Securitizing Infectious Disease
Over the past decade there has been an increased awareness in the field of international relations of the potential impact of an infectious disease epidemic on national security. While states' attempts to combat infectious disease have a long history, what is new in this area is the adoption at the international level of securitized responses regarding the containment of infectious disease. This article argues that the securitization of infectious disease by states and the World Health Organization (WHO) has led to two key developments. First, the WHO has had to assert itself as the primary actor that all states, particularly western states, can rely upon to contain the threat of infectious diseases. The WHO's apparent success in this is evidenced by the development of the Global Outbreak Alert Response Network (GOARN), which has led to arguments that the WHO has emerged as the key authority in global health governance. The second outcome that this article seeks to explore is the development of the WHO's authority in the area of infectious disease surveillance. In particular, is GOARN a representation of the WHO's consummate authority in the area of coordinating infectious disease response or is GOARN the product of the WHO's capitulation to western states' concerns with preventing infectious disease outbreaks from reaching their borders and as a result, are arguments expressing the authority of the WHO in infectious disease response premature?