Centre for International and Defence Policy

Centre for International and Defence Policy
Centre for International and Defence Policy

This means war? The securitization of Covid19

Thursday, January 14th 2021, 12:00-1:00 pm - Zoom Webinar.

The response to Covid19 is often framed as a war: the virus is an enemy; medical workers are described as being on the frontlines; the effort to treat patients is a battle.

Looking at this issue through the lens of securitization theory and exploring the impact of metaphors, this presentation examines the implications of framing pandemic response in martial terms, using historical and contemporary examples from around the world--both positive (e.g. unity of effort, national mobilization of resources) and negative (e.g. militarization of response, abrogation of civil liberties in deference to 'national security', a 'sacrifice calculus' whereby lives are commodified, etc.).  Special attention will be paid to the developing situation in Canada and the way in which securitization has lead to an increased role for the military.  

The presentation concludes with a discussion of the longer-term implications for such an approach.  Beyond the immediate crisis response we are currently in, how might this shift our understanding of security and the appropriate use of the military.  


Christopher Ankersen

Clinical Associate Professor
The Center for Global Affairs, NYU


Dr. ChristHoward G. Coombsopher Ankersen is Clinical Associate Professor at the Center for Global Affairs, where he teaches in the Transnational Security concentration. He is the faculty lead for the Global Risk specialization. 

Prior to joining NYU, Christopher worked for the United Nations.  He held positions at the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok; the UN Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials in Phnom Penh; the UN Offices in Geneva and Vienna; and with the Department of Safety and Security in New York, where he was Desk Officer for Iraq.  

From 2002 to 2004, Dr. Ankersen was Ralf Dahrendorf Scholar at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He has taught at the LSE, the London Centre for International Relations, King’s College London, Carleton University, and the Royal Military College of Canada and has lectured at staff colleges in Canada, Australia, and Denmark. From 2000 to 2005, he acted as a strategy consultant to militaries, governments and private firms in the UK and Canada. From 1988 to 2000, Dr. Ankersen was an officer in the Canadian Forces, serving in Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, including on overseas missions with the UN and NATO.

He has produced a number of publications on international relations and strategic studies, including The Politics of Civil-Military Cooperation and three edited volumes: The Future of Global Affairs, Understanding Global Terror, and Civil-Military Cooperation in Post-Conflict Operations.