COVID-19: A wake-up call for non-traditional security

  • Security doesn’t just mean other countries

Dr Imran Ali Sandano

In the changing global security environment, the security agenda of the states, regional and international organizations have been broadened dramatically.

Long ago, security policies and practices of states were mostly limited to countering the threats of survival, mainly posed by direct engagement with other states. It emphasized on them spending more on military capabilities.

In spite of the fact that inter-states security threats prevails significantly, especially in different hot spots of the world, the widespread and growing series of transnational non-traditional security (NTS) threats cannot be ignored.

NTS threats have opened new fronts to tackle. The threats like energy crisis, food crisis, environmental degradation, terrorism, extremism and separatism, drug trafficking, water insecurity, economic crisis, maritime piracy, money laundering, transnational crimes and pandemic diseases are irregular, and difficult to tackle. These issues are diverse and interconnected, and which cannot be tackled by any single strategy, country, government or organization.

In academia, the concept of non-traditional security is the product of the post-Cold War era and it is actually the amalgamation of different concepts of international security and international relations like, constructivist security, post-colonialist security, critical security, feminist security, post-structuralist security, the Copenhagen school and human security.

NTS breaks the limited paradigm of national-centric security– the traditional security doctrine. Human security is one of the prominent concepts of underdeveloped countries, of how to meet the human security needs like, health, food, environment, population growth, and the gap between economic opportunities, among others. High defence expenditures and corruption is a great obstacle for these countries to overcome.

Covid-19 has opened new fronts to tackle. It is crossing all the obstacles of nationalities, religions, colours and the international class system. It is also increasingly damaging the world economy, the world’s demography and may change the world order as a whole. It is high time for the nation states to revisit their stances before formulating their security policies. The present situation is giving an open and loud wake-up call for non-traditional security. Policy makers should decide either they are willing to fight the real enemy– NTS threats like covid-19 – which have no respect for developed, developing or under-developed states, or to keep their traditional security, which might be familiar, but which may no longer be relevant.

Human security guarantees improved healthcare. The glossary of bio-security is increasingly discernible at the vanguard of the global agenda. The emergence and spread of pandemic diseases are causes of concerns, as they are a risk to the health and lives of the people.

The growing population and changing dynamics in systems of social, ecological, technological and biological processes have given rise to new kinds of diseases which exploit ecological niches. Modern forms of diseases are like South Asian Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), HIV-aids, dengue, Congo virus, brain-eating amoeba, bird flu and now coronavirus disease (covid-19).

The reasons for the spread of these diseases are ripe conditions for their cells to breed on, which include pollution, unhealthy practices, standing waters on roads and homes, lack of regular cleaning. Poverty and illiteracy have also paved the way for such diseases.

The current covid-19 outbreak is one of the new NTS issues and the biggest challenge for the world since World War II. Countries around the world have imposed a series of measures, including restricting people’s movements and closing most businesses, to curb the spread of the virus.

No doubt, diseases have always been a reason for deaths. But growing advancement in the fields of science, medicine and technology allows humans to live long through better medicines to cure and modern forms of surgery, and machinery.

There are a number of efforts which have been taken to develop a vaccine for covid-19, and luckily a few have succeeded. On the other hand a new variant of the virus has been identified across the South East of England. It has opened a challenge to tackle.

Covid-19 is a very difficult challenge for all (developed, developing and underdeveloped) states. It has threatened the traditional attitude of the diplomatic mindset and forced them (especially the USA and China) to cooperate with each other.

No doubt the global transition of the security environment has changed the nature of conflicts and threats. But covid-19– as an NTS threat– has opened new fronts to tackle. It is crossing all the obstacles of nationalities, religions, colours and the international class system. It is also increasingly damaging the world economy, the world’s demography and may change the world order as a whole.

It is high time for the nation states to revisit their stances before formulating their security policies. The present situation is giving an open and loud wake-up call for non-traditional security. Policy makers should decide either they are willing to fight the real enemy– NTS threats like covid-19 – which have no respect for developed, developing or under-developed states, or to keep their traditional security, which might be familiar, but which may no longer be relevant.

 The writer is Assistant Professor at Department of International Relations, University of Sindh, Jamshoro, and can be reached at [email protected]

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