The dependence of modern countries on non-state actors(NSAs) and vice versa increases each year as society evolves. This collaboration is essential to support growing populations as more and more nations turn to democracy. In times of dire need, resources that are drawn together from states and non-state actors allow the world to uphold order and provide adequate means of sustainability.
In this essay, human health, and especially pandemic preparedness and containment, will be used to provide the idea of the advantages and disadvantages of NSAs for global public goods. The current pandemic of COVID-19 has reminded humanity that health is not a commodity, and all parts of society must take necessary actions to preserve it. The emerging virus made it clear that pandemic preparedness is a global public good, yet there are several factors related to communication between countries and NSAs that impede its distribution.
The engagement of the World Health Organization (WHO) with non-state actors provides significant input in quickening the solution to the problem. Their interactions revealed the need to reimagine the role NSAs play in providing healthcare, as well as government relationships with them. Due to the severe strain on government-funded healthcare providers, the involvement of NSAs quickly spread among countries, especially the ones who were less prepared, to save as many lives as possible.
This increased demand provided several insights into the benefits and flaws of such relationships. For example, many private hospitals and clinics made their beds and medical personnel available to the government’s needs. In turn, countries provide licenses to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that meet standards set by WHO to serve patients with COVID-19 who decide to turn to the private healthcare sector. NSAs continue to export and produce the necessary gear and equipment, as well as train staff to treat patients diagnosed with coronavirus. Several NGOs collect and analyze crucial data on the pandemic and make it publically available, reducing the strain on governments.
As an example, the Red Cross and Red Crescent redirected over 1.5 million euros of their funds to fight coronavirus in Asia and Africa. When and where necessary, they fill gaps in healthcare providing, bring supplies of protective equipment, educate the population about the virus, and provide pre-hospital care. The Red Cross often assists authorities in managing hospitals with trained staff members and volunteers.
However, several disadvantages were made evident in relationships between NSAs and governments. The national response of countries tends to exclude any thorough examinations of possible engagement with NSAs. Because of that fact, there is no clear plan or coordination between these sides, despite the apparent need. Moreover, several NSAs use this pandemic as a means for benefit or power acquisition. During crises, effective efforts by NSAs can undermine governments’ authority, especially if a government fails to respond to the situation adequately and quickly. For example, the Taliban has been providing adequate care and instituted a curfew in Afghanistan as the government was unable to react to the pandemic in time.
In conclusion, NSAs’ efforts on providing global public goods to people are regularly seen as a positive sign. There is a particular need for governments to cooperate with NSAs on this topic, yet the importance of such cooperation is often underestimated. In the modern society that leans toward democratic regulations, civil and rational interaction can provide more significant benefits for people. At the same time, the unregulated influence of NSAs on global public goods can destabilize the situation in some countries.