What relationship exists between the health of individuals within a state and that state's national security? This question has received increased attention in recent years in the wake of the AIDS pandemic, Ebola, hantavirus, SARS, anthrax, and avian flu. Jared Diamond's book, Guns, Germs and Steel, which explicitly links infectious disease to the successes and failures of world populations, received the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction and remains popular years after its initial publication. Numerous policymakers and academics have called for a redefinition of national security to include health threats. Using the rubric of health security or human security, advocates assert that a population's health is of utmost importance to the state's ability to survive within the international system. Redefining national security to include issues of health and infectious disease makes the concept of security more relevant to the challenges states face in the post-Cold War era. In 2000, the United Nations Security Council held a special session devoted to AIDS and its challenge to international security—the first time that a public health issue had received such attention from the world's highest body. States like Canada and Denmark have explicitly included issues of health security and human security in their national foreign policies.
Full Text (PDF, 16 pages, 64.0 KB)