The regime complex about antimicrobial resistance – project outputs

The main output of this inter- and transdisciplinary research project was the production of two reports for the United Nations Interagency Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance (IACG-AMR).

Our work fed the report by the United Nations Foundation (UNF), which is available on the World Health Organization (WHO) website. In addition, the information gained by the UNF was also important to provide information that was not available online.

Both the report by the UNF as well as the academic report prepared through a collaboration between the University of Geneva and the University of Hong Kong provided recommendations on ways to strengthen the global governance of AMR, especially regarding the involvement and participation of different stakeholders. It was a contribution for the elaboration of recommendations by the IACG-AMR. The IACG-AMR released its final recommendations to the UN Secretary General in April 2019.

In the academic report, we provided a way to look at the challenges of global collective action and functions of international organisations. In addition, we identified several clusters populated with specific organisations. As the goal of our recommendations was to be actionable, suggested clusters of organisations does not mean that all organisations have to work together but rather provide a range of options to consider when expanding participation. In absence of clear hierarchy between issues, enhanced participation requires mechanisms for resolving conflicts between norms and policies to avoid that they undermine effective responses.

At the scientific level, the work done was embedded within a larger research project about the regime complex on AMR. The role of institutions as well as their interactions was critical to map the regime complex. This approach is also essential to understand the impact of regime complexity in tackling global challenges such as AMR. Important trade-offs might be present in extending participation with both positive and negative effects.

In terms of pros, extending participation of stakeholders in addressing AMR, both regarding the number of sectors and the type of actors involved, can help improve data sharing/openness and channel more money. This can increase the reach of different projects. Information connectivity between organisations and individual actors and stakeholders can improve the effectiveness of the governance system.

By contrast, issues of coordination associated with high transaction costs can arise when too many stakeholders compete for the same goals and resources. Several scientific publications are currently under preparation to be published in peer-reviewed journals.

In terms of wider impact, this transdisciplinary collaboration might also be a contribution to the question of how the UN system can work to address several sustainability challenges that we face.

When the HIV-AIDS crisis unfolded in the 1990s, the response at the global level was the creation of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) with the mandate of coordination across sectors.

In this report, we advocated another way to coordinate based on the management of interplay in the age of sustainable development. Overall, this collaboration was an opportunity to further the debate on the global governance of complex challenges to ensure a good fit between the nature of the challenge of AMR and the governance mechanisms to address it.

Author: Dr. Didier Wernli