Marshall Center Holds Virtual Workshop on Vaccine Diplomacy and International Security

Covid-19 graphic

Marshall Center Holds Virtual Workshop on Vaccine Diplomacy and International Security

By College of International and Security Studies
George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (Sept. 24, 2021) – The Marshall Center conducted its virtual Area Studies Alumni Community of Interest Workshop titled, “COVID-19: Vaccine Diplomacy and International Security” on Sept. 23. Thirty alumni from 20 countries participated in this year’s iteration. 

Dr. Sebastian von Münchow, Marshall Center faculty professor and the event director, explained the choice of focus, “Since the global outbreak of the coronavirus in early 2020, global actors have attempted to end the pandemic through vaccination. Since summer 2020, this turned into a rivalry where powers sometimes combine the delivery of vaccines with efforts to create political disturbances and dependencies. What are their agendas? What are ways for the wider transatlantic community to counter malign influences?”

To this end, he invited Dr. Elizabeth Wishnick, professor of political science at Montclair State University in New Jersey, to talk about China’s role during the pandemic and how it is linked to great power vaccine competition. 

Marshall Center professor, Dr. Pál Dunay, joined and elaborated on Russia’s controversial Sputnik V diplomacy. 

In addition, the Center’s Chair of Strategic Initiatives, Dr. Valbona Zeneli, focused on Rome’s attempts to withstand Chinese and Russian efforts to destabilize Italy. 

Finally, North Macedonia’s former Deputy Minister of Defense, Dr. Bekim Maksuti, explained how NATO’s newest member state fought the pandemic. 

The participants engaged enthusiastically in the discussion and challenged the speakers with many questions on how to counter the Kremlin and Beijing’s attempts to exercise malign influence.

Dr. Matthew Rhodes, the faculty’s head of area studies, observed, “This COI once more deepened the constructive network between the Marshall Center staff in Garmisch and leading alumni across Europe as well as Europe’s eastern and southern flanks. I was happy to see that alumni from a diverse group of countries including Belgium, Nigeria, and Jordan joined this virtual workshop.”

“Of course I am sad that I couldn’t travel with these participants to Belgium, where previous COIs took place. This year we had even planned to visit the College of Europe in the beautiful Flemish town of Bruges. But I was happy that the College of Europe participated in this year’s online seminar. After todays’ discussion, my team and I are even more looking forward to conducting this important activity in Brussels again in the future.” added von Münchow.