Health Diplomacy in Pandemical Times

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One likely effect of the COVID-19 pandemic will be an increased focus on health diplomacy, a topic that has rarely been taken up by international relations scholars. After reviewing existing literature on health diplomacy, I argue for the utility of distinguishing states' aims from their practices of health diplomacy in advancing our understanding of when states engage in health diplomacy with a bilateral, regional, or global scope. The recent history of twenty-first century infectious disease outbreaks suggests a possible move away from health diplomacy with global participation. COVID-19 provides numerous examples, from widespread criticism of the World Health Organization to increased bilateral health aid and the creation of a regional vaccine initiative. As pandemics become more frequent, however, more localized health diplomacy is likely to be less effective, given the necessity of global mitigation and containment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E78-E97
JournalInternational Organization
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

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  • diplomacy
  • foreign aid
  • global health


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