Copenhagen school
International Security in the Modern World
Masaryk University in Brno
1-2 July 2012
Věra Stojarová
Copenhagen school
•Widening of the security concept
•Deepening of the security concept
•Realism and social constructivism
Copenhagen school
•State as the main referent object for
• political
• environmental
• economical security
•Society the main referent object for the societal
Copenhagen school
•Security is negative problem. Security policy
deals with the in-security problems.
•Securitisation is perceived negatively and in its
contrary stands desecuritisation – move of certain
theme from the security agenda into the political
•Desecuritisation happens mainly in the
democratisation processes while creating the
common norms.
Social constructivism
politisation – it becomes part of public policy, and
needs the governmental decisions and the
allocation of public spending.
•If the issue is presented as existential threat
which justifies the non-standard governmental
procedures it is in the process of securitisation –
process of social construction of threats and risks
when certain issue becomes security issue not
because the real existing threat but because it is
presented as a threat and this presentation is
accepted by the society.
Copenhagen school
•„Existential threat is determined by the political
actor not by the analyst. The objective evaluation
of security is behind the possibilities of analysis.“
Main concepts
•Referential object – entity which is threatened
and has legitimate right for survival (state, nation,
the survival is preservation of national identity,
state sovereignty)
•Securitisation actor – the one who securitises
•Functional actor – influences the dynamic of the
Referential object
•entity which is threatened and has legitimate
right for survival
•Political regimes, firms or bureaucratically
apparatuses do not have this right and can not be
referential objects
•Environment could be seen as referential object
of environmental security
•State is the most important referential object
Securitisation actors
•Securitisation actor is presented by an entity
which presents certain issue as security threat
through speech act
•Securitisation actors could be political elites,
government, lobby, pressure groups.
•They argue with the security of the state, nation,
civilisation, society, principle or system
Functional actor
•Functional actor influences dynamic of a sector
and substantially influences the decision process
in the security field.
•The functional actor in the environmental sector
could be e.g. Firms polluting the environment.
Security according to the
Copenhagen school
International (system)
regional (system)
Interstate group
Human being
Sectors military political societal economical environmental
Regional dynamic
Copenhagen school poses these questions:
1) Does security have in environmental and economical
sector the same dynamic in the political and military
2) Are the security regions in the other sectors same big
as in the traditional security regions?
Buzan sets hypothesis that the post bipolar world will
show higher level of regionalisation while showing
decreasing globalisation
Securitisation on different levels
of analysis
Dynamic/se military
enviro societal
Nonregiona **
**** dominant securitisation, ***subdominant securitisation, **small
securitisation, * no securitisation
•The result thesis is that the regional level will play important role in the security
Critics of the copenhagen school
•Traditionalists criticise and ask where is the
border of widening and deepening??
•Most of the critiques admitted the existence of
the environmental, economical, societal and
political threats but did not want to put them on
the same level as the military threats. The need
for attack or withdrawal of military forces must
remain the main goal of the strategic analysis
(Chipman 1991: 129)
Critics and followers of the
copenhagen school
•Third world school - Mohammed Ayoob
•Claims that the economical and societal threats are not
for the developing countries relevant and that the
biggest threat for this region comes from the weak states
•Weak states are overwhelmed by the internal threats
rather than by external
•Ayoob proposes regional society
•The creation of regional society is enabled by the key
central power which is recognized as legitimate in the
region. The legitimacy is based on the military and
technological capacity, on the power of external relations
Critique from the sociologists
•Identity is not statical, it is understood as a
process not as an object. Unlike with the state the
identity does not leave any sediment and can not
be rigid. The Copenhagen school is wrong when
taking identity as unchanging entity. The
individual can have more identities which are not
contradictory. (McSweeney 1998: 138)
Christopher Freeman and his
•11. 9. 2001 critises the regionalist aspect in
Buzan and says that the current primary threats
stem not from neighbouring states but rather
from the rogue states, Iraq, Israel, Korea,
India, Pakistan.“ (Freeman 2001)
•Does not take in account the globalisation,
economical interdependency and the new world
order i which distance does not play any role.
Gender and other critique
•Criticising the lack of gender security
•Mary Anne Warren – gendercide – the abortions
of the female fetus
•Copenhagen school does not deal with the
sexual orientation, handicapped people or
violence aimed at the political group (politicide).
(Hough 2004: 106-132)
•Where is the border?? Pedofiles, zoofiles as
referent objects??
•What do you think about globalisation vs.
•Is identity statical?
•Should security deal with handicapped, people
with different sexual orientation,political group?
•Any other?

V. Copenhagen school