COVID-19 exposes global vulnerability

Dylan Chawawa

Today’s world security is mainly centred on the conventional military security, popularly known as traditional security. In the traditional definition of security of a State, the threat to the security system is totally of a military nature. It is mainly about essential values of a State, territorial integrity and political sovereignty. In this type of security, States tend to focus on proliferation of weapons, military alliances and counter-terrorism. The core struggle is survival and influence.

The interconnectedness of the world has brought in new people-oriented threats. Today’s world has become an insecure place full of threats on many fronts.

Protracted crises and pandemics induce economic hardships and attenuate prospects for stability and development.

The novel coronavirus constitutes the greatest threat to human security since the Spanish flu hundred years ago. COVID-19 has changed the way we live, societal relationships and indeed, some have alluded to, what it is to be human.

The devastating effects of COVID-19 on security led the disease to be declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The virus has become a global health crisis claiming lives, imposing economic hardships, causing a staggering rise in unemployment and hunger in the global south in particular.

However, traditional security thinking fails to deal with the new security issues presented by COVID-19.

The virus has thrust more than a few insights about the reality at hand.

The pandemic constitutes existential threats to human security that are not amenable to solutions by a military stanza, yet they go into the centre of national security.

In the post-COVID-19 world, security should encompass the whole of society and mankind.

Human security brings cynosure idealistic dimensions related to feeling safe such as freedom from dignity, freedom from want and freedom from fear.

The concept broadens the scope of security to the security of the people and the locus of risk is human-centric.

There is need to shift to human security in the post-COVID-19 world because it acknowledges that health for all depends on a robust healthcare system.

The absence of strong healthcare systems in both the global north and south is making it harder to fight the virus.

The world was caught unawares by a deadly virus.

States are running out of oxygen supplies and protective clothing.

The testing capacity is limited all over the world to cope up with the speed of the virus.

The post-COVID-19 world should consider how pandemics can overwhelm economic systems and destroy livelihoods.

The human security concept is fundamental because it calls for the building of capacity for healthcare systems, public enlightenment and protection of the vulnerable.

Caring for people’s health, providing food and a good environment must be the main objectives.

To achieve this, there is need to make strategies and move away from traditional security which calls for wastage of money on fuelling the arms race.

Working on human security in the post-COVID-19 world is key because it calls for international co-operation.

The world can only fight diseases, disasters and climate change when there is multi-stakeholder partnership. When the virus broke out in Wuhan, China, governments, civil society and local communities failed to realise that they could contain the outbreak.

This is because the concept of security was centred on realism. When the outbreak began, the world displayed what should never be seen again.

Chinese citizens in other countries were highly discriminated against and treated with hate because all the blame was heaped on them.

At one point the then President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, referred to the virus as “Chinese virus”.

The world failed to realise that a virus originating anywhere is a threat to everyone, everywhere.

The pandemic is really an acid test for international co-operation — a test the world has failed.

There is need for further solidarity over isolation because health insecurity in the form of a virus knows no borders.

One of the most important things COVID-19 has taught the world is that the concept of security must be broadened.

There is need to perfect human security because it is founded on the principle of prevention.

The virus caught the world off-guard, nations ill-prepared to fight obstacles presented by the highly contagious disease.

There is need for the world to fund scientific researches and programmes to foresee pandemics and climate change issues.

National and international mechanisms to protect people, not only from previous threats but coming ones, also need to be built.

WHO is essential but it is broken.

The world blame WHO for failing to sound an alarm in time as it should have researched much on the virus before the outbreak.

The organisation should be refurbished so that it will not be found wanting in future.

  •  Dylan Chawawa is an international trade and diplomacy student at the University of Zimbabwe. He writes here in his personal capacity.
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