Covid-19: From securitisation to global health security

Activity: Talk or presentationSeminar


I began by clarifying the notion of securitisation, which can be understood as the invocation, on the part of a securitizing actor, of an existential threat demanding extraordinary measures. This means that securitization can lead to exceptions to existing rules, but also to changes in the rules themselves. Securitization is not inherently good or bad, but it is dangerous since it can reduce the space for political participation and democratic deliberation. By being an effect of power, securitization also tends to privilege powerful actors and the views of elites. This lends securitization particularly prone to being instrumentalized by elites and resulting in the abuse of weaker groups in society (including minorities). In what regards the securitization in the case of Covid-19, it is important to distinguish between the securitization of the disease and the securitization of minorities during responses to the disease. I focused on the former. I argued that, when successful, the securitization of the disease led to restrictions of movement and circulation, as well as to lockdowns which were justified in the na,e of the common good and the protection of vulnerable groups. This securitization was positive in that it saved lives and avoided suffering, in contrast with countries (like the USA and Brazil), where the securitization of the disease was opposed by populist governments in the name of the "economy" and "individual freedoms", while being shaped by denialism of the severity of the crisis. However, securitization of the disease was contradictory in that it also revealed and, in some cases, exacerbated vulnerabilities. This is because it happened in the context of a neoliberal world order whhich has resulted in rising inequalities and precarization of lives and working conditions. It also happened in the context of the retreat of multilateralism and international solidarity. In some cases, securitization was also instrumentalized by leaders to help advance their own power or political projects. Overall, then, what we need is not the desecuritization of Covid-19, but rather its embedding within a worldview of global health security that is cognizant of inequalities and difference, that seeks to redress vulnerabilities, that privileges the experiences of the most vulnerable and that sees this as an inherently collective endeavour.
Period7 Apr 2021
Event titleCovid-19: Securitisation, Minorities, Diversity
Event typeSeminar
Degree of RecognitionInternational