IISD: Harnessing Governance Statistics in the Fight Against COVID-19

Oslo Governance Centre • 17 September 2020

by Osvaldo Borges and Malin Herwig

"There is one aspect of the current pandemic that makes it particularly dangerous – and it has nothing to do with the contagiousness of the virus or with the potentially lethal disease it causes. What makes the COVID-19 pandemic especially dangerous is that it is striking at a time when respect for key principles of governance has been eroding across the globe for a number of years.

In March, the 2020 World Justice Project Rule of Law Index reported that more countries’ rule of law scores were declining rather than improving for the third year in a row. And for the first time since 2001, V-Dem’s Democracy Report 2020 found that there are more autocracies than democracies in the world.

Just when our societies need inclusive and accountable governments to respond effectively to an unprecedented health crisis, the number of such governments is in decline. This is trapping us in a downward cycle: while existing governance weaknesses worsen the impacts of the pandemic, the pandemic further erodes critical norms and institutions of governance. We see this trend in established democracies as well as in closed states, and in every region of the world."

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