Book: International Law, Policy Questions And Perspective Contentions On The Pandemics Of COVID-19 And Chinese Loan Agreements With African States
Author: Michael A. Abiodun
Publisher: Grecian Limited
Reviewer: Yemi Adebisi
A few days ago, the world was thrown into another session of confusion as the dreadful COVID-19 pandemic graduated to emerge a new variant called Omicron, popular as the “virus of concern”.
Before then, several institutions, scholars and world-class analysts have lent their voices on the arbitrary sequence of the spread of the virus and its attendant rate of mortality. While some stakeholders are believed to have imposed their primordial sentiment on other citizenries, politicising the physiognomic reality of the disease, others appear to have been jittery about the policies and literature of COVID-19.
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Dr Michael A. Abiodun, the author of the book, International Law, Policy Questions And Perspective Contentions On The Pandemics Of COVID-19 And Chinese Loan Agreements With African States, has used his prowess to educate the world about the myths and realism of COVID-19, including legal, moral and counter-arguments against Chinese commercial loan agreements with African states.
Holistically, the revered scholar, in the 10-chapter book treats such topics like meaning and origin of COVID-19; etymological claims and counter-claims on the disease; COVID-19 and what international economic law says about national, regional and world economies and then, the international humanitarian law before and at the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.
Other important issues discussed are international law: the principle of ‘international minimum standards’ and the ‘national treatment’: how the Republic of China treats the people of African descent and citizens from other nations of the world in the era of COVID-19 pandemic; an examination and cross-examination of COVID-19 in the light of international human rights protection; abuse of fundamental principles of international law/territorial sovereignty by China’s takeover of several African countries, among others.
Apart from the artistic design of its cover, the book begins with the author’s prefatory statements, which go beyond mere reading for pleasure but rather pivots and curates basic philosophical principles which make the book to be more reader-friendly.
An example of such statement on page 21 says: “If the sudden emergence of coronavirus pandemic is yet to teach nations, engaging leaders and players in the business and financial worlds any sense about learning the unknowns and the knowns unlearnt in a more diversified fashion, and unlearn in anticipation the knowns previously learnt, then the worthy gains of any sudden pandemic can only remain a lot of a few. Then that novel idea to drive the world to witness the next transformation will remain a mystery and a mirage. Then leaders of nations and business moguls will gain the rewards of confusion and losses alone.”
In this portable but loaded book, the author emphasises that what makes the COVID-19 pandemic special is how it takes place in an unprecedented backdrop when the interconnectivity and interdependence between people, countries and continents are so deep.
“The pandemic reminds us that we need to stay humble in the face of disasters. Any country or individual, regardless of their geography, fortunes or political ambitions, is equal. The novel coronavirus crisis rips off all fanciful illusions and superficial things and displays the lasting value of human life.
“We all have to admit that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us examples that lack humanitarianism. This may be due to the chaos caused by the spreading threat. However, such lack of humanitarianism seems to be deep-rooted. This is because of some countries and their ruling elite’s incurable egoism. Those who proclaim themselves as moral leaders with democratic traditions did not unite all parties to seek mutual understanding. Instead, they started to act according to the law of the jungle, regardless of etiquette rules and ethical constraints.” (Page 113)
Abiodun also argues that some Western countries have and are still continuing in the distasteful attitude of politicising humanitarian issues and trying to use the pandemic to punish the governments they dislike.
“If not, how could we explain that these Western countries, which always talk about respecting human rights, do not want to give up their one-sided economic sanctions on developing countries (at least before the global pandemic situation is eased)? Indeed, such sanctions have weakened ordinary people’s ability to exercise their social and economic rights, causing serious difficulties in protecting residents’ health and hitting the most unprotected people.”
The novel coronavirus, in the words of this author, “spread so rapidly that it has changed the rhythm of the globe. Whether from the perspective of a single country or multilateral levels, the solidity of international relations has been put under test. The most obvious consequences include economic recession, a crisis of global governance, trade protectionism and increasing isolationist sentiment.”
He stressed that there is a need to carry out a comprehensive evaluation of the world’s ability to maintain stability when faced with similar challenges in the future, “after we overcome the pandemic.”
In this context, Abiodun accuses China, ranked as the second powerful nation of the world, for striving for global leadership, stressing that it has the economic clout to realise its vision.
“In 2020, the Chinese embassy in Nigeria was forced to deny plans to seize any of Nigeria’s national assets amid local debates over the possibility of ‘losing’ sovereignty to China over bad debts. The scale of China’s lending to African countries as well as the Asian giant’s motives, which have been described in some quarters as ‘debt trap diplomacy’. The solution for this may not be in China-bashing but in African leaders finding smart ways of benefitting from the relationship with China and also developing ingenious ways to profit from the rivalry between China and her traditional allies.
“In doing this, African leaders should bear in mind that China, like the continent’s former colonial masters and others, is in Africa not as Father Christmas but to advance its interest.”
Written in lucid language, the book is educative, expository, historic and refreshing. It is, therefore, recommended to all students in both secondary and tertiary institutions of the world, scholars, lawyers, administrators, health personnel and politicians.
The book, including 18 others published by the author, is on paperbacks and online in Amazon, Payhip and Kobo.
Abiodun, a prolific writer and author of 19 books has a master’s in International Commercial Law from the University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom. He has also undertaken a PhD in Human Rights, Security and UK Anti-Terrorism Laws from the same institution. Abiodun, who has proven to be an authority in this subject based on his academic echelon and professional exposure, is currently an attorney, as well as a federal prosecutor; demonstrating both prosecutorial and academic excellence in matters relating to International Law and Counterterrorism. Incidentally, he is a blind man!
Yemi Adebisi us the Editor, Saturday INDEPENDENT