By Rafaela Garcia Guimarães (Master in Human Rights from the School of Law of the University of Minho)
The approach to health as a security issue is supported by the theory of securitization developed by researchers from the Copenhagen School, according to which threats to security are socially constructed, through a speech act – whether oral, written, through images and other means of communication. Discourse acquires a fundamental role in the securitization process, as it is through the act of speech that the securitizing agent (usually an authority) exposes a demand to the public as a threat to its security – a threat that may or may not be real.
Health securitization occurs when a disease is presented to the public as an “existential threat”. This can happen with the onset of a disease with little scientific knowledge, no easily identifiable treatment or cure, high mortality or transmissibility, and especially when they are associated with a visceral fear of pain or suffering.
Securitization results in the adoption of exceptional measures, mainly due to their urgent nature, which may lead to containment, surveillance and coercion measures. Moreover, the policy of exception is presented to society as the only means of survival – and fear makes restrictive (and even suspensive) measures for the exercise of fundamental rights more easily accepted.Continue reading “The securitization of health: on the protests against the Chinese “zero-COVID” strategy”