Fighting the next pandemic? Civil-military collaboration in health emergencies after COVID

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Over the past decade, militaries have been highly visible elements in the response to health emergencies and in particular disease outbreaks. Although there has been a long tradition of civil-military collaboration in health, COVID-19 saw an unprecedented worldwide use of militaries which occurred within a permissive environment established by narratives of global health, humanitarian intervention and multi-sectorality. This creates a dilemma that militaries will likely be an important element in responding to a major health emergency, but that this risks not only militarizing health emergencies but the balance between society and the military more generally. Moreover, the response to the COVID pandemic suggested that current emergency planning is often poorly prepared for the use of militaries in health crises, thereby reducing the effectiveness of a response. This article engages with how concerns over the securitization of health have evolved into concerns over militarization, and the question of how militaries might be used effectively in future health emergencies without risking the militarization of health or damaging civil-military relations more widely.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Affairs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 22 Feb 2024


  • Covid 19
  • civil-military relations
  • securitisation
  • Militarisation
  • global health security


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