Today could have been the 81st day of our walk from Manchester to Rome. We could have been at the highest point on our trek (2,469 m) on the shortest night of the year north of the equator. We should have reached and crossed the Great St Bernard Pass.
Instead, we may walk next year. Maybe. Napoleon once came this way with 40,000 others so I’m thinking it shouldn’t be too hard a walk.
Meantime, the WHO have reminded us that over 9 million people are Covid positive and the death toll is almost 500,000 siblings, parents, children, friends and colleagues. Officially. Unofficially, I know several people who had Covid that are not in the figures for countries where counting should have been feasible. We all know such folk. What we don’t know is what’s happening where counting is virtually impossible.
For those countries where this started, I believe that an accounting must take place. I believe that mistakes were made and some mistakes were foreseeable. I think that the global response being fragmented has worsened the situation. Certainly, there will be national enquiries once the dust had settled. Some will take years to reach useless conclusions. Some will be less political and perhaps more informative. I presume all will focus on national imperatives for future pandemic defence.
It’s hard to argue about national performance in absolute terms but by relative measure, some nations have managed to mitigate and suppress the spread of the virus. Conversely, the response by some leaders to the current pandemic would appear to qualify as a dereliction of duty. The scale of this dereliction, like genocide and crimes against humanity, might be measured in mortality. The tendency to blame others, whether other nations or global organisations, is at best demagoguery. At worst, they might be fighting words. But might it also be a guilty plea? An implicit statement of accountability in the form of a denial of responsibility? ‘It wasn’t me but I can say that, can’t I, because I’m in charge?’
Is there an appetite to recognise and prosecute leaders for a dereliction of duty (if you agree there is dereliction at all)? Do these qualify as crimes against humanity? Can we use the pandemic to raise the standards of national leadership by calling some to account in an international setting? Is it time to move on from the increasingly petty fiefdoms of national sovereignty to a more global view? Tough questions. No doubt.
We’d prosecute leaders if they caused mortal harm in other countries. Why are we so reluctant to let them cause mortal harm within their own borders?
Is the way to get unified global action to make those who run their nations accountable to a higher authority?
Could we start with a pandemic that was mismanaged and in being mismanaged, allowed the virus cross international borders?
Then try climate justice before it’s too late?
Isn’t this a human rights issue? What would The Elders say?
Questions. Sorry. No answers.