Video Competition : $150 to be Won

We are pleased to announce the launch of our first video competition, with prize money of $150 (USD) to win. The competition is open to people all around the world and simply requires you to produce a maximum 2 minutes 20 seconds video to answer the following question:

How can the people of India and Pakistan acheive peace between their countries without violence?

The competition dates are:
  • Open: Monday 1st June 2020
  • Deadline for Submission: midnight (GMT) on Sunday 12th July 2020.
  • Voting Period: Tuesday 14th July 2020 – midnight (GMT) on Tuesday 4th August 2020
  • Announcement of Winner:  Wednesday 5th July 2020.

Prize money of $100 will be awarded to the winner of the ‘People’s Vote’, with an additional $50 awarded to the ‘Editor’s Vote’. Full details for the competition are set out below:


Video Guidelines

Topic: The topic for your video must be ‘How can the people of India and Pakistan acheive peace between their countries without violence?’
Style and presentation: The style and presentation of your video is entirely your choice. You can use a range of images, videos, audio, paintings or drawings or even just a video of yourself, talking to your camera. As long as you comply with the terms and conditions, you can be as creative as you like!
Content: Your video must concern the topic of how the people of India and Pakistan can acheive peace between their countries, without violence. The message you would like to deliver can focus on whatever aspect you like. For example, you may choose to focus on a politics, society, economics, arts, technology, law, ethics,  humanity or whatever you believe would be a path towards peace between the two countries.
Length: Your video must a maximum of 2 minutes 20 seconds in length, there is no minimum length.
Language: We reccommend presenting your video in the English language for maximum viewership. However, you may use whichever language you prefer, but if it is not English then you must include English sub-titles on your video.

Format: The filesize of your video must be no more than 300mb and must be a filetype that is valid to be displayed on YouTube. For full details on what size, dimensions and filetype are suited to YouTube, please consult the Youtube help at

How to Enter:

You must create your video and send it to us. To send, you must create a link to your file with online cloud storage (e.g. Google Drive, Dropbox, One Drive etc.) We reccommend that you use Google Drive, which you can sign up for free at Once you have created your account, simply upload your video to your online storage and get a shareable link for the file which can then be emailed to us (make sure that your file is set so that it can be downloaded by anyone with the link).

Submit video link  to us by email to with the following information
Link to video file: 
Email Address:
I [your name] confirm that I have created the attached video and have accepted the Beyond Nations terms and conditions for entry to the video competition.

How the Winner is decided:

There are two awards to be won:
People’s Vote: All accepted video entries will be uploaded simultaneously on Tuesday 14th July 2020 on the Beyond Nations Youtube Video Channel. Between this date and midnight on Tuesday 4th August 2020 the voting will take place. A person can vote for your video by ‘Liking’ (clicking the ‘thumbs up’ icon) on your video on YouTube. The video with the most amount of Likes by midnight (GMT) on Tuesday 4th August 2020 will be declared the winner of the People’s Vote. The prize money in this category is $100 (USD)

Editor’s Vote: The Beyond Nations Editor’s will vote on the video they determine to the best submission. Their vote will be based on quality of style & presentation, delivery of message, originality (etc. we probably need to give some idea of what our criteria will be).

Terms and Conditions: 

The following terms and conditions apply to the Beyond Nations Video Competition. By entering the competition, you must agree to the following:

  • The video must not contain or promote violence, swearing, nudity or hatred or any of king including racism, sexism, relgious bigotory or any other form of prejudice.
  • Your video must be created by yourself and not contain anyone else’s protected copyrighted material that you are not legally permitted to use. You will be held by Beyond Nations to be personally liable for any loss or damage suffered as a consequence of copyright theft
  • You must not be in breach of any domestic or international laws in the creation of your video.
  • You agree to give permission to Beyond Nations to upload your video on the Beyond Nations Channel with the Beyond Nations logo added to your video
  • Confirm that you issue a royalty-free and unlimited license to Beyond Nations to share, edit and distribute your video both online and offline
  • You agree to not use any ‘fake’ or ‘paid for’ ‘Likes’ for promotion of your uploaded video in order to receive votes.

The WHO is being used as a scapegoat: We must act now to protect it

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has come under brutal criticism concerning its response to the Coronavirus pandemic. The amount of confirmed cases around the world has passed 1.5 million and the death roll approaches 100,000. The virus is rightly viewed as the worst public international health crisis for several generations, and nations have turned to the WHO for leadership. With the pressure mounting, and the WHO’s Director General under intense spotlight, are such criticisms valid or is the WHO being used as a scapegoat to divert blame from others?

The recent criticism is spearheaded by politicians and media in the USA. On 7th April, President Trump tweeted ‘The WHO really blew it. For some reason, funded largely by the United States, yet very China centric,’ Senator Marco Rubio told Fox News that the Chinese government had ‘used the WHO to mislead the world‘, and claimed that the WHO is either complicit or dangerously incompetent and Senator Rick Scott accusing the WHO of helping Communist China cover up a global pandemic.

The Washington Post and New York Times also published features scrutinising the WHO, also suggesting a lack of leadership and political bias towards China. Both features also point towards the WHOs lack of recognition of the sovereignty of Taiwan, an issue they suggest has seriously undermined its ability to deal with the crisis and tarnished its credibility as an organisation tasked with protecting the world.

President Trump now threatens to revoke funding to the WHO, which would leave a potential deficit of around $400 million, or around 20% of the annual budget. The move would have serious implications for the WHOs function in responding to the pandemic, and also castrate its power for years to come.

To understand whether these criticisms are valid, we first need to understand what the WHO is.  We know that it is an agency of the United Nations tasked with international public health, but what power does it have? Let’s summarise:

  • The WHO has an annual budget of around $2 billion, around 1/10th the annual endowment of the average Ivy League University in the USA. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention alone has more than three times this budget.
  • The vast majority of the WHO’s income is made of voluntary, non-enforceable, contributions from member states and external organizations. The voluntary contributions create a situation where the organisation’s focus and priorities are determined by the donor.
  • With this budget, it is tasked with monitoring, coordinating and protecting international public health on issues ranging from smallpox, polio, ebola, malaria, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, cancer, malnutrition, substance abuse and of course, the coronavirus.
  • The WHO’s membership includes 194 member states, it is accountable to all of them.
  • The WHO has no powers to impose any penalties or sanctions on any of the member states that do not cooperate with its coordination or protection functions. Its ability is reliant upon the discretion of the member state in which it operates.
  • The WHO has no power to impose policies on member states in respect of health governance. It may only provide advice and make recommendations, and it is for the government of each country to implement such advice.

Within this context, it is easy to see how fragile the organisation is, compared to the task it is set out to achieve. As stated by Richard Horton, editor of the Lancet Medical Journal, the WHO ‘has been drained of power and resources, its coordinating authority and capacity are weak. Its ability to direct an international response to a life-threatening epidemic is non-existent.’ Due to these budgetary limitations, and the lack of enforcement capability, it must rely on good-will, co-operation and diplomacy in order to achieve its objectives.

Let us now examining the claim that the WHO has been slow to act in response to the coronavirus. I wrote an article on 1st April 2020 detailing some of the actions that the WHO has taken so far.

In summary,

  • The WHO was first notified of the emergence of a new virus on 31st December 2019.
  • By 5th January it had published its first risk assessment.
  • By 10th January, prior to a single death, it published a toolkit for countries around the world to build capacity to cope with the potential spread of the virus.
  • By 12th January, prior to a single case outside of China, the WHO released the genetic sequence to be shared with health authorities, laboratories and researches around the world to develop diagnostic kits.
  • By 21st January 2020, the WHO had completed a field visit to Wuhan, China and released the test kit to help other countries to detect the virus and confirmed that the virus could spread from person-to-person
  • By 25th January 2020, the WHO released a free online course on the coronavirus to educate health workers around the world.
  • Throughout February 2020, the WHO was issuing guidance for health ministers around the world relating to planning, operations, testing and diagnostic arrangements, and policy advice on social distancing and development of health infrastructure.

The WHO had therefore made enormous effort, in a very short time frame, to enable governments around the world to act promptly to limit the spread of the virus and protect their populations.

Much of the criticism relating to the speed of the WHO’s response focusses on the alleged failure to confirm whether the virus was capable of person-to-person transmission. This criticism focuses on a statement made by the WHO on 12th January 2020 which stated:

According to the preliminary epidemiological investigation, most cases worked at or were handlers and frequent visitors to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. The government reports that there is no clear evidence that the virus passes easily from person to person. WHO Statement, 12th January 2020

The allegation that the WHO stated that the virus could not be transmitted person-to-person is false. The statement was that the ‘preliminary epidemiological investigation’ and the governments reports made available to the WHO, there was ‘no clear evidence’ that the virus passes ‘easily’ from person-to-person, all of which was true from the WHO’s perspective at that time. The WHO made this statement noting that this was a new virus, that ‘not much was known’ by them at that time, and that more investigations would take place. By 12th January, the WHO had not even had the opportunity to conduct its own field visit to Wuhan, and had no means of independently verifying the extent of the virus’s transmissibility and therefore relied on the Chinese government’s reports. When they did, by 21st January 2020, the WHO was able to publish more detailed findings and confirmed that the virus was spreading from person-to-person. Again, the allegation that the WHO did not act quickly, is completely misleading.

Another allegation made against the WHO is that it is ‘China-centric’ and that its failure to dialogue with Taiwan has undermined its effectiveness and credibility. This criticism focusses on the language used by Director General Tedros Adhanom. On 28th January 2020, Tedros stated:

‘We appreciate the seriousness with which China is taking this outbreak, especially the commitment from top leadership, and the transparency they have demonstrated, including sharing data and genetic sequence of the virus.’ WHO, China leaders discuss next steps, statement on 28th January 2020

This statement and others, in which Tedros has praised China’s ‘leadership’, is deployed as evidence of WHO’s political bias towards China, especially in light of subsequent revelations that Chinese officials had deliberately covered up the extent of the virus’s harm and transmissibility in December. In addition, the fact that China was among the countries that nominated Tedros to become Director-General of WHO is used to indicate his political bias towards China.

Here, it is crucial to reflect on the fragility, budgetary limitations, lack of enforcement capability and precariousness of the WHO as an organisation, as set out above. The WHO has no powers to penalise China, or enforce its programme on the country whatsoever. The Chinese government is notoriously secretive and defensive, and the WHO’s top priority was to gain access to conduct relevant medical research for the benefit of all 194 of its member states and stop the spread of the virus. At any point during this process, it was possible for China to have prevented access and denied responsibility for the virus. It was necessary therefore, for the WHO to exercise diligence in its diplomacy to achieve its objectives.


The WHO was established in 1948 to advocate for universal healthcare and monitor, coordinate and protect international public health.


Within this context, it is commendable that the WHO has achieved enormous positive outcomes for countries all around the world. Apart from ensuring the genetic sequence and test kits were available worldwide, prior to the virus spreading beyond China. The WHO has sent expert medical teams and delegations to assist in Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Egypt and Italy. Since the beginning of the outbreak, the WHO has shipped more than 900 000 surgical masks, 62 000 N95 masks, 1 million gloves, 115 000 gowns, 17 000 goggles and 34 000 face shields to 133 countries and shipped COVID-19 testing kits to 126 countries. It prepared free training material used by tens of thousands of healthcare workers worldwide. It gathered $675 million to limit transmission and provide early care, to fund research and innovation in developing a vaccine, and a further $113 million from private donors through a global solidarity fund to help the world’s least developed countries, an initiative never previously undertaken by the WHO. All of this, at a time when many of the world’s countries have been hoarding their own supply of protective equipment, and even preventing their distribution to neighbouring countries.

It is understandable that one might have preferred Tedros to have been more affirmative in criticising the Chinese government at an early stage, but upon looking at the substance of the WHOs actions in protecting countries all around the world and the positive outcomes of his engagement with China within the boundaries of his power and mandate, it is unjustifiable to accuse the WHO of China-centricity. On the contrary, the WHO has championed international solidarity for the benefit of all of its member states at a time when nation states are focussed upon their own populations.

In respect of Taiwan, it is alleged that the WHO has ignored requests for direct dialogue with Taiwan which has undermined the WHOs credibility to be protecting all of humanity. Again, it is crucial to understand the WHO’s role. The WHO’s constitution is to monitor, coordinate and protect its member state in international public health. Taiwan is not a member of the United Nations, nor is it a member of WHO. This is not the fault of the WHO, but is a legitimate concern to be addressed by the United Nations and its member states. The WHO has no mandate, nor prerogative nor power to dialogue with Taiwan.

At a time when the WHO is tasked with the greatest international public health crisis for generations, with accountability towards 194 member states, it would be ill-conceived for Tedros to use his position to go beyond his mandate, and express his personal opinion on questions of political sovereignty for Taiwan, Hong Kong or for any other region around the world aspiring for self-determination. It is nonetheless a relief, and to the credit of health officials within Taiwan, that the region has been incredibly resilient and achieved relatively few cases of infection and death.

It is crucial that national governments take primary responsibility for the spread of the virus, and not divert blame towards the WHO. At the moment, it is national governments that have the budgets and necessary powers to protect their populations. It is becoming clear, through the wildly divergent development of infections and deaths when comparing different countries, that governments do have power to influence the spread of the virus within their own countries.

In the UK, the rapid pace of the virus’ spread and the rising death toll, were in part due to the significant delay in implementing a health strategy to defeat the virus. As Richard Horton, editor of the Lancet medical journal stated, after the WHO declared a public health emergency, ‘countries, especially western countries, didn’t listen. Or didn’t seek to understand what was actually taking place in China’. In the USA, even up to the end of February when dozens of cases had been confirmed through the country, President Trump described the coronavirus as a ‘hoax’ and urged the population to not take it seriously. The delay in acting has potentially caused thousands of additional fatalities.

In conclusion, none of the criticisms made against the WHO stand up to scrutiny. On the contrary, the WHO has acted with integrity, foresight and speed in the spirit of international solidarity. It has deployed its limited resources and capabilities to help ensure that countries around the world are able to contain and cope with the spread of the virus in difficult circumstances.

If our concern is that the WHO should have been more forceful in its relationship with China, the solution is to ensure that the WHO has better powers and a larger budget so that it has the means to exercise greater influence over nation states to the protect the international community as a whole. It is imperative that we act now to resist any threat made by world leaders to further limit the budget or power of the WHO. As Tedros said at the G20 summit on 26th March 2020

We know that the price we end up paying depends on the choices we make now.
This is a global crisis that demands a global response.

First, fight. Fight hard. Fight like hell.
Fight like your lives depend on it – because they do.

We may speak different tongues and adhere to different creeds, but we are made of the same stuff. We are one human race.

We have relied upon WHO to protect the entire global community. It has shown solidarity towards people all around the world, as one human race. But the WHO needs us, in as much as we need it.  We must resist any demand from national leaders to disempower the WHO or withdraw funds. We need solidarity, and as Tedros said, we must fight like our lives depend on it – because they do.

Portugal Grants Full Citizenship Rights to Migrants in Response to Coronavirus

Portugal has temporarily granted all migrants and asylum seekers across the country full citizenship rights, giving them complete access to the country’s health care and removing all restrictions to their access to public resources and facilities.

The decision will “unequivocally guarantee the rights of all the foreign citizens” meaning they are “in a situation of regular permanence in National Territory,” until June 30, said the Portuguese Council of Ministers. Claudia Veloso, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Internal Affairs said “people should not be deprived of their rights to health and public service just because their application has not yet been processed,” adding that in these exceptional times, the rights of migrants must be guaranteed.

Portugal’s decision was welcomed on Monday by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic.

“(It is) a good practice to protect vulnerable people and society in response to the pandemic,” Mijatovic wrote on her Twitter account.

President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa

President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa called the Covid-19 pandemic “a true war,” which would bring true challenges to the country’s “way of life and economy.” The President also praised the behavior of Portuguese citizens, “who have been exemplary in imposing a self-quarantine,” reflecting “a country that has lived through everything.”

The decision is a spectacular act of solidarity in a time of crisis. The Portugese government has recognised that the war against Coronavirus can only be won when humanity stands together and that none of us are safe, unless we all are.

What exactly has the WHO done to protect us from the Coronavirus?

The Coronavirus pandemic has accelerated at an exponential rate. Around 1/2 of the world’s population is in lock down and countries in every continent have declared a state of war against the virus, but every day thousands of people continue to suffer and die.

The World Health Organization (WHO) was set up by the United Nations to be responsible for international public health. It has an annual budget of around $2.1 billion and 8,500 employees, working in 147 different countries. It’s worth asking, what exactly has it done to protect us from the greatest public health threat ever experienced in most of our lifetimes?

Let’s start at the beginning. The first alert relating to the Coronavirus was announced from Wuhan, China on 31st December 2019 where patients had been suffering with pneumonia from an unknown cause. Within days, the WHO started investigations at the country, regional and HQ level and by 5th January 2020 it published a risk assessment, advised on the public health response and announced that work was underway to identify the pathogen and trace the cause of the virus.

By 10th January 2020, prior to a single death resulting from the virus, the WHO developed and published a toolkit for countries around the world to check their ability to detect and respond to the virus. The toolkit was designed to assess risks and plan for additional investigations including, importantly, to build capacity for all countries to conduct tests across their populations.

By 12th January 2020, with only 41 confirmed cases within China and prior to a single confirmed case outside of China, the WHO announced that the genetic sequence of the Coronavirus had been found and would be shared with public health authorities, laboratories and researchers around the world to develop diagnostic kits.

By 21st January 2020, the WHO had completed a field visit to Wuhan China, observed and discussed surveillance processes, laboratory facilities, infenction prevention and control measures. Through the WHO, the Chinese Government released the test kit to help other countries detect the virus and shared definition guidelines and clinical management protocols across the world. These tests kits have been the foundation for hundreds of thousands of tests and have been vital in generating public health responses all around the world.

On 25th January 2020, with the death toll across China at 26 but none elsewhere, the WHO launched a free online course on the Coronavirus available in English, French, Spanish and Chinese. The course covered topics on why the Coronavirus is a global threat to human wealth and how communities and governments can respond to minimise risk and increase protection for populations everywhere. Additioanl course have since been developed and has trained tens of thousands of healthcare workers around the world and develop the skills necessary to contain its spread and provide treatment.

On 5th February 2020, after the first few cases of the virus spreading across continents, the WHO launced a $675 million prepareness and response plan to limit transmission, provide early care, communicate key information and minimize social and economic impacts. The fund helped establish international coordination and operational support,scaled up country readiness and response operations and accelerated priority research and innovation to detect, treat and develop a working vaccination for the virus.

On 17th February 2020, the WHO issued detailed guidance on mass gatherings for governments around the world, based on its experience from H1N1 and Ebola. The guidance covered issues relating to planning, operations, testings and diagnostic arrangements. The guidance propelled  worldwide governments action to limit mass gatherings around the world, which has significantly curtailed the speed of the virus’s transmission.

By 18th February 2020, the WHO had shipped supplied of personal protective equipment to 21 countries and helped ensure that 40 countries in Africa and 29 in the Americas had the necessary tools to detect the virus.

Throughout the whole of February, the WHO prepared and distributed separate detailed guidance for individuals, families, communities, workplaces, school, hospitals and public places on how to protect themselves and each other. The WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom, conducted briefings for government health ministers around the world on whats steps they must now take including in relation to testing, medical oxygen, ventilators and other vital equipment, policies in relation to limitating transmission and ensuring that health care staff were adequately trained.

By 3rd March 2020, the WHO had shipped half a million sets of personal protective equipment to 47 countries including gloves, medical masks, respirators, goggles, face sheilds, gowns and aprons. A detailed audit was completed to assess the global shortage, and an urgent message was communicated to governments that industry must increase manufacturing by 40% to meet global need.

On 5th March 2020, a public awareness campaign was spearheaded  by WHO, deploying influential personalities to use their power to mobilise the world population and respond effectively to the virus. The campaign, called Be Ready, urged people to Be Safe, by obeying tried and tested public health measures, Be Smart, by rejecting rumours and sharing information from trusted sources, and Be Kind, through addressing stigma, having compassion and looking after the most vulnerable and those in islation.

On 6th March 2020, the WHO issued a research and development roadmap for the virus, outlining research priorities in 9 key areas. These included the natural history of the virus, epidemiology, diagnostics, clinical management, ethical considerations and social sciences, as well as longer-term goals for therapeutics and vaccines.

On 19th March 2020, thoe WHO helped initiate a new Solidarity Response Fund to raise money from a wide range of donors to support the work of the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners to help countries respond to the pandemic. The fund, the first-of-its-kind, enables private individuals, corporations and institutions anywhere in the world to come together to directly contribute to global response efforts. The fund has so far raised $113 million from over 205,000 donors worldwide.

Throughout the whole of March 2020, the WHO sent expert medical delegations to some of the worst hit regions in counries in Europe, the Middle East and Asia Pacific. These delegations helped improve public health safety measures, advance epidemiological data collection and analysis and provided support  in the areas of clinical management, infection prevention and control, surveillance and risk communication.

On 25th March 2020, the WHO and United Nations issued a $2 billion appeal to fight Coronavirus in the most vulnerable countries, titled Invest in Humanity.  The fund will provide laboratory materials for testing, supplies to protect health workers and medical equipment to treat the sick. It will bring water and sanitation to places facing shortages, and will help humanitarian workers and supplies get to where they are needed most to support the global response against the virus.

In an epic speech on 26th March 2020, given at the G20 Extraordinary Leaders Summit on Covid-19, the Director General of WHO, Tedros Adhanom, who has led the WHO’s response over the past few months, issued an impassioned rallying cry for world leaders to unite across borders.

We may speak different tongues and adhere to different creeds, but we are made of the same stuff. We are one human race.

Fight. Unite. Ignite. And let our singular resolve be: never again. Tedros Adhanom, 26th March 2020

Tedros Adhanom, Director General, World Health Organization

The WHO has worked 24/7 and deployed all of its resources to help protect the whole world from the Coronavirus. Their work has operated on all frontiers from research and development, training of health staff, provision of equipment, guidance to governments, fundraising and facilitating expert medical delegations. They have acted with tremendous speed, foresight and integrity and helped ensure that governments worldwide are prepared and equipped to fight the virus together. In an era where national divisions have been splintering collective efforts to aid humanity, the WHO has been a beacon of international solidarity to overcome a common threat to us all.

Sikhs Around the World are Helping Thousands of Elderly People in Self-Isolation

Sikh communities around the world have mobilised to prepare and deliver food items and home cooked meals for elderly and vulnerable people in self isolation amid the coronavirus outbreak.

In New York, where the coronavirus has forced a shut down of many facilities, the Sikh Center of New York has prepared tens of thousands of home cooked meals to distribute to federal agencies in the area.

The meals are prepared in accordance with hygeine practices reccommended by the WHO and are vegetarian, comprising of rice, dry fruits and lentils. Himat Singh, coordinator of the American Gurudwara Prabhandak Committee (East Coast) stated ‘”The distributing agencies will provide the food packages to the elderly or people having trouble getting food at supermarkets, specially-abled, homeless and single parents who are looking after their kids and can’t go out”. The centre appealed to Gurdwaras all around the country to reach out to stranded individuals and communities at this time and offer their services.

In Sydney, Australia, Sikh communities have donated more than 1.5 tons of food for delivery to Australian residence unable to regularly shop for basic foods. Speaking with the The Daily Mail Australia, a Sikh volunteer truck-driver said that preference was given to the elderly, disabled and people at risk of serious complications of the coronavirus, but that their community would help anyone who calls them.

In the UK, the Nishkam project has been providing support for disadvantaged community for decades and became the first Sikh led charity to take ‘Langar’ to the streets, a tradition of providing food and essential items to all members of the community. Their intiative has brought together people of all backgrounds to come together to assist those in need.

This service to the community is deeply embedded in Sikh values. The Guru Granth Sahib, the central religious scripture of Sikhism states that ‘The true path to God lies in the service of our fellow beings’. This belief continues to fuel initiaves led by Sikh Gurdwara’s around the world to protect the displaced, homeless, elderly and vulnerable within and beyond their communities.

Image source: Sikh Volunteers Australia, Community Organization at