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Global Health Centre

The Security Sector and Global Health Crises

  • Lead Research Team: Ambassador Theodor Winkler, Professor Ilona Kickbusch
  • Co-researchers: Albrecht Schnabel, Michaela Told, Miriam Sangiorgio, Werner Werder
  • Project owners: The Global Health Centre at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies and the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF)
  • Project status: Concluded
  • Key Words: Ebola, global health crises, global health governance, global health security, multi-sectoral cooperation, security sector

The recent Ebola outbreak in Western Africa has had serious implications for human security and economic development in the affected countries. The economic, security and humanitarian dimensions of such a health crisis call for action in different sectors and at several levels – global, regional, national and local. The challenges that emerged to assist affected nations in managing and containing the Ebola outbreak raise the question as to which contributions local and international security institutions can and should make in response to global health crises. The Global Health Centre (GHC) and the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF), therefore, initiated this project to bridge and bring the health and security sector communities closer together to provide a more coherent, cross-sectorial approach to this global challenge.

The project deals with lessons learnt and experiences from Ebola and previous global health crises to analyse how benefits of security sector involvement in health crises could be maximised and disadvantages minimised. It debates issues related to the structural deficiencies of existing crisis preparedness and response mechanisms and to the governance challenges at the national and international levels, including the role of national security institutions, regional economic and security arrangements, and the United Nations System.

As the project evolves a set of recommendations is identified and published, addressing relevant national, regional and global actors, in order to outline concrete steps to effectively build synergies between the health and the security sectors for better global health security.

Dialogue is central to this applied research project, which is characterised by roundtable discussions, analytical studies, and policy dialogues bringing together experts and opinion leaders from the fields of health, humanitarian affairs, development, and the security sector. Policy briefs and other publications synthetizing findings will be made available throughout the project period.