The COVID-19 pandemic illustrates the challenges of achieving collective solutions to address global health crises. While one may be tempted to conclude that international organizations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), have failed to do their job, this article asserts instead that the WHO was not designed to foster collective responses to global pandemics. The primacy of state sovereignty means that international organizations lack the authoritative power to compel or coerce national governments to cooperate. The WHO is accountable to its member states, not to the people living within those countries. As a result, national interests, rather than collective or transnational goals, have prevailed in the fight against COVID-19. To overcome this, the WHO, and other international organizations similar to it, must prioritize its ethical and moral commitment to reaching everyone, everywhere.
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