There have been a number of recent shifts in political and cultural landscapes that have set in motion several trends that could greatly impact security on a global level. Some of the most prominent of these shifts have been the result of increased globalization, human health security, environmental security, and securitization. To help deepen their current understanding of world security, international relations professionals should stay abreast of the following four trends involving international security.
The steady increase in globalization – businesses embracing international integration and influence into its operations – has brought with it many changes to society, which have heightened concern for international security. For example, the international security landscape as a whole tends to function as a holistic process that adapts to changes over time. However, with the quick rate of globalization, many nations are not equipped to maintain the security and integrity of their borders, which could lead to the entry of illegal weapons, drugs and contraband. The advancement of communication technologies has also been a major component of globalization, allowing even problematic groups, such as drug rings or human smuggling groups, to form vast networks.
Improving Human Health Security & Living Conditions
Human health is one of the most humanitarian aspects of international security and focuses on protecting humans from dangerous health threats so all individuals can live a life free of disease. Over the past decade, some of the most prominent factors influencing human health security have been pandemics, poverty, and underdeveloped communities. The Zika epidemic, in particular, has been of major focus, with over 70 countries having reported evidence of the virus since 2015. In response, the World Health Organization (WHO) made a long-term commitment on November 18, 2016, to help alleviate this public health emergency and improve living and security conditions on a domestic and international level.
According to The Hill blog, the effect of globalization and climate change on the environment is expected to impact the state of global security as well. With limited rainfall in multiple regions and the reduction of available fresh water, frequent droughts are likely to decrease farm yields, diminishing food security in a number of areas. As the residents of impoverished states feel the pains of resource scarcity, domestic and international conflict may arise as a perceived solution to the economic hardship. Diplomatic relations between countries will be a high priority to ensure the security of the domestic and international environment.
Securitization is the process by which certain issues become labeled as security issues, and it has played a large role in molding a number of international security policy areas since the Cold War. Due to its often extreme measures, the use of securitization can be controversial. For example, when a state uncovers potential threats, such as terrorism, cyber threats, disease or resource hazards, the freedom of their society may be constrained by strict emergency responses. These strict measures can also restrict economic development, so much so that economic experts argue that securitization is rarely necessary. Given the current economic and social climate, infringing upon the economy and social liberties in times of crisis can be dangerous, so the use of securitization should be closely monitored for optimal economic, security and social development.
Though global entities exist to advocate for security in struggling states, globalization has brought many new concerns to the international relations table. As human health security, environmental stability and securitization continue to also become important public issues, citizens will put more pressure on their government to protect their interests. When these interests are not protected, governments may face the risk of civil unrest, the emergence of illegal activity and goods, as well as an unstable economy, all of which could impact domestic and international security.
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Zika Virus and Complications: 2016 Public Health Emergency of International Concern, World Health Organization