Speeding up vaccine rollouts should be key foreign policy focus

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SINGAPORE – The most important thing right now is the countries that are going to be the most helpful in getting the world back to normal amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

And regardless of whether the particular countries have either soft or hard power, it should be a key foreign policy focus for those who have the resources and ability to try and help out.


This was according to Partner, Sanctuary Counsels, Jonathan McClory, at the Singapore International Foundation (SIF) Public Diplomacy in Asia 2021 Conference, here, today.

McClory, an independent strategy consultant specialising in soft power, public diplomacy, cultural relations, place branding and creative industries, spoke with three other speakers on the topic of “Public Diplomacy in a Post-COVID-19 World.”

The session was moderated by Director of the Center on Public Diplomacy at the University of Southern California , Dr Jay Wang.

McClory was asked if a country with no military strength can demonstrate excellent soft power and wonderful public diplomacy to rally people together to solve a particular problem, such as in getting proper global vaccine rollouts.

“It won’t necessarily be those countries that have the best military infrastructure, but those that can help build capability around public health or help in the rollout for funding of the vaccine rollout globally.

“And, I think that’s going to be the most important thing for soft power,” he said.

McClory noted that Japan is one of the countries that without a military per se could really get involved in “bringing this to an end.”

The consultant said it was proven by all the work that the country has done in Southeast Asia such as capacity building in various areas and developments and “part of that has been public health.”

McClory also said that the European Union have actually done fairly well in their work of supplying vaccines to the global COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) system and “they could probably make a bit more noise around that.”

“It’s taking a lot of arm-twisting for the US to actually let any vaccines out of the country. They need to do a lot more on that,” he added.

McClory stressed that it should be a key foreign policy focus for any countries that have the resources and ability to try and help out.

“They should be because over the next few years that is going to be in front of everybody’s mind that who was it that was there to help us in our hour of need and get us back to normal? That’s kind of everything right now,” he said.