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ICSW President's Message: A Changed World

Eva Holmberg Herrstrom
Eva Holmberg Herrström President, ICSW

After 3 months with most of the world in lockdown the COVID-19 virus is still moving around. While Europe and parts of Asia are slowly opening up, much of the rest of the world experience a worsening situation. And even the opening up process have severe restrictions. At this time more than 8 million people have been affected and more than 440 000 died. The figures are probably grimmer in reality as reporting seems to be incomplete in many countries. We still have a lot to learn about this virus in terms of how long it will last and what effects it will have. It is crucial that the health services are in a position to take care of those who need it. Social distancing and other measures may have to go on for a long time.

But the effects go far beyond the illness itself. The global economy is in a huge backlash which it may take years to recover from. Huge support packages are set up, for instance in the European Union. Unemployment is on the rise, and it will take time before we are back to the situation we had before. Some jobs are gone for ever. The progress in poverty reduction has come to a halt and poverty is on the way up again. Both UNICEF and Save the Children are very worried about the effects especially for children, and fear that the number of poor children can increase by up to 86 million and reach 672 million by year end. What we need now is solidarity above all, within the nations, with the neighbouring nations and with all nations. The goal of international development cooperation has for a long time been a percentage of GNI. As GNI is about to fall in most countries, development cooperation will also fall if we do not increase the percentage. 

Another effect of the pandemic is a threat to democracy. Laws are altered or not followed with the argument of combatting COVID-19, increasing the power of the ruling classes. Said to be temporary, we need to watch up so they do not become permanent. ICSW and our members have an important task as watchdogs in terms of both social security and human rights at this time.

Stay calm, safe and well.

Eva Holmberg Herrström
ICSW President