International organizations have a key role to play in tackling global issues

International organizations have a key role to play in tackling global issues

International organizations have a key role to play in tackling global issues
Children play outside a UNICEF tent following a massive explosion in Beirut's port area, Lebanon, Aug. 20, 2020. (Reuters)
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The COVID-19 pandemic has solidified the impactful role that international organizations can play in addressing complex global issues. A number of notable examples highlight the critical contributions they can make.
For example, the World Bank committed more than $157 billion to aid countries in responding to the pandemic, which translated to financing for vaccines, support for education reform projects, strengthening of healthcare systems, the upgrading of skills to improve employability, and accelerating the rate of digital adoption.
The World Health Organization, meanwhile, provided robust support to most countries, especially those without central epidemiological research centers. The WHO has helped to bolster governments’ response plans, trained millions of health workers, published timely scientific research to help fight misinformation, distributed diagnostic tests and personal protective gear, re-engineered emergency care settings to ensure patients received appropriate treatment, and accelerated research and innovation for diagnostics, vaccines and treatments.
In addition, COVAX, a global initiative co-led by the WHO, delivered life-saving vaccines to more than 100 developing economies to ensure equitable access to disadvantaged communities.
The modern world is riven with complex, urgent and transnational issues that require governments and stakeholders to make concerted efforts to address them in an effective, timely manner. International organizations play a powerful role in helping countries to achieve multiple noble aims, including boosting economic prosperity, promoting social development, improving levels of well-being, preserving human rights, providing humanitarian aid, protecting the environment, and safeguarding peace.
Decisive events during the 20th century, such as the two world wars, highlighted the importance of establishing international institutions that can provide a platform for cooperative dialogue between nations. For example, the UN, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization and other postwar institutions have contributed immensely to boosting economic and fiscal stability, preventing or resolving conflicts, and achieving unprecedented levels of prosperity for global communities.
As we move forward, it is important that such organizations receive ample support from member states so that they can continue to deliver outstanding, positive effects for the world. The nature of prioritized issues on the global agenda necessitates timely responses from multiple stakeholders in many locations, such as governments, industries and communities.
Currently, many policy areas are receiving global attention due to their significance and the interconnectedness between multiple stakeholders that are involved. Examples of such areas include global food systems, climate change, global health threats, global trade, peace and security, migration, investment, financial and economic stability, regulatory reforms, and humanitarian aid.
Advocacy is a key role that international organizations use to shed light on important issues of the day that merit attention and action by multiple stakeholders. In recent years, many international organizations have championed a number of critical issues. For example, the UN played an influential role in spearheading the historic Paris Agreement, an international climate treaty that became legally binding in 2016. It garnered the support of 192 parties for efforts to substantially decrease global greenhouse-gas emissions and limit the global temperature increase to less than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
The unique characteristics of international organizations offer nations an opportunity to bring together multiple stakeholders, acknowledge global issues of concern, utilize expertise and experience, share policy and regulatory instruments, reach consensus in decision-making, and make an impact on the ground.
Global efforts have led to stellar feats in the fields of peacemaking, child protection and development, gender equality, and managing emerging health outbreaks. For example, the WHO spearheaded the effort to eliminate smallpox and successfully declared its eradication in 1980, after two decades of joint global action.
UNICEF, the UN’s Children’s Fund, was established after the Second World War to protect and empower disadvantaged children and adolescents. In the 75 years since it was established, it has supported projects related to child health and nutrition, vaccine provision, education and skill-building, water sanitation, and maternal and neonatal treatments.
Perhaps one of the greatest fortes of international organizations is the preparation and dissemination of a suite of illuminating, useful and evidence-based publications that can assist nations in formulating effective policies and regulations. Special insight reports offer a glimpse into cutting-edge innovations and solutions from around the globe, thereby empowering nations in their missions to remain competitive and resilient.
Sharing success stories, best practices and experiences also help to shed light on important lessons learned from the development and implementation of policies and regulations. Sectoral or thematic outlook reports forecast trends and implications, such as demographic changes and economic trends, which are critical factors to consider when developing policies.
In building capacity, international organizations also contribute a wealth of original, avant-garde and practical knowledge for a variety of stakeholders. This has translated into training programs, seminars, expert talks and public databases containing a wealth of information for self-paced learners.

Decisive events during the 20th century, such as the two world wars, highlighted the importance of establishing international institutions that can provide a platform for cooperative dialogue between nations.

Sara Al-Mulla

Technical standards are regularly published by international organizations to ensure the implementation of quality standards and improve outcomes pertinent to various policy areas. Standards include guidelines, toolkits, self-assessment tools and model regulations.
For example, many international organizations, such as the World Trade Organization, encourage member states to formulate their domestic regulations based on international standards. The UN’s International Labour Organization, for instance, has developed international standards pertaining to important issues such as occupational safety and health, child labor, wages, working time, social security, and maternity protection.
The interconnected world of today demands that we work together to address a spectrum of critical issues that span geographies, industries and stakeholders. By harnessing our collective intelligence and commitment, we can maximize economic and social prosperity, whilst preserving our resources.

  • Sara Al-Mulla is an Emirati civil servant with an interest in human development policy and children’s literature. She can be contacted at
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point-of-view