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How to Put Human Security at the Center of the Response to Coronavirus

Author: Calin Trenkov-Wermuth

Affiliation: U.S. Institute of Peace 

Organization/Publisher: U.S. Institute of Peace

Date/Place: April 10, 2020/USA

Type of Literature: Analysis and Commentary

Word Count: 1615 


Keywords: Coronavirus, Human Security, Security Sector


The Coronavirus pandemic will bring enormous challenges mainly in the security sector, justice, and governance unless paramount attention is given to human security in efforts to contain the spread of the pandemic. Several governments across the world have been adopting extraordinary measures including declaring states of emergency and using extra-judicial powers. In the fight against the virus, various branches of security-sector governance such as police and armed forces, border control authorities, prison administration, community policing groups, and militias are playing an active role to restrain the virus’ spread. The activities to contain the virus include quarantining communities, dissolving crowds, banning cross-border movement of fellow people, and implementing social distancing rules. Similarly, security actors in different countries have been pursuing egregious and violent responses which lead to deranging the rule of law, aggravating violent conflicts in conflict-prone areas, perpetuating fragility and enabling violent extremist groups to take advantage of the emergency condition. The security sector approach must prioritize human security—the protection of people and communities first, not of state and its officials. The article suggests eight ways to prioritize human security and deal with the virus effectively, namely: give priority to people’s safety and security, embrace the U.N. Secretary-General’s call for a global cease-fire and stop all warfare, refrain from any form of violence and respect human rights, reduce prison population, clarify functions and ensure accountability of security actors, coordination of civilian and military activities, cooperate with non-state armed groups and community policing, and enforce anti-corruption rules. 

By: Jemal Muhamed, CIGA Research Associat



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