Center for Global Affairs
Responding to Emergencies in the Global System
Whether it is an extreme weather event, an outbreak of a pandemic disease, an outpouring of migrants, a civil war that threatens to spill over borders, or a genocide, there are times when critical events require the concerted efforts of a range of actors across the global system. Nevertheless, there exists an array of options and possibilities that might occur, ranging from inactivity to comprehensive responses. In some cases, single countries take the lead in responding, in other cases regional neighbors muddle through, and in some it appears that the entire planet is unified in pulling together to address the crisis. Sometimes our responses are adequate, but sadly there are also times when they are not. How that success is measured and how those failures are learned from are not settled matters. With climate change and conflict showing no signs of abating, how the world responds to emergencies is of utmost importance to us all.