Core concepts of securitisation theory

Core concepts provide the substance for any theory; this observation also applies to the securitisation theoiy underpinned by the following key concepts.


They are threats to the referent objects in a specific area. These threats are so serious “that [they] should not be exposed to the normal haggling of politics but should be dealt with decisively by top leaders prior to other issues” (Buzan & Waever, 2003, p. 29). They may warrant emergency measures and actions outside the normal bounds of political procedure. For example, as a referent object, one of the “existential threats” China faces in its sovereign security is its relationship with Taiwan. There is absolutely no room for Taiwan to haggle with sovereignty issues, and the Chinese government has never ceded the extraordinary option of using military intervention to address the threat of Taiwan’s independence.


This is an analytical tool the securitisation school borrowed from linguistic constructivism. Approaching seciuity from a speech act perspective raises questions about the relationship between actors and analysts in defining and understanding the security agenda. A successful speech act combines interlocution with societal nonns and gives nod to the inherent relationship between the two in speech, thus winning collective approval. Of all internal conditions to the speech act, the most important is to stick to the security regime and security grammar rales. A speech act must include a secret plan pointing to “existential threats”, setting limit points and providing a viable way out of the dilemma under discussion. These constitute the catalysts for an issue to be securitised. The external form of a speech act has two mam conditions: 1) the social resources of the speaker—the securitising actor must be in an authoritative if not official position, and 2) the speech act must be linked to threats. For example, the raging HIV/AIDS epidemic is an existential threat for countries in Africa. However, these countries cannot securitise this public health issue due to their less advantageous position in the international community. Tire United States, on the other hand, is in an authoritative position. The Clinton administration first described AIDS as an existential threat to US national security in 1999. At the United States' initiative, on January 10, 2000, the UN Security Council specifically addressed the impact of AIDS on Africa’s peace and seciuity and on international security, thereby signalling the successfill securitisation of HIV/AIDS. In July of the same year, the Security Council passed Resolution 1308 on HIV/AIDS, marking the official establishment of the fust set of international norms on the securitisation of the disease.


Speech acts made by the securitising actor provide a necessary but not sufficient condition for issues to be successfully securitised. Intersubjectivity refers to the extent to which an existential threat is recognised by securitising actors. It emphasises the actual construction of securitisation. Whether a certain issue is a security matter is not determined only through identification of a participatory' agent since securitisation involves both intersubjectivity and sociality. Successfill securitisation is not only determined by a securitising actor but also by the “audience” of the security speech act. Or rather, it is determined by whether the audience accepts that an issue as an existential threat has threatened a shared value. In other words, securitisation is a process in which a securitising actor adapts its perception to other agents’ understanding of certain existential threats and thus involves security-related interaction under the international system. For example, the United States has successfully promoted the securitisation of terrorism. This whole process was based on the international community’s shared identification of the current threat of terrorism. Moreover, through a series of counter-terrorism resolutions the UN has passed, countries around the globe have confirmed then-support of relevant international norms.

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