Sigh of relief for Int’l organisations at Biden victory | Daily News

Sigh of relief for Int’l organisations at Biden victory

US President-elect Joe Biden and wife Jill wore masks and helmets on their bike ride on Sunday.
US President-elect Joe Biden and wife Jill wore masks and helmets on their bike ride on Sunday.

SWITZERLAND: After years of US disengagement and confrontation, international organisations in Geneva appeared to breathe a collective sigh of relief at Joe Biden’s Presidential election win -- but the anticipated honeymoon could be short.

“I think everyone is basically waiting with open arms for the US government to come back,” said Manfread Elsig, an international relations professor at the World Trade Institute of Bern University.

Republican President Donald Trump’s administration has been a traumatic experience for international organisations that in many cases were created by the United States and accustomed to strong US support and leadership.

In Geneva alone, the United States has, under Trump, cut its ties to the UN’s top rights body, hamstrung the World Trade Organization and begun withdrawing from the World Health Organization even as the body strives to coordinate the global response to COVID-19.

After the election was called for Democratic Party candidate Biden last weekend, “there was a huge sigh of relief” within the international organisations, a Geneva trade official told AFP, asking not to be named.

Observers expect Washington under Biden to re-engage with the international community and its institutions, and to resume discussions on a number of issues blocked by his predecessor.

The WHO has a particular reason to celebrate, after suffering relentless US attacks in recent months.Accusing the United Nations health agency of mishandling the COVID-19 response and of kowtowing to China, Trump has begun withdrawing the United States -- traditionally the WHO’s top donor -- from the organisation.

But Biden said in a tweet: “On my first day as President, I will rejoin the WHO and restore our leadership on the world stage.”

The WHO did not wish to comment on its expectations for a Biden presidency, but the agency’s chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus struck an upbeat tone in his congratulatory tweet to the president-elect.

The World Trade Organization will certainly also welcome a changing of the guard in Washington.

- AFP