National Security and Pandemics

Moderator, 02 April 2020.

What is the connection, if any, between national security and pandemics? If asked even a few months ago, we probably wouldn’t have put pandemics at the top of the list of national security threats. Indeed, at a conference on security and defence held in Ottawa in early March of this year, there was no discussion of pandemics, although several panelists mentioned coronavirus in passing - the main emphasis seemed to be on cyber threats to security.

After the SARS experience in 2003, there was some discussion of the links between health and security, and the National Security Policy published in 2004 listed global pandemics as one of eight major threats to Canada (it was the eighth). Were there lessons learned, did public health get increased emphasis in discussions about national security, did this lead to a better reaction to the coronavirus pandemic?

In a new paper published by the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, Wesley Wark asks “what real change occurred after 2004?” See “Health Intelligence, National Security and the COVID-19 Pandemic.”


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