Whose Interests is the Securitization of Health Serving?

Authored by: Debra L. DeLaet

Routledge Handbook of Global Health Security

Print publication date:  August  2014
Online publication date:  August  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415645478
eBook ISBN: 9780203078563
Adobe ISBN: 9781136155574


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In an age when national security concerns continue to dominate both the domestic and foreign policy agendas of many states, securitization has become an increasingly common phenomenon. Securitization involves the practice of constructing and framing specific phenomena as national security issues (Waever 1995: 57–58). Securitization dynamics have shaped a wide range of policy arenas, including issues like “terrorism” and immigration (with its connections to border control) that purportedly have fundamental associations with traditional national security concerns. More interestingly, states and other actors are increasingly securitizing policy areas that traditionally have been conceptualized as existing outside of the realm of national security, including human rights and the environment. Global health initiatives have not been resistant to this trend, and international organizations, states, and nongovernmental organizations increasingly frame global health challenges as potential national security issues (Fidler 2007: 41–66). The logic of securitization suggests that policy areas will accrue benefits, namely increased saliency, prioritization, and funding, via being framed as national security issues. The successful securitization of HIV/AIDS as a global health challenge is a prominent case in point. The priority status of HIV/AIDS on the global health agenda is due, in part, to the fact that this issue has been successfully framed as a threat to security at both the national and global levels.

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