Diane Stone, European University Institute Clutter of Commissions? COVID-19 Knowledge for Global Policy

Lunch seminar

Diane Stone, European University Institute
Clutter of Commissions?  COVID-19 Knowledge for Global Policy

Global Commissions of Inquiry’ have usually been associated with the multilateral initiatives of governments and international organizations (eg., the Brundtland Commission).  This century, another variety of ‘global commission’ have emerged – those that are created, funded and staffed as private ‘eminent-persons’ panels or as public-private ‘hybrid’ initiatives. Global Commissions are also a key aspect of the COVID-19 international policy landscape. Headed by eminent academics or (semi-)retired senior states-people, this paper argues that these Commissions are engines for new ideas and policy knowledge feeding into transnational governance. However, the ‘clutter’ of Commissions and their recommendations raise concerns: a clouding of the global focus, bureaucratic fragmentation, waning attention spans of politicians and publics, and the prospect of wasted resources on duplicative exercises. Despite their number, there are additional concerns that they do not present sufficiently viable policy options. As a result, there are many questions about the current and future purpose, function and impact of Global Commissions. For example: In the international context, what does ‘independent’ mean? Do these Commission shift paradigms, or simply maintain them? What is their real impact on global policy, international organizations and state actors? Do they create and corral new knowledge (evidence for policy) or are they ‘evidence ratifiers’?  With so many Commissions ‘commissioned’ during the pandemic, are they concerted and coordinated, or do they have discordant effects? This paper focuses on Global Commissions which emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic and their influence on global actors and policies. They include, inter aliaReform for ResilienceThe Lancet Covid Commission and the Global Commission for Post Pandemic Policy.  The paper examines the authority under which these private and hybrid commissions were constructed, their leadership and backing, how they acquire legitimacy (or not), and their influence (to date) not only on state and international actors and actions, but also on globalising health policy