‘Urgency’ and ‘Responsibility’ in Global Cooperation - Covid-19 and Beyond

International Conference

5 & 6 October 2020

Online-Event via Zoom


Global crises have become regular fare in contemporary society: around diseases (Covid-19, Ebola, SARS, Zika, etc.) as well as around climate change, cybersecurity, finance, human rights, migration, poverty, war and more. For all such transboundary challenges a headline message flows that ‘responsible’ actors should ‘urgently’ pursue global cooperation, with the implication that uncoordinated and conflictual approaches are foolish if not depraved.

Taking impetus from Covid-19 and moving across other issue areas, this online conference examines how mindsets of ‘urgency’ and ‘responsibility’ (and their absence) work in global politics. How do people invoke this vocabulary to mobilize global collective action? In contrast, how do others contest ‘urgency’ and ‘responsibility’ – for example, with climate change denials, claims of fake news, responsibilization of migrants, and so on? When do appeals to ‘urgency’ and ‘responsibility’ provoke creative new ways of global cooperation? When on the contrary does this language encourage extra-legal action and suspension of rights?

To explore these issues, the conference convenes international interdisciplinary panels of specialists in a variety of policy fields. We look not only at unfolding experiences around the Covid-19 pandemic, drawing on experts in global health governance, but also look beyond the immediate moment to other ‘crises’ and consider what can be learned from a historical and comparative perspective.


Please find a report of this conference in the Centre's Quarterly Magazine (3/2020, p. 17–21) (pdf).