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Ebola, disease-control and the Security Council: from securitization to securing circulation

Ebola, disease-control and the Security Council: from securitization to securing circulation
Ebola, disease-control and the Security Council: from securitization to securing circulation
In 2014 the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) described the Ebola outbreak then ongoing in West Africa as ‘a threat to international peace and security’ (Resolution 2177). It was the first time a disease outbreak of natural origin had attracted language ordinarily applied to political violence. This article assesses the significance of Resolution 2177 as an instrument of health governance, with particular regard to the Council’s primary aim in the resolution: to bring about the lifting of state-imposed bans on travel to and from West Africa. As travel bans were arguably a harmful move to securitize a disease at the national level, the UNSC’s response might at first appear to have been an international-level attempt to remove Ebola from the realm of security policy for the sake of public health. However, the use of threat language in Resolution 2177, and the rapid mobilization of disease-control resources by some governments represented on the Council, suggests that some kind of security logic was driving the international response to Ebola. It was not the logic of securitization which some other governments, intent upon using borders as barriers to contagion, were apparently applying. Rather, to counteract this, the UNSC appears to have acted according to the security logic of governmentality whereby the health of populations (within and beyond West Africa) would be secured by facilitating cross-border circulation of people with medical expertise. The Council’s contribution to health governance on this occasion was to support a shift in security logic: from securitization to securing circulation.
Africa, Ebola, governmentality, health, securitization, United Nations Security Council
2057-3170
137 - 149
Enemark, Christian
004b6521-f1bb-426a-a37b-686c6a8061f6
Enemark, Christian
004b6521-f1bb-426a-a37b-686c6a8061f6

Enemark, Christian (2017) Ebola, disease-control and the Security Council: from securitization to securing circulation. Journal of Global Security Studies, 2 (2), 137 - 149. (doi:10.1093/jogss/ogw030).

Record type: Article

Abstract

In 2014 the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) described the Ebola outbreak then ongoing in West Africa as ‘a threat to international peace and security’ (Resolution 2177). It was the first time a disease outbreak of natural origin had attracted language ordinarily applied to political violence. This article assesses the significance of Resolution 2177 as an instrument of health governance, with particular regard to the Council’s primary aim in the resolution: to bring about the lifting of state-imposed bans on travel to and from West Africa. As travel bans were arguably a harmful move to securitize a disease at the national level, the UNSC’s response might at first appear to have been an international-level attempt to remove Ebola from the realm of security policy for the sake of public health. However, the use of threat language in Resolution 2177, and the rapid mobilization of disease-control resources by some governments represented on the Council, suggests that some kind of security logic was driving the international response to Ebola. It was not the logic of securitization which some other governments, intent upon using borders as barriers to contagion, were apparently applying. Rather, to counteract this, the UNSC appears to have acted according to the security logic of governmentality whereby the health of populations (within and beyond West Africa) would be secured by facilitating cross-border circulation of people with medical expertise. The Council’s contribution to health governance on this occasion was to support a shift in security logic: from securitization to securing circulation.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 6 October 2016
e-pub ahead of print date: 26 April 2017
Published date: 26 April 2017
Keywords: Africa, Ebola, governmentality, health, securitization, United Nations Security Council
Organisations: Politics & International Relations

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 401899
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/401899
ISSN: 2057-3170
PURE UUID: 71d02309-acc2-4d19-88bd-dba9834f8fe1
ORCID for Christian Enemark: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-1833-0927

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 24 Oct 2016 15:24
Last modified: 23 Jul 2022 04:09

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