The Coronavirus Pandemic and Global Governance: The Domestic Diffusion of Health Norms in Global Health Security Crises

DOI10.1177/09735984211042094
Published date01 December 2021
Date01 December 2021
https://doi.org/10.1177/09735984211042094
Jadavpur Journal of
International Relations
25(2) 208 –234, 2021
© 2021 Jadavpur University
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DOI: 10.1177/09735984211042094
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Article
The Coronavirus
Pandemic and
Global Governance:
The Domestic
Diffusion of Health
Norms in Global
Health Security
Crises
Shreejita Biswas1,2
Abstract
The recent outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic demands imperative
discussions in the field of health security and global governance.
Traditional studies on health care and global governance have
acknowledged the significance of “global” as it rested on the fact that
epidemics and pandemics are not restricted within national boundaries.
The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the hierarchical division of norm
diffusion. Despite the structural inequalities, the patterns of behavior of
various countries, such as China, the USA, Italy, South Korea, and India,
in managing the crisis suggest a favorable ground for bringing in the
importance of national-level decision-making in the global versus local
1 PhD Scholar, Centre for International Politics, Organization and Disarmament, School of
International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India.
2 Doctoral Fellow, Indian Council of Social Science Research, New Delhi, India.
Corresponding author:
Shreejita Biswas, PhD Scholar, Centre for International Politics, Organization and
Disarmament, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi,
Delhi 110067, India and Doctoral Fellow, Indian Council of Social Science Research, New
Delhi, India.
E-mail: shreejitabiswas@yahoo.com
Biswas 209
debate. Building upon the arguments from norm theories of diffusion,
the article contributes to our understanding that for an effective analysis
of the politics of global health governance, the power of local channels
in the diffusion of essential health norms cannot be undermined. The
article studies the role played by the local-level diffusion processes, in
this case, the national state actors in reshaping and integrating essential
health norms to make it workable for broader global relevance. As a
result, following the norm theories of diffusion, this article analyzes the
global–local dynamics with regard to public health in the context of the
spread of the COVID-19 health security threat.
Keywords
Covid-19, health security, norm diffusion, global-local dynamics, global
governance
Introduction
This article seeks to address the domestic-level diffusion processes of
global health norms in the context of the recent outbreak of the COVID-
19 pandemic, which came to be known as COVID-19, affecting the lives
across several countries. The demographic movement of the virus,
intensified by globalization, suggests that a detailed study of global
governance in the health security system has to be taken into account.
But though a pandemic of such a scale has necessitated the need for
global governance, it brings into the argument—how have the domestic
diffusion processes affected the conditioning of the global health norms
in cases of health security risks? The diverse strategies adopted by
various countries at the domestic level in the COVID-19 case suggest
that we need to broaden the global–local nexus in the cases of health
security threats by analyzing the position of the local in the global and
local interface.
In the context of the COVID-19 health security threat, this article
highlights the significant role of the national-level diffusion strategies
that have influenced the global health security system. This is because
while the global governance under the guidelines of the World Health
Organization (WHO) has paved the way to deal with the crisis, at the
national level, different countries had their own self-regulatory patterns
of behavior in dealing with the COVID-19 situation. Despite the

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