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Human security in times of Covid-19

Human security during Covid-19

As the Cold War ended, international actors began to notice that the threats being faced by individuals are no longer directly inflicted by outside factors, or the enemy of the state. As the core threat to people’s livelihood was no longer considered as physical, the traditional security approaches could no longer be used for the protection of the civilians

When distinguishing between traditional security and human security, one can refer to terms such as ‘hard security’ and ‘soft security’. With the former referring to inter-state conflict which requires responding with credible threat or actual military forces. Whereas, the latter tends to be internal and require a policy-based response.

The concept of human security advocates that by focusing on the well-being of individuals other sectors of security will benefit as a result of the domino effect. In fact, human security encompasses all matters of security, such as economy, environmental, social, political or even military.

The current Covid-19 outbreak falls under the category of a soft threat, therefore, in theory, a human focused approach would be most beneficial. 

Firstly, we have New Zealand. The island nation entered one of the strictest lockdowns at a very early stage, having barely a handful of confirmed cases. Initially, the extreme level 4 lockdown put a severe strain on the economy. However, now the majority of the state economy is back to normal and on Monday 8th June New Zealand moved to Alert Level 1. Therefore, indicating that the human focused measures put in place benefitted the country long-term.

For comparison, we can use a familiar case study of the UK. The European island entered their lockdown around the same time as New Zealand, however, the restriction of social distancing measures were slow in implementation. By prioritising the economy over safety of the people, the UK is continuing to spread the virus amongst its people as well as preventing the businesses from returning to their normal operations.

Overall, I believe that based on the responses taken by individual nations, we can identify the governments that put the security of their people first. We can also witness the effectiveness human security measures have on other sectors of security.

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