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The securitisation of avian influenza: international discourses and domestic politics in Asia

  • MELISSA G. CURLEY and JONATHAN HERINGTON
Abstract

Infectious disease outbreaks primarily affect communities of individuals with little reference to the political borders which contain them; yet, the state is still the primary provider of public health capacity. This duality has profound effects for the way disease is framed as a security issue, and how international organisations, such as the World Health Organization, assist affected countries. The article seeks to explore the role that domestic political relationships play in mediating the treatment of diseases as security issues. Drawing upon an analysis of the securitisation of avian influenza in Vietnam and Indonesia, the article discusses the effect that legitimacy, competing referents and audiences have on the external and internal policy reactions of states to infectious diseases, specifically in their interpretation of disease as a security threat. In doing so, we extend upon existing debates on the Copenhagen School's securitisation framework, particularly on the impact of domestic political structures on securitisation processes in non-Western, non-democratic and transitional states.

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3 Commission on Human Security, Human Security Now (New York: Commission on Human Security, 2003), p. 96 .

4 Buzan, Barry, Wæver, Ole and de Wilde, Jaap, Security: A New Framework For Analysis (London: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1998), p. 25 .

5 Other facilitating conditions posited by McInnes suggest that in order for a disease to be recognised as a security issue: ‘it must have substantial political effect; it cannot be dealt with nationally or has implications beyond national borders; and it has legitimacy as a security issue – a claim is made that the issue can be presented as a threat in security terms.’ (emphasis in original); McInnes, Kelley Lee and Colin, ‘A conceptual framework for research and policy’, in Ingram, (ed.), Health, Foreign Policy and Security: Towards a Conceptual Framework for Research and Policy (London: Nuffield Trust, 2004), p. 15 .

6 McInnes, Colin, Health, Security and the Risk Society (London: The Nuffield Trust, 2005), p. 13 ; Bill Durodié, ‘The Concept of Risk’ (London: The Nuffield Trust, 2005).

7 Enemark, Christian, Disease and Security: Natural Plagues and Biological Weapons in East Asia (London: Routledge, 2007), p. 8 .

8 Excluding HIV/AIDS, these diseases account for a very small number of deaths when compared to malaria, cholera or tuberculosis, see Glass, Roger I, ‘Perceived Threats and Real Killers', Science, 304 (2004) .

9 For the limits of the risk society, see Ulrich Beck, Living in the World Risk Society, Speech delivered 15 February 2006, London School of Economics and Political Science, London. Transcript available at: {http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/LSEPublicLecturesAndEvents/events/2006/20051215t1424z001.htm} accessed on 17 September 2008, p. 18.

10 Buzan, Wæver and de Wilde, Security, p. 31.

11 Balzacq, Thierry, ‘The Three Faces of Securitization: Political Agency, Audience and Context’, European Journal of International Relations, 11 (2005), p. 182 .

12 Stritzel, Holger, ‘Towards a Theory of Securitization: Copenhagen and Beyond’, European Journal of International Relations, 13 (2007), p. 369 .

13 Hansen, Lene, ‘The Little Mermaid's Silent Security Dilemma and the Absence of Gender in the Copenhagen School’, Millenium: Journal of International Studies, 29 (2000) ; and McSweeney, Bill, ‘Durkheim and the Copenhagen school: A response to Buzan and Wæver’, Review of International Studies, 24 (1998) ; Williams, Michael C., ‘Words, Images, enemies: Securitization and International Politics’, International Studies Quarterly, 47 (2003) .

14 Wilkinson, Claire, ‘The Copenhagen School on Tour in Kyrgyzstan: Is Securitization Theory Useable Outside Europe?’, Security Dialogue, 38 (2007), p. 8 .

15 Ibid., p. 7.

16 Ibid.

17 Grzymala-Busse, Anna and Luong, Pauline Jones, ‘Reconceptualizing the State: Lessons from Post-Communism’, Politics and Society, 30 (2002) .

18 Collins, Kathleen, ‘Clans, Pacts and Politics in Central Asia’, Journal of Democracy, 13 (2002) ; and Jackson, Nicole, ‘Human Trafficking in Post-Soviet Central Asia: A Critique of the Securitisation Framework’, in Curley, and Siu-lun, (eds), Security and Migration in Asia: The Dynamics of Securitisation (London: Routledge, 2008) .

19 Upadhyaya, Priyankar, ‘Securitisation Matrix in South Asia; Bangladeshi Migrants as Enemy Aliens', in Caballero-Anthony, , Emmers, and Acharya, (eds), Non-Traditional Security in Asia. Dilemmas in Securitization (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006) .

20 Ibid.

21 Wæver, Barry Buzan and Ole, Regions and Powers: The Structure of International Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003) .

22 Hoogensen, Gunhild, ‘Bottoms Up! A Toast to Regional Security’, International Studies Review, 7 (2005), pp. 271272 .

23 Balzacq, ‘The Three Faces of Securitization: Political Agency, Audience and Context’, p. 172.

24 Ibid., p. 180.

25 Ibid., p. 184.

26 Vuori, Juha A., ‘Illocutionary Logic and Strands of Securitization: Applying the Theory of Securitisation to the Study of Non-Democratic Political Orders', European Journal of International Relations, 14 (2008) .

27 Ibid., p. 69.

28 Ibid., p. 68.

29 Ibid.

30 See Ibid; Caballero-Anthony, Mely, Emmers, Ralf and Acharya, Amitav (eds), Non-traditional security in Asia: dilemmas in securitization (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006) ; and Curley, Melissa and Wong, Siu-lun (eds), Security and Migration in Asia: The Dynamics of Securitisation (London: Routledge, 2008) .

31 Liow, Joseph, ‘Malaysia's Approach to Indonesian Migrant Labour: Securitization, Politics, or Catharsis?’, in Caballero-Anthony, , Emmers, and Acharya, (eds), Non-Traditional Security in Asia: Dilemmas in Securitization (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006) ; see also Introduction, Conclusion and chapter by Wishnick, Elizabeth, ‘The Securitisation of Chinese Migration to the Russian Far East’, in Curley, and Siu-lun, (eds), Security and Migration in Asia: The Dynamics of Securitisation (London: Routledge, 2008) .

32 Vuori, ‘Illocutionary Logic and Strands of Securitization’, p. 69.

33 Ibid. This is precisely the contradiction identified in Joseph Liow's critique of the securitisation framework in his examination of Malaysia's approach to Indonesian migrant labour Liow, ‘Malaysia's Approach to Indonesian Migrant Labour’, pp. 61–2.

34 Vuori, ‘Illocutionary Logic and Strands of Securitization’, p. 70.

35 Lee, Kelley and Fidler, David P, ‘Avian and pandemic influenza: Progress and problems with health governance’, Global Public Health, 2 (2007), p. 218 .

36 Recent advances within the International Health Regulations, although extending the WHO's powers, do not fundamentally change the reliance on states to accurately report see Ibid., p. 221.

37 Lee, Kelley, ‘Understandings of global health governance: the contested landscape’ in Kay, and Williams, (eds), Global Health Governance: Crisis, Institutions and Political Economy (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009) .

38 Davies, Sara E, ‘Securitizing Infectious Disease’, International Affairs, 84 (2008) ; and Elbe, Stefan, ‘Should HIV/AIDS be securitized? The ethical dilemmas of linking HIV/AIDS and security’, International Studies Quarterly, 50 (2006) .

39 World Health Organisation, World Health Report 2007: A Safer Future – Global Public Health Security in the 21st Century (Geneva: World Health Organisation, 2007) .

40 Davies, ‘Securitising infectious disease’. p. 301.

41 Lee and Fidler, ‘Avian and pandemic influenza’, p. 221.

42 The majority of studies have focused on the discourse in developed countries or at the international level. See Alexander Kelle. Discourses on the Securitisation of Public Health – a Survey of Four Countries (2006), available at: {http://www.brad.ac.uk/acad/sbtwc/regrev/kelle_securitisationPH.pdf} accessed on 11 March 2009)

43 Rushton, J, Viscarra, R, Bleich, E Guerne and McLeod, A, ‘Impact of avian influenza outbreaks in the poultry sectors of five South East Asian countries (Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Thailand, Viet Nam) outbreak costs, responses and potential long term control’, World's Poultry Science Journal, 61 (2005), pp. 492493 .

44 Ibid., pp. 496, 499.

45 World Health Organisation, WHO/WPRO – Officially Confimed Human Influenza A/H5N1 Cases (23 August 2007), available at: {http://www.wpro.who.int/sites/csr/data/data_Tables.htm} accessed on 31 August 2007.

46 Data extracted from World Health Organisation, WHO/WPRO – Human Avian Influenza A/H5N1 Cases by Onset Date, available at: {http://www.wpro.who.int/sites/csr/data/data_Graphs.htm} accessed 10 September 2007.

47 Capua, Alessandro Cristalli and Ilaria, ‘Practical Problems in Controlling H5N1 High Pathogenicity Avian Influenza at Village Level in Vietnam and Introduction of Biosecurity Measures', Avian Diseases, 51 (2007), p. 462 .

48 See Ministry of Health (MOH) and Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), Vietnam: Integrated National Plan for Avian Influenza Control and Human Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response (Vietnam: Socialist Republic of Vietnam, 2006), p. 1 .

49 Vu, Tuong, The Political Economy of Avian Influenza Response and Control in Vietnam, STEPS Working Paper 19 (Brighton: STEPS Centre, 2009), p. 15 .

50 Normile, Dennis, ‘Vietnam Battles Bird Flu … and Critics’, Science, 309 (2005) p. 368 .

51 ‘Prompt action ordered to contain bird flu’, Saigon Times Daily (9 February 2004); ‘Gov't acts strongly against bird flu – Int'l organizations help Vietnam fight epidemic’, Saigon Times Daily (5 February 2004).

52 Normile, ‘Vietnam Battles Bird Flu’, pp. 368–70.

53 Van, Hong, ‘Ministry requests VND100 billion to vaccinate fowls’, Saigon Times Daily (26 May 2005) .

54 Nguyen, Son, ‘Awareness the key deadlock’, Saigon Times Daily (4 November 2005) ; Cuong, Hong Van and Bac, ‘Ten Provinces Report Bird Flu, Pandemic Feared Nearing’, Saigon Times Daily (14 November 2005) ; and Van, Hong and Ngoc, Minh, ‘Retailers in city plan to take poultry meat off shelves', Saigon Times Daily (9 November 2005) .

55 Van, Bac Cuong and Hong, ‘Gov't meets to lay out emergency plan to fight bird flu’, Saigon Times Daily (18 October 2005) ; and Van, Hong, ‘City, neighbouring provinces join forces to bird flu’, Saigon Times Daily (25 November 2005) .

56 Van, Cuong and, ‘Gov't meets to lay out emergency plan to fight bird flu’; Son Nguyen, ‘More resources needed to contain bird flu’, The Saigon Times Daily (21 January 2005) ; Van, Hong, ‘Vietnam culls 90,000 fowls in one day’, Saigon Times Daily (30 November 2005) ; ‘Fight against bird flu continues', Vietnam News Agency Bulletin (27 April 2005); and ‘Deputy PM calls on people to fight bird flu’, Vietnam News Agency Bulletin (13 March 2007).

57 Bracketed comments are from original Resolution 15/2005/NQ-CP, ‘Resolution on Urgent Measures to Prevent the Avian Influenza Epidemic (H5N1) and Type-A (H5N1) Human Influenza Pandemic’, (Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, 2005).

58 ‘Deputy PM calls on people to fight bird flu’, Vietnam News Agency Bulletin (13 March 2007).

59 Fleck, Fiona, ‘How SARS changed the world in less than six months’, Bulletin of the World Health Organisation, 81 (2003), p. 626 .

60 Abuza, Zachary, Renovating politics in contemporary Vietnam (Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2001), p. 21 .

61 Abrami, Regina M, ‘Vietnam in 2002: On the Road to Recovery’, Asian Survey, 43 (2003), p. 91 .

62 Abuza, Renovating politics in contemporary Vietnam, p. 22.

63 See Ministry of Health (MOH) and Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), Integrated National Operational Program for Avian and Human Influenza (Vietnam: Socialist Republic of Vietnam, 2006), p. i .

64 ‘Flu pandemic could kill more people than expected: Deputy PM’, Thanh Nien Daily (9 November 2005).

65 See MOH and MARD, Integrated National Operational Program, p. 7.

66 Nguyen, ‘More resources needed to contain bird flu’.

67 MOH and MARD, Vietnam: Integrated National Plan for Avian Influenza Control, p. 11.

68 Organisation, World Health, Global Tuberculosis Control: Surveillance, Planning, Financing – WHO Report 2007 (Geneva: World Health Organisation, 2007), pp. 153, 156 ; and Organisation, Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and World Health, AIDS Epidemic Update – December 2006 (Geneva: World Health Organisation, 2006), p. 30 . The authors are aware that PEPFAR funding of up to US $36 million was provided to Vietnam during the same period, but this was targeted aid rather than an investment from existing government revenue.

69 Area-culling involves the practice of identifying cases of avian influenza in poultry and then destroying all poultry within a certain radius of the infected flock (usually 3–5km), regardless of whether they exhibit signs of infection.

70 It is difficult to reconcile the notion of economic prosperity being ‘existentially threatened’, indeed Buzan, Wæver and de Wilde acknowledge the controversy in their chapter on economic referents in Security. Although ‘economic loss…(is)…part of the ordinary business of life, it is a matter not of degree but of a possible collapse of welfare’ (Buzan et al., Security, p. 102); in this sense, the claim made by the Vietnamese government is consistent with the use of the term ‘existentially threatened’ as described by Buzan et al.

71 Hong Van, ‘Neighbors clash over poultry transport precautions’, The Saigon Times Daily (14 Janaury 2005); Vu, The Political Economy of Avian Influenza in Vietnam, p. 46.

72 Vu, The Political Economy of Avian Influenza in Vietnam, p. 46.

73 Vu's recent study highlights this ongoing tension, but re-affirms that ‘tough measures’ were taken by the central government, in some cases to the detriment of disease control policies (ibid.). Also see Hong Van, ‘Health Official Calls for More International Aid’, Saigon Times Daily (3 November 2005).

74 Sedyaningsih, , Isfandari, , Setiawaty, , Rifati, , Harun, , Purba, , Imari, , Giriputra, , Blair, , Putnam, , Uyeki, and Soendoro, , ‘Epidemiology of Cases of H5N1 Virus Infection in Indonesia, July 2005–June 2006’, Journal of Infectious Diseases, 196 (2007), p. 522 ; and Smith, , Naipospos, , Nguyen, , de Jong, , Vijaykrishna, , Usman, , Hassan, , Nguyen, , Dao, , Bui, , Leung, , Cheung, , Rayner, , Zhang, , Poon, , Li, , Nguyen, , Hien, , Farrar, , Webster, , Chen, , Peris, and Guan, , ‘Evolution and adaptation of H5N1 influenza virus in avian and human hosts in Indonesia and Vietnam’, Virology, 350 (2006), p. 264 .

75 World Health Organisation, Cumulative Number of Confirmed Human Cases of Avian Influenza A/(H5N1) Reported to WHO, available at: {http://www.who.int/csr/disease/avian_influenza/country/cases_table_2009_03_30/en/index.html accessed 3 April 2008.

76 Yang, Yang, Halloran, M Elizabeth, Sugimoto, Jonathan D and Longini, Ira M, ‘Detecting Human-to-Human Transmission of Avian Influenza A (H5N1)’, Emerging Infectious Diseases, 13 (2007) .

77 Witular, Rendi A, ‘Govt confirms bird flu after long cover-up’, Jakarta Post (26 January 2004), p. 1 .

78 The bird flu scare’, Jakarta Post (27 January 2004), p. 6.

79 Hakim, Zakki P, ‘Bird flu in RI limited to poultry only, for now’, Jakarta Post (6 October 2004), p. 13 ; LKBN Antara, ‘Regional Govts Spearheads of Fight Against Bird Flu, Minister Says', LKBN Antara (15 February 2006); and LKBN Antara, ‘Agriculture Minister: Only H5N1 virus infected poultry to be culled’, LKBN Antara (21 February 2006).

80 LKBN Antara, ‘WB Regrets Cut in Funds for Bird Flu Control in Indonesia’, LKBN Antara (24 August 2006); and Bank, World, Spending for Development: Making the Most of Indonesia's New Opportunities – Indonesia Public Expenditure Review 2007 (Washington: World Bank, 2007), p. 56 .

81 Rukmantara, Arie, ‘Committee to Prevent Pandemic’, Jakarta Post (7 January 2006), p. 2 .

82 Indonesian National Committee for Avian Influenza Control and Pandemic Influenza Preparedness, Committee Membership, available at: {http://www.komnasfbpi.go.id/aboutuscom_eng.html} accessed 11 September 2007.

83 ‘Minister: Govt Not to Change Policy to Combat Bird Flu’, LKBN Antara (28 March 2006); Witular, R. A, ‘Mass Cull Unfeasible: Minister’, Jakarta Post (12 November 2005), p. 1 ; Komandjaja, E. C, ‘WHO Urges Solid Action Plan to Prevent Bird Flu’, Jakarta Post (21 February 2004), p. 4 .

84 Alan Sipress, ‘Indonesia Neglected Bird Flu until Too Late, Experts Say’, Washington Post (20 October 2005), p. A01.

85 ‘Caging bird flu’, Jakarta Post (21 September 2005), p. 6; Fidrus, Sari P. Setiogi and Multa, ‘Bird flu outbreak devastating small poultry farms’, The Jakarta Post (13 February 2004), p. 3 ; ‘Certain regions not handling bird flu seriously: President’, LKBN Antara (28 November 2005).

86 Forster, Paul, The Political Economy of Avian Influenza in Indonesia, STEPS Working Paper 17, (Brighton: STEPS Centre, 2009) .

87 Enserink, Martin, ‘Indonesia Earns Flu Accord At World Health Assembly’, Science, 316 (2007) , The Lancet, ‘Global solidairty needed in preparing for pandemic influenza’, The Lancet, 369 (2007).

88 Siti Fadilah Supari, Statement by the Minister of Health of the Republic of Indonesia H.E Dr Siti Fadilah Supari at the 60th World Health Assembly, available at: {http://www.mission-indonesia.org/modules/news.php?lang=en&newsid=154&PHPSESSID=4af1c5827352dcbde4a38f046688c368} accessed 8 October 2007; William New, WHO Kicks Off Talks On Flu Pandemic, Benefits, Access To Vaccines, available at: {http://www.ip-watch.org/weblog/2007/11/21/who-kicks-off-talks-on-flu-pandemic-benefits-access-to-vaccines/} accessed on 12 March 2008.

89 Forbes, Mark, ‘US dismisses bird flu claims’, Sydney Morning Herald (21 February 2008), p. 9 , Enserink, ‘Indonesia Earns Flu Accord At World Health Assembly’. See n. 73 above.

90 Brian Walsh, Indonesia's Bird Flu Showdown, available at: {http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1619229,00.html} accessed on 12 June 2007.

91 World Health Assembly, ‘Pandemic influenza preparedness: sharing of influenza viruses and access to vaccines and other benefits', 2007 (WHA 60.28, 2007).

92 For more on the problems of decentralisation see Hadiz, Vedi R, ‘Power and Politics in North Sumatra: The Uncompleted Reformasi’, in Aspinall, and Fealy, (eds), Local Power and Politics in Indonesia: Decentralisation and Democratisation (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2003) ; and Hadiz, Vedi R, ‘Decentralization and Democracy in Indonesia: A Critique of Neo-Institutionalist Perspectives', Development and Change, 35 (2004) .

93 Chalk, Angel Rabasa and Peter, Indonesia's Transformation and the Stability of Southeast Asia (Santa Monica: RAND Corporation, 2001), pp. 23 .

94 Ibid., p. 48.

95 Hadiz, ‘Decentralization and Democracy in Indonesia’, p. 708.

96 ‘Health Minister Calls for Poultry Ban in Cities', Jakarta Post (19 February 2006), p. 1; ‘Stamping Out of Poultry Only at Highly Infected Farms', LKBN Antara (20 September 2005); and ‘Minister: Govt Not to Change Policy to Combat Bird Flu’, LKBN Antara (28 March 2006).

97 Sakai, Minako, ‘The Privatisation of Padang Cement: Regional Identity and Economic Hegemony in the New Era of Decentralisation’, in Aspinall, and Fealy, (eds), Local Power and Politics in Indonesia: Decentralisation and Democratisation (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2003), p. 160 .

98 ‘Agriculture Minister: Only H5N1 virus infected poultry to be culled’; and ‘Regional Govts Spearheads of Fight Against Bird Flu, Minister Says', LKBN Antara.

99 Butler, Declan, ‘Q & A: Siti Fadilah Supari’, Nature, 450 (2007) .

100 Brown, David, ‘Why might constructed nationalist and ethnic ideologies come into confrontation with each other?’, The Pacific Review, 15 (2002), p. 566 .

101 The legal reasoning behind the decision to withhold samples relied on the Convention on Biological Diversity – which asserts the rights of nations not to have their biosphere exploited, and protects them from the practice of pharmaceutical companies manufacturing unaffordable drugs from compounds found in a countries flora or fauna. For a critique of this reasoning, see Fidler, David P, ‘Influenza Virus Sample Sharing, International Law, and Global Health Diplomacy’, Emerging Infectious Diseases, 14 (2008) .

102 Forster, Avian Influenza in Indonesia; and Vu, Avian Influenza Response and Control in Vietnam.

103 Stritzel, ‘Towards a Theory of Securitization’, p. 372.

104 Vuori, ‘Illocutionary Logic and Strands of Securitization’, pp. 73, 75.

105 Elson, Robert, The Idea of Indonesia: A History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), p. 53.

106 This is not to say that all securitising moves by states in international forums are accepted, merely that they possess the legitimacy, formalised by instruments such as the UN charter, to ‘make the claim’.

107 See particularly the discussion (pp. 131–5) about relationships between rulers, elites and peasants in Elson, Robert E, ‘International Commerce, the State and Society: Economic and Social Change’, in Tarling, (ed.), The Cambridge History of Southeast Asia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992) .

108 Balzacq, ‘The Three Faces of Securitization’, p. 183.

109 Vuori, ‘Illocutionary Logic and Strands of Securitization’, p. 71.

110 Stritzel, ‘Towards a Theory of Securitization’, p. 367.

111 For theoretical perspectives see Balzacq, ‘The Three Faces of Securitization’; and Stritzel, ‘Towards a Theory of Securitization’; and for empirical analyses of non-democratic, non-Western cases see Vuori, ‘Illocutionary Logic and Strands of Securitization’; and Wilkinson, ‘The Copenhagen School on Tour in Kyrgyzstan’.

112 Hoogensen, ‘Bottoms Up! A Toast to Regional Security?’, p. 269.

* The authors would like to acknowledge Sara E. Davies and Martin Weber for their comments on a previous version, as well as the contributions of three anonymous reviewers.

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