This article constitutes an attempted bridge-building between the so-called ‘Copenhagen School’ and the so-called ‘Welsh School’ of security studies. The thesis of communality rests upon an evaluative bifurcation of the concept of securitisation into positive and negative securitisation. In tandem with this lies a bifurcation of the concept of desecuritisation into positive and negative desecuritisation. The two positive concepts are believed to be of equal value, with both trumping over the two negative concepts.
This evaluative strategy of securitisation/desecuritisation, it is hoped will combine the optimistic perception of security by ‘Welsh School’ critical security theorists, with the more pessimistic perception of security associated with the Copenhagen School – particularly with that of Ole Wæver, the originator of securitisation theory. Such a strategy is seen as advantageous for three reasons. First, it is believed that the more unified these critical theories are, the stronger a challenge they can offer to the mainstream of security studies; second, the more united the academy the more adoptable are its theories for policymakers (EU or otherwise) and third the strategy proposed here paves the way for a more evaluative engagement with security on the part of the analyst, allowing for normative – but denying infinite – conceptualisations of security.
In order to show that there are differences between the utility of securitisation and desecuritisation, this article demonstrates the distinctions by way of illustrative examples, all of which are taken from the environmental security sector. By means of this practical application, the article will show that neither securitisation nor desecuritisation are, in and of themselves positive or negative. It is rather the case that the outcome of a securitisation/desecuritisation is always issue dependent – something reflected here in the suggested two-tier structure of securitisation.