2020 - COVID-19, INTERNATIONAL SECURITY AND THE IMPORTANCE OF NATO STO

Kevan JONES (United Kingdom)

09 June 2020

The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus epidemic which was first identified in China in late 2019 has expanded to touch nearly every corner of the globe. The World Health Organization (WHO) assessed COVID-19 as a pandemic on 11 March 2020. The speed and the scale of the virus’ global spread has been unprecedented; the disruptions it has caused are unparalleled. At the beginning of June 2020, the total number of confirmed cases is over six million globally with more than 386,000 persons who died of the disease (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, 2020). 

As a political-military alliance, one of NATO’s main interests in the current pandemic, as well as in future pandemics, is maintaining the health, safety, and readiness of our armed forces.  However, this pandemic also has severe implications for defence and security. One may even argue that the severe health, economic, financial, and other effects make the COVID-19 pandemic the most challenging security crisis since the Alliance was founded. Although the pandemic does not pose a direct military threat to member nations, the widespread ramifications has shown weaknesses in Alliance resilience. The principle of resilience is essential to NATO; it is firmly enshrined in Article 3 of the Washington Treaty. NATO militaries are making meaningful contributions to support national civilian efforts aimed at mitigating the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.