselling by those in the position of confidence and strength to be augmented in disseminating hope, to ensure the saving of societies from slipping a state of hopelessness and depression, as a potential cause of ‘Crime-increase', next big bane of society, after hunger. As the individuals emerge from this Noah’s Arc of the current ages and society begins to recollaborate, leaders would perhaps do well to come to the fore and aid to such collaboration endeavours in eventually creating "One Large Global Value Chain", devoid of discrimination of any sort: remember - “neighbours sickness – my weakness, neighbour’s health – my wealth!”

Birendra Kumar Agarwal B.Com (Honours), MBA (UK) and LLB (pursuing).

(An entrepreneurial Professional with over 35 years of working across the spectrum of industries at Top Management level. Ranging from MSMEs to multibillion-dollar organisations, including those in remote corners of the country and with impoverished segments of society, enjoys both national and international working experiences)