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New Wars and Humanitarian Securitization in the Post-September 11 Era

Thu, September 15, 4:00 to 5:30pm, TBA


This paper investigates the process of ‘humanitarian securitization’ amid the new wars emanating from the horizontal inequality between culturally defined groups. Humanitarian securitization is defined here as the process of securitizing the humanitarian crises brought about by the new wars, specifically, internal conflicts and terrorism, to justify the use and implementation of ‘humanitarian’ war and intervention in the target states. How does humanitarian securitization influence the conduct and outcomes of new wars and humanitarianism in the post-September 11 era?
To answer this question, first, we explore the linkages between new wars, humanitarianism, and securitization in the post-Cold War international security landscape. Here, we argue that the persistent instrumentalization of humanitarianism and securitization highlights the concepts’ discursive power in legitimizing the implementation of ‘humanitarian’ war and intervention as necessary extraordinary measures for combatting these new wars. We then discuss the main theoretical assumptions underpinning our framework, that is, the humanitarian securitization process, which we claim to be precipitated by the universalistic neo-conservatist logic of the Bush doctrine that dominated Washington’s post-September 11 foreign policy strategy. After which, we empirically demonstrate the dynamics and impact of humanitarian securitization vis-à-vis the conduct and outcomes of internal conflicts and terrorism in the Middle East by comparatively examining the experiences of Iraq and Afghanistan with of the American ‘war on terror’ campaign. Finally, we conclude by interrogating the future of new wars and humanitarianism by building on the theoretical and empirical findings from our case studies vis-à-vis humanitarian securitization in the post-September 11 era.