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2 - States and the Obligation to Securitize

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 February 2024

Rita Floyd
University of Birmingham


This chapter examines the duties of states to insiders (people living within a state’s physical territory) and outsiders (people in other states). It is argued that states have, provided the initiation of securitization is otherwise justified and that must cause is satisfied, an overriding duty to secure insiders from objective existential threat via securitization. Regarding morally mandatory other-securitization, the picture is more mixed, a range of costs to the self, including (1) the risk of death, disease, and disability; (2) the risk of instability and insecurity; and (3) financial costs can override an individual state’s obligation to secure and – where necessary – securitize outsiders from threat. This chapter goes on to examine what happens to pro tanto duties if states are liable for threat creation abroad. Moreover, it suggests a ranking of different triggers for remedial responsibility derived from common-sense morality, enabling the pinpointing of specific states as primary duty-bearers for morally mandatory other-securitization.

The Duty to Secure
From Just to Mandatory Securitization
, pp. 82 - 123
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2024

2.1 Introduction

Chapter 1 established with the concept of must cause the critical juncture when securitization is not merely morally permissible but obligatory. Chapters 25 of this book are concerned with discovering who – that is, which actors – have the obligation to securitize, and whether or not this duty is conditional or overriding.Footnote 1 In this context, it is crucial to realize that a duty to securitize rests on a prior duty to act on the threat using ordinary political measures, for short, a duty to secure; after all, if no one has a duty to act (politicize), must cause cannot ever be satisfied. In short, the duty to securitize is a derivative duty.Footnote 2

The present chapter focuses on individual state actors. I argue that regarding national security (encompassing the security of the state and its economy, but also the security of citizens within states), the obligation to securitize can be charted in terms of contractual responsibilities. In other words, I argue that in the context of national security must cause offers definitive guidance for when securitization is mandatory, at least where just states are concerned. The picture is much more complicated when it comes to states and mandatory securitization of outsiders (e.g., citizens of other states). I suggest that to understand why this issue is relevant at all we must commence by consulting the literature on global justice. I show how this literature enables us to understand: (1) why able states have a duty to make the insecure secure via politicization (i.e., use of ordinarily acceptable/normal measures), as well as (2) how much we owe.

I go on to chart the moral costs and risks that override the pro tanto obligation to securitize outsiders. I argue that – in addition to must cause – duty-bearing states have an obligation of other-securitization when: (1) the securitizing/intervening state possesses willing, able, and sufficiently numerous executors of securitization; (2) securitization will not create unreasonable levels of insecurity for the would-be securitizing actor; and (3) the financial costs of securitization do not create security deficits for the securitizing state or its citizens.

I go on to discuss liability and obligation, specifically whether liability for threat creation due to prior poor choices strips putative referent objects of the entitlement to being saved by mandatory securitization. I also discuss what liability for threat creation means for securitizing actors, specifically I am interested in the question whether liability for threat creation means that securitization is morally required before must cause is satisfied. That is, in virtue of the fact that they have either created the threat or done nothing/little to avert it, are such securitizing actors morally compelled to do everything possible right away to deal with a threat, or may they pursue a political solution first?

Finally, I discuss the circumstances when individual states are the primary duty-bearers of other-securitization. This is important because if all capable states (and other actors) have a pro tanto moral obligation to remedy the insecurity situation, who – out of the many possible actors – should act? To come by this problem, I suggest a ranking of David Miller’s (Reference Miller2007) triggers of remedial responsibility that I derive from common-sense morality. Concretely I suggest that moral responsibility for threat creation trumps, outcome responsibility, which – in turn – trumps ‘security friendship’, while friendship/community trump pure capacity to act in the ranking of such triggers.

2.2 Just States: Duties to Insiders

States are the most common actors in international relations. While we all know what states are, it is worthwhile to remind ourselves that states ‘must possess the following qualifications: a permanent population, a defined territory, and a government capable of maintaining effective control over its territory and of conducting international relations with other states’ (Evans and Newnham, Reference Evans and Newnham1998: 512). Moreover, a state has ‘legal personality and as such in international law possesses certain rights and duties’ (ibid: 512).

We can differentiate between just and unjust states. In line with Just Securitization Theory (JST), only just referents, including just states and just collectives of states, are eligible for self-securitization and to being saved via securitization by other states or actors. In accordance with JST, just states are states which satisfy a minimum floor of basic human needs. Unjust states can in principle justly securitize just referent object (notably, JST does not insist on legitimate authority (Floyd, Reference Floyd2019a: 140ff)). This includes just third states, groups of innocent people within third states, but also groups of people within its own territory, notably its citizens. Given that citizens (i.e., a permanent population) are – as we have just learnt – an integral part of the state, it could be argued that securitization of citizens as opposed to the regime/government is a form of self-securitization, and consequently that unjust states are eligible for some forms of self-securitization. Indeed, and as we shall see, all states are not merely permitted to secure their populations from just threats, but – at times – required to do so.Footnote 3

It is probably ultimately hair-splitting whether – when a state secures its population – we call this ‘self-securitization’, or whether only securitization of the regime (including its economic model, leadership, government, ideology) is self-securitization, notably the two are often hard to separate (cf. Buzan et al., Reference Buzan, Wæver and de Wilde1998: 146). The important point is that legitimate authority (which in much of just war theory takes the form of a state possessing a freely and fairly elected government) is not a necessary component of the moral obligation to securitize. We can see this by analogy. A murderer is not – simply because they have already committed a serious wrong – now somehow perpetually exempt from the law and thus permitted to commit further murders. Consider also that according to JST unjust states are permitted to securitize (i.e., make safe via emergency measures) their populations, provided that the population is morally innocent in the relevant sense. Indeed, in such circumstances unjust states have an overriding duty of securitization. Nevertheless, because unjust states do not have the moral right to self-securitization narrowly conceived (i.e., as securitization of the regime), and because I need to paint the broadest possible picture, I will work with just states only.

The purpose of the state is considered inseparably linked to the provision of security for its citizens (insiders). This is nowhere more pertinent than in the work of Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679). Hobbes considered the state of nature a perpetual state of war, conflict, and consequently insecurity. A condition that according to Hobbes could only be overcome/ameliorated if people associate and bow to an absolute sovereign, the Leviathan. In Hobbes, thus, the purpose of the state (Leviathan) is to provide otherwise elusive: ‘internal security against each other; protection against other groups, or external enemies’ (Boucher, Reference Boucher1998: 152; see also Sorell, Reference Sorell2013). In order to enjoy security and peace, people are willing to give up ‘certain of their rights’ (Boucher, Reference Boucher1998: 152), most notably the right to use force in order to secure themselves and their property.

Other social contract theories have a more positive and benign view of the state of nature. John Locke (1632–1704) viewed it as a pre-political but still moral place, where adherence to god was pivotal and provided a moral baseline. However, the absence of authority meant that when conflict (usually over property) broke out, such conflicts could not easily be settled and continued often indefinitely (Friend, Reference Friend2004). Ultimately, the need to protect their life, liberty, and property (including of their own bodies) drove people to leave the state of nature and to associate in state-like groupings (ibid). In other words, for Locke too one purpose of the state is to provide security.

The third most significant social contract theorist of early modern political theory is Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778). Like Locke, he had a positive view of the state of nature, unlike Locke, however, he believed that human ascent out of the state of nature into a social contract has left ordinary people insecure, because the contract serves only the most well off. Rousseau’s main aim was to right this condition by providing a normative theory specifying how the social contract would need to change so that people everywhere could become equal (Friend, Reference Friend2004). Although Rousseau’s work is not about security in the way Hobbes’ and even Locke’s work is, equality, which is to say the ability not to be exploited, abused, or otherwise violated, chimes with our modern-day extended concepts of security as a state of being, notably human security.

In summary, the basic idea of these early modern social contract theorists is that states are, or should be, intrinsically linked to the provision of security as a state of being, because they provide an escape from a permanent state of insecurity, and/or because states can only be deemed good/justified if they provide comprehensive security as a state of being.

I list these early social contract theorists here, because despite how much has been written about them and about the role, function, and make-up of the state since, the inter-linkage between states and security remains fundamental to our conception of the state. In our own time, this is obvious from the principle of the responsibility to protect (RtoP or R2P), which has sought to make state sovereignty conditional on that state’s provision of freedom from a small number of atrocity crimes (genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity) (see, e.g., Bellamy, Reference Bellamy, Williams and McDonald2018; cf. Chapter 5, Section 5.3). It is also obvious from national security strategies where the purpose of the state is irrevocably bound up with the security of its citizens. For example, the first objective of the United Kingdom’s National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence Review from 2015 is ‘to protect our people – at home, in our Overseas Territories and abroad, and to protect our territory, economic security, infrastructure and way of life’ (HM Government, 2015: 11). Finally, it is obvious from the concept of state failure. While this concept is contested with scholars setting different thresholds for state failure, most would agree that states have failed ‘when they are consumed by internal violence and cease delivering positive political goods to their inhabitants. Their governments lose credibility, and the continuing nature of the particular nation-state itself becomes questionable and illegitimate in the hearts and minds of its citizens’ (Rotberg, Reference Rotberg and Rotberg2004: 1).

Because states are responsible for the provision of security for their people, states also possess specific and practically unique capabilities to provide security. Most notably, they hold a monopoly on violence, which is to say, they are – bar some very limited allowances for self-defence – the only entity that can legitimately use coercive and lethal force (discharged most notably by the police, military, and intelligence agencies) within their given territory (Weber, Reference Weber1946: 1). The right to provide security by force and coercion, however, does not mean that states must provide national security in this way. In line with the argument in Chapter 1, securitization is mandatory only when must cause is satisfied.

States’ raison d’être as security providers means that their duty to self-securitize is overriding, which is to say, no considerations can override their duty to securitize insiders in relevant cases. As we shall see below, in other-securitization (e.g., where one state secures inter alia the population of another state by using extraordinary measures), one prominent consideration able to override the duty to securitize is the risk to the securitizing actor (e.g., in armed humanitarian interventions, most obviously in terms of own soldiers’ lives lost). This does not apply in cases of mandatory self-securitization, because in such cases the moral cost – for the would-be securitizing actor – of not providing security is always greater than the cost of not providing security.Footnote 4 Above all else, the failure to enact mandatory securitization terminates the social contract, which is to say the state itself disappears (hence the notion of state failure). Peter Steinberger has shown convincingly that we can find this in Hobbes. He argues: ‘When the state fails to do what it was designed to do – when it threatens, rather than protects, the interests of the citizens [and I would include here by failing to act in appropriate ways] – then the social contract, that is, the original agreement among citizens, is annulled’ (Steinberger, Reference Steinberger2002: 859). Concretely this means that a just state can use its military and security personnel to securitize. More controversially, it means that if there are insufficient numbers of persons that have voluntarily joined professions (e.g., military, police) in which they might incur the risk of death, dying, and disability (cf. Section 2.5) when defending the just state or its people, then it is within the right of the state to use conscription, including of medical personnel and other specialists.Footnote 5 To be sure, conscription is only permissible when the initiation of securitization is morally justifiable, when there is a must cause, and when numbers of executors of securitization are insufficient. This is because conscription is morally problematic. As Pattison has convincingly argued: ‘[…] a policy of conscription undermines several freedoms. It potentially violates self-ownership, since the individual’s body is used in a manner that they do not choose. In addition, it denies freedom of occupational choice and freedom of movement, which are restricted during the period in which the individual is conscripted’ (Pattison, Reference Pattison2014: 122).

These moral problems with conscription smooth the path for the use of Private Military and Security Companies (PMSCs) (ibid: 173). Although the moral problems with employing PMSCs are extensive, Pattison’s impressive study ultimately concludes that such groups ‘can be permissibly employed in a wide variety of roles when their deployment is likely to have very beneficial consequences for the enjoyment of basic human rights’ (ibid: 179; see also example on p. 186). It should be noted here that the right to employ PMSCs and even conscription is not one held only by just states, provided that securitization is just, unjust regimes can – in principle – do likewise. For example, if an unjust regime defends its population (likely a morally innocent group of people and hence just referent) against unjust external aggression, it can – in principle – use PMSCs to do so. The problem is, however, that in this case the unjust regime helps secure itself as a side effect. Here thus a decision would have to be made which – the regime or the external threat – is the lesser evil for the population.

As we shall see below a second prominent factor that can override, the pro tanto obligation to securitize is the risk of instability. Scholars sceptical of humanitarian intervention often juxtapose justice (i.e., when human rights are met including through force) and order (Jackson, Reference Jackson2000; see also Hurrell, Reference Hurrell, Navari and Green2014; Bellamy, Reference Bellamy, Williams and McDonald2018: 247). Or, put differently, cosmopolitan forms of justice with more communitarian forms of justice (Williams, Reference Williams2015; Bain, Reference Bain, Navari and Green2014). Either way, the assumption of sceptics of humanitarian intervention certainly often is that the same will lead to disorder, instability, and even injustice (Cochran, Reference Cochran, Navari and Green2014: 191). While – as explained in Section 2.5 – this is a valid objection to mandatory other-securitization, it has no bearing on mandatory self-securitization of just states. If anything, the opposite is true. Thus, when states fail to act on must cause, it becomes permissible for sub-state actors to defy the state and seek self-securitization (we will return to this issue more fully in Section 2.7) resulting in all likelihood in instability, disorder, and insecurity for many. As Steinberger (Reference Steinberger2002: 859) explains:

[W]hen the state fails to accomplish the things it was designed to accomplish – when, indeed, it subverts the very ends for which it was created – then the contract that the citizens had entered into with one another has now been abrogated, hence has been rendered null and void, in which case the state is literally no longer. The citizens are no longer citizens but are immediately plunged back into a condition of mere nature, and each individual is obliged only to maximize his or her interests as he or she determines.

Provided that must cause is satisfied, the duty to provide national security (i.e., essentially the security of citizens in virtue of securing the state) via securitization is straightforward; here, no other consideration can override the duty to provide security. Yet, what happens in situations, where states are unable to securitize effectively, for example, because they have insufficient financial means? Recall, from Chapter 1, the example of Dengue threat, whereby the population of the fictional sub-tropic, developing state Gabenia was threatened with dengue fever and severe dengue. We said that in this case securitization is required once political measures to tackle the outbreak have demonstrably failed to produce a reduction in new infections. Assume now, for the purposes of argument, that must cause is satisfied and that Gabenia must now securitize, for example, by mobilizing the military to exterminate vector-carrying mosquitos and to enforce curfews at key times of the day. But what if Gabenia does not have a functioning military force that could be deployed for these and other tasks, because there never was money available, or even the need, to sustain this. In other words, what happens if Gabenia recognizes their duty to securitize, but cannot deliver on securitization? It seems to me that if they cannot discharge their duty directly to their citizens, it is their duty to seek help from those who can (e.g., a capable neighbouring state, a regional body or even the international community).Footnote 6 I will discuss the issue of who has primary responsibility for other-securitization in Section 2.6, for now the important point to note is this: the inability to fulfil the specific duty to self-securitize does not exempt states from the related duties to seek and/or to acceptFootnote 7 help.Footnote 8

Regarding the issue of mandatory securitization and national security, it remains to discuss what happens when would-be referent objects request securitizationFootnote 9 before must cause is met. Recall the case of drought disaster discussed in Chapter 1, Section 1.4.3, where the fictitious 500.000 strong city of Millville is suffering from a severe drought. What if a significant number of the population (for instance, a clear majority of 70 per cent), who would be the referent object of securitization, demand – through peaceful protests, petitions, etc. – securitization before must cause is satisfied? In such situations, are not fully democratic states obligated to securitize because it is the will of the majority? Or, in other words, does popular revolt bring forward – in time – must cause. I think not, because while states have a duty to secure their citizens, in the absence of must cause there is no specific duty regarding how this is to be done.

To make this clearer, consider the issue of how welfare states provide welfare. We might say that welfare states count as such only if they provide a range of basic needs to their citizens, including one or more of the following sick pay, holiday pay, unemployment benefit, maternity pay, free healthcare, etc. This means that if the governing party of a state wants theirs to be a welfare state, then they must – specifics aside – ensure that a range of basic human needs are satisfied. However, said state is not required to provide, for example, unemployment benefit in accordance with the guidelines of other existing welfare states. In the European Union (EU), for example, how precisely welfare states look after the unemployed, including how much money the unemployed are entitled to and for how long, varies widely (cf. Harms and Juncker, Reference Harms and Juncker2019). In short, while citizens can demand that welfare states provide welfare, they cannot demand how precisely this is to be done. The parallel here to the provision of security is that while citizens can demand that states provide security, indeed as citizens they have a right to security, they do not have a right to security being provided in a specific way. The exception to this is formed by situations when must cause is satisfied.

In summary, we can now say that when must cause is satisfied just states have an overriding duty to provide national security, which includes the security of citizens of the state, via securitization.

2.3 States: Duties to Outsiders

The case of Gabenia shows that not all willing states are always able to act appropriately on a must cause for securitization, mostly because they lack the necessary resources. Part of the following discussion is dedicated to answering what might happen when states cannot act on mandatory self-securitization? In the above, I suggested that Gabenia is duty-bound to ask for help from more able actors. But are more able states and collectives thereof in such cases duty-bound to assist them? If so, where does this duty to assist the insecure come from?

The issue of states and other would-be securitizing actors and mandatory other-securitizationFootnote 10 is much more complicated than this still. It is one thing to discuss the duty to assist (just) states with securitization who actively want – and may even have requested securitization – that assistance (let us call this mandatory other-securitization by consentFootnote 11), but quite another to act (1) against the will of beneficiaries but with the consent of the host state or (2) against states as threateners altogether. Let us call these mandatory other-securitization without consent.Footnote 12

Especially, the possibility of mandatory other-securitization without consent could have very severe consequences for executors of securitization and for the securitizing actor,Footnote 13 including embroiling these into violent conflicts, counter-sanctions, and counter-attacks by those objecting to unwanted external interference. As such, we can see that the issue of mandatory other-securitization without consent raises the question whether states and other external would-be securitizing actors actually have a duty to intervene and to other-securitize at all? Or is it the case that the moral costs and risks of security intervention void such a general duty?

I want to begin by discussing why able states and other actors have obligations to outsiders.Footnote 14 To do this, it is instructive to turn to the literature on global justice, which focuses on how much is owed to poor and disadvantaged people, and why it is owed.

Almost always the justification why states owe to outsiders rests with the ‘weak’ cosmopolitan principle of ‘equal moral worth’ of persons (Miller, Reference Miller2007: 27; see also Risse, Reference Risse2012: 10; Brock, Reference Brock2009: 11; Caney, Reference Caney2005: chapter 4), which, in turn, means that the claims of needy people ‘must count with us when we decide how to act or what institutions to establish’ (Miller, Reference Miller2007: 27). Indeed, this principle is at the heart of secular morality. Our very idea of morality and ethics is tied to how our actions impact on the life of humans. It is therefore unsurprising that, for instance, Miller argues that ‘[…] we find it morally unacceptable if the deprived person is simply left to suffer’ (2007: 98, emphases added). A crude way of putting all this is to say that any ethical theory that is not based on a theory of equal moral worth of persons, and on that basis automatically considers obligations to outsiders, is not a moral/ethical theory at all. Hence, by definition, a moral theory of securitization must start from the assumption that able states and other able actors have at least some obligations to the needy, or better still, to insecure outsiders. This includes just and unjust states, even though it is unlikely that states that undermine basic human needs (including of their own people) and are therefore unjust will act to assist the needy/insecure in other states.

If we accept this definition, it follows that all ethical theories of global justice then necessarily consider a duty of beneficence.Footnote 15 Despite this unity, there is disagreement on: (1) how much we owe and (2) when such duties kick in (cf. Beauchamp, Reference Beauchamp and Zalta2019). Starting with the latter first, most theorists of global justiceFootnote 16 are wedded to the idea of human rights, because rights place duties on states, institutions, and even individuals. Cécile Fabre explains: ‘[…] to say that someone has a right is to say that an interest of hers is important enough to impose on third parties duties not to interfere with her pursuit of that or some related interest, as well as duties to promote that interest’ (Fabre, Reference Fabre2012: 23).Footnote 17 In short, on Fabre’s and other similar accounts pro tanto obligations to assist outsiders become relevant when their human rights are infringed (cf. Miller, Reference Miller2007: 164).

While scholars generally agree on the power rights have regarding duties, the origins of human rights and therefore their precise nature (i.e., how extensive they are in terms of the number of human rights identified) are subject to debate. This matters because more extensive lists of human rights entail more extensive corresponding duties than more basic lists of human rights can generate. Some scholars believe that we have human rights because we are human (Griffin, Reference Griffin2008: 36), some think that they make us human (Booth, Reference Booth2007: 382), and others think that more important than their origin is that they work in practice (Beitz, Reference Beitz2009). Consequently, scholars have advanced lists of different lengths specifying human rights. At the moderate end of a spectrum sits David Miller’s non-extensive list because he advocates the grounding of human rights in basic human needs. For Miller, ‘something is a human right by showing that having that right fulfils the needs of the right-holder’ [while] ‘needs are those items or conditions it is necessary for a person to have if she is to avoid being harmed’ (Miller, Reference Miller2007: 179). Miller considers the linkage between needs and rights essential. Thus, on the one hand, rights need to be restricted by grounding them in human needs,Footnote 18 while, on the other hand, only rights place remedial responsibilities (i.e., duties) on people. Remedial responsibility is as far as I am aware also a term advanced by Miller. Unlike the standard ‘outcome responsibility’ which tracks agents who are responsible for causing X or Y, remedial responsibility begins ‘with a state of affairs in need of remedy […] and we then ask whether there is anyone whose responsibility it is to put that state of affairs right’ (Miller, Reference Miller2007: 98).

Just Securitization Theory is heavily steeped in needs-based thinking. Notably I argue that putative referent objects are eligible for self-securitization, or for being defended by means of securitization by third parties (for short other-securitization), only when they are morally valuable. Moral value, in turn, depends on their ability to satisfy basic human needs (physical health and autonomy), with thresholds set differently for social and political orders and non-human species and ecosystems (Floyd, Reference Floyd2019a: chapter 4). In other words, Miller’s human rights – grounded as they are in basic human needs – offer a valid and coherent way of triggering remedial responsibilities.

While Miller’s formulation of combining needs with rights is tempting and, I think, convincing (cf. Floyd, Reference Floyd2011), there are nonetheless reasons to be wary of rights talk. Gillian Brock argues that empirical evidence shows that needs-based justifications of moral duties enjoy greater mass appeal than rights talk, in part because rights are limited by being culturally specific to the West (Brock, Reference Brock2009: 63–69). Moreover, Brock believes that we do not need to translate needs into rights, because the principle of equal moral worth of people already means that ‘we are obliged to ensure that persons are adequately positioned with respect to meeting their basic needs’ (2009: 63). Clearly, Brock’s account of obligation sits easily (i.e., in reflective equilibrium) with JST which makes use of basic human needs satisfaction to determine whether putative referent objects are morally valuable and as such either permitted to defend themselves via securitization, or eligible to defensive assistance by means of securitization (Floyd, Reference Floyd2019a: chapter 4). However, because Miller grounds rights in needs, and because JST makes use of human rights to place constraints on security practitioners in their handling of suspects, protesters, and innocent bystanders (Floyd, Reference Floyd2019a: chapter 6), Miller’s account is equally compatible.

Important about both is that duties (or to use Miller’s term remedial responsibilities) kick in when people are not able to be and function as they should as humans. Or, put differently, when they are unable to live minimally decent lives because they are either directly or indirectly (i.e., when a morally valuable referent object is directly threatened) objectively existentially threatened. This is important, because it corresponds to JST’s principles of existential threats, as well as the theory’s conception of macro-proportionality. As explained in Chapter 1, Section 1.3, in JST threats must be sufficiently demanding (i.e., existential) to count as just causes for securitization, yet demandingness does not mean that threats have to be either directly or indirectly lethal to human beings. Not only would such a formulation render JST unable to account for existential threats to non-human referents (such threats often do not have lethal consequences for humans), but also it would undermine that some non-lethal threats are – in terms of the harm they cause – comparable with lethality (notably threats that render severe mental or physical disabilities). Thus, if I am threatened by something that would hinder me to be and function as a human and to participate fully in society, I might not be lethally threatened, but I cannot live as a human should. For this reason, JST includes also non-lethal, but nevertheless existential threatsFootnote 19 to humans.

The issue of the level of harm – in JST– pops up again, namely, with regard to macro-proportionality. In a nutshell, I hold that because securitizations cause harm it can only be used against threats that are sufficiently harmful to humans, which is the case when objective well-being is either directly or indirectly threatened.Footnote 20 In summary, we can see that not only is it true that states have some positive duties to outsiders, but also – in reflective equilibrium with JST – states have a pro tanto moral obligation to act on those duties.

Recall that above I said that global justice scholars disagree on two issues in particular. One concerns when duties kick in (we have seen that this – for different scholars – is the case when rights are infringed or when human needs are unmet), the other relates to how much is owed? We have seen that some of this depends on the definition of rights and needs scholars work with, respectively. If, for example, one works with an elaborate list of human rights (e.g., one that includes welfare rights), what is owed to people everywhere would be quite different, to a scholar who worked with a list of only the most basic human rights (e.g., the right to life). Certainly, working with basic human needs – as I do – already restricts what one is owed and what one owes. Notably, securitization cannot be justified when people in other countries simply feel vulnerable.

But more is at stake here, because how much is owed also rests on a prior mindset/conviction about justice. Let us consider briefly how global justice scholars divide on the issue of how much is owed.

We can imagine the issue of how much is owed as a continuum (cf. Beauchamp, Reference Beauchamp and Zalta2019: 3; Scheid, Reference Scheid and Scheid2014) that has as its respective opposing ends practically ‘equal positive duties’ to all and ‘unequal positive duties’.Footnote 21 The former end is populated by radical cosmopolitans, which includes effective altruists who advocate giving as much income away as possible to combat global poverty, but also that people should select jobs that make them high earners, in order to enable them to give more away (Singer, Reference Singer2013). At the other end of our continuum, we find ‘merely’ ‘moral cosmopolitans’, which is to say statists or communitarians who believe in the principle of equal moral worth but who believe that ties of national allegiance mean that we owe more to fellow-nationals than people in other states (Miller, Reference Miller2007: 30). Holding the centre ground are those global justice scholars who recognize that states and people cannot be required to be impartial to allegiances; however, they are ‘permitted to confer greater weight on their own goals, projects and attachments’ only once the needy have opportunities for ‘a minimally decent life’ (Fabre, Reference Fabre2012: 21; see also Brock, Reference Brock2009: 14–15).

Although this is not a book about the fair distribution of security (as a state of being) and therefore how much security wealthy states must redistribute, instead one about justified security practice, the trends in the literature are relevant, because scholars located at different points of the spectrum would take different views on whether the pro tanto obligation of other-securitization can be overridden. Certainly, some radical cosmopolitans would discount potential risks to securitizing actors (notably in terms of lives lost) as valid objections to not securitizing. We can see this from the radical cosmopolitan literature on humanitarian intervention. Mary Kaldor, for example, argues that the lives of peacekeepers and of victims are equally important, and that peacekeeping (‘cosmopolitan law-enforcement’) entails ‘risking the lives of peacekeepers in order to save the lives of victims’ (Kaldor, Reference Kaldor2012: 138). In my view, Kaldor also discounts the risk of global instability caused by intervention aka ‘cosmopolitan law-enforcement’, not only because intervention must be based on partial consent (ibid: 134–136), but also because there is the implicit assumption that everyone would recognize such interventions as good and unproblematic. Relatively, more moderate cosmopolitans, as here Caney (Reference Caney2005: 253), argue that ‘intervention [should] not impose undue costs on the intervening authorities’. For Fabre (Reference Fabre2012: 21), undue moral cost is incurred when intervention ‘would require of the better off to sacrifice their own opportunities for a minimally decent life’ (Fabre, Reference Fabre2007: 369; by contrast see Singer, Reference Singer1972: 231Footnote 22).

This shows that there is a tangible difference between states’ duties to securitize insiders and outsiders. Unlike in the latter, in the former case no consideration regarding moral costs or risks can override the duty to securitize because the costs of not acting are always greater (notably the state ceases to exist, or it fails unless it provides security). In Section 2.5, I will consider in detail the moral costs and risks that override states’ duties to act on must cause where third parties are concerned, before this however it is necessary to briefly revisit must cause.

2.4 Must Cause and Mandatory Other-Securitization

I argued in Chapter 1 that securitization is morally required only once politicization of the threat has been tried and has failed to satisfy just cause. I have also argued that real threats require politicization, because when threats are real, strategic inaction is not a feasible option. Especially in mandatory other-securitization by consent, this raises the question whose political solutions count? Is it those performed by the state/group, etc., in need of help with securitization, or that of the external actor? In other words, in other-securitization when precisely is must cause satisfied. I want to suggest that – in other-securitization – all would-be securitizing actors must establish the satisfaction of must cause anew and independently. This means that, if A requests help with the securitization against an issue from B,Footnote 23 then B is obligated to securitize only once the political solutions B has to offer have been tried and failed to satisfy just cause. Provided securitization is just, B is permitted to use exceptional measures before that point is reached, namely, when securitization is ex ante anticipated to be the best option. But the obligation to do something extraordinary to counter a threat comes into force only once other less harmful measures B can provide have not worked. Concretely this means that the duty of other-securitization is a derivative duty, that is, a duty that rests on a prior duty of ‘other-politicization’,Footnote 24 meaning a duty to save relevant third parties using ordinary political measures, or in other words a duty to secure.

The fact that each (including each successiveFootnote 25) would-be securitizing actor must establish must cause before they have a duty to other-securitize is crucial for another reason. A central requirement of JST is macro-proportionality – the principle that securitization must not cause more harm than it seeks to prevent. Other-securitization (especially without consent) is likely to cause more harm than a state using emergency measures to protect its own people from an external threat. In other words, the threshold for when other-securitization is proportionate is likely to be higher (in terms of the harm prevented by such action) than in cases of self-securitization.Footnote 26 This also shows once more that the above-mentioned prior duty of other-politicization does not entail an automatic duty to securitize when politicization fails. Notably, securitization by third parties may be disproportionally harmful to the threat in question, in which case securitization is impermissible.

Finally, one difference between the two types of mandatory other-securitization is that mandatory other-securitization without consent can apply only when there is an unaddressed objective existential threat to a just referent object, or when the state itself is the threatener, whereas mandatory other-securitization by consent applies in cases when states acquiesce to relevant assistance offered or when they request securitization by third parties, and this can happen while the requesting state addresses the threat. To be sure, an unaddressed threat exists when a sovereign state does not address a relevant threat to a just referent object, which is the case when the state has no relevant and targeted political strategy to address the threat.Footnote 27 One reason why outside interference and coercion in such cases are morally permissible is that states that do not protect just referents within their territory have forfeited the right to political self-determinationFootnote 28 (cf. Wellman in Wellman and Cole, Reference Wellman and Cole2011: 15–16; Altman and Wellman, Reference Altman and Wellman2009: chapter 4; McMahan, Reference McMahan, Davis, Keshen and McMahan2010: 57; Tesón, Reference Tesón and Scheid2014: 71–72). Or, in other words, sovereignty is conditional on good behaviour.

The implications of this are important; thus, my framework can answer Ramesh Thakur’s provocative question whether the level of gun violence (32.000 deaths annually)Footnote 29 necessitates RtoP-type intervention within domestic US jurisdiction (Thakur, Reference Thakur2017: 291) with a decisive no. Thus, while – certainly from a Western European perspective – the United States’s efforts at reducing gun violence are poor (i.e., why not simply ban gun ownership altogether?), gun violence is addressed. In the wake of the Parkland shooting in February 2018, for example, many states have introduced and tightened gun laws, including by raising of the minimal age for gun ownership, as well as by temporarily (for one year) barring dangerous people from gun ownership (Kramer and Harlan, Reference Kramer and Harlan2019). In short, in the case of the United States it is simply not the case that the threat is not addressed by relevant authorities, and in the absence of an unaddressed threat there is no moral case for a duty to politicize – and if that fails – of mandatory other-securitization. This is so for two interrelated reasons. First, mandatory securitization is triggered either for contractual reasons or because of the moral equality of people. Duties are based on the rights that affected people (or groups thereof) hold against duty-bearers. The obligation of mandatory securitization is however not triggered by a right to a policy that works 100 per cent. For one thing, such a policy may not be available. Instead, affected persons simply have a right to the issue being addressed. Moreover, this brings me to my second point that if a state has not forfeited the right to political self-determination (here because they are addressing a threat) other actors do not have a duty to intervene.Footnote 30

2.5 Factors Overriding Individual States’ Duties to Securitize Outsiders

In addition to breaking the normal peacetime rules between states (including, by using tough sanctions, blackmail, subversion, the threat of expulsion from international organizations, etc.), mandatory other-securitizations may see an external actor A act within the sovereign territory of state B in order to protect a just referent object (which can be a social or political order, an ecosystem, a non-human species, or a group of people; cf. Introduction). For example, the external securitizing actor could enforce curfews with the help of its military in dengue threat (Section 1.4.3) or they could help enforce restrictions on the use of water resources, as necessary in the hypothetical example of drought disaster (Section 1.4.3).

Above I have said that we can distinguish between mandatory other-securitization by consent and mandatory securitization without consent. The former is perhaps less likely to bring adverse consequences for the external securitizing actor. It is logical to assume, for example, that when aforementioned Gabenia asks for help from another sovereign state to deal with dengue threat then – provided they satisfy must cause and that securitization is carried out in line with the principles of just conduct during securitization – such help is likely to be gladly received by the government of Gabenia and its population, in short by the beneficiaries of securitization. This should mean that the risks to putative executors of securitization – for example, in terms of the lives lost due to violent resistance to securitization – are comparatively low as there simply will be little in the way of opposition to securitization. Conversely, a comparable course of action is unlikely to be morally justifiable where would-be securitizing actors do not have the consent of the host state. To be sure, this is not because of the lack of consent, but rather because in the absence of consent by the host state escalation (including into war) is preprogramed. And the high likelihood that other-securitization will lead to violent conflict renders the same morally impermissible on the grounds of the proportionality criterion (cf. Introduction). This means that in most cases, other-securitization without consent by the host state can only take the form of remote action, that is, sanctions, not direct intervention within the state’s territory.

This said, there is another form of mandatory other-securitization without consent, namely, one whereby the host state (i.e., the government) has consented to rescue, including by other-securitization, but (part of) the beneficiary (the population) has not. Consider as a case in point the Ebola virus crisis in 2014/2015 in West Africa. Here, the affected states requested help from the international community, but many locals rejected the finding that Ebola was a threat, and once they accepted the virus as a threat, they became scared and resentful of international enforcers of the securitization (Linn, Reference Linn2015).Footnote 31 Some of these were violently attacked by locals, not to mention the fact that all these enforcers were exposed to the risk of contracting Ebola themselves. I do not want to go into the Ebola crisis here in any more detail, because here the obligation to securitize is further complicated by the fact that Ebola is not a localized threat. That is to say that unless contained, Ebola could easily have developed into a pandemic affecting everyone. The case thus blurs the lines between mandatory self- and other-securitization. The Ebola case is interesting here merely to showcase that even in seemingly straightforward uncontroversial cases of other-securitization executors of securitization can be at risk of being attacked and even of losing their lives.

Given that most scholars who theorize the permissibility of humanitarian intervention (and those that focus on the justice of non-state organized violence) insist on consent (usually of the beneficiaries of the intervention/organized violence) (see, e.g., Kaldor, Reference Kaldor2012: 134; Parry Reference Parry2017a; Pattison Reference Pattison2010; Finlay, Reference Finlay2015), the idea of mandatory other-securitization without consent, including against the will of beneficiaries, raises the question why such securitizations are morally permissible (which we know forms the basis of a theory of mandatory securitization) at all? Indeed, does not the referent object’s refusal to being saved by securitization serve as a valid reason that voids the duty of other-securitization?

In JST, I discount the importance of consent of the beneficiary of securitization for two reasons. First, consent in theories of humanitarian intervention or political violence waged by non-state actors primarily serves to exonerate the intervener in cases gone awry. Second, consent is meant to guard against interveners being driven by their own political goals. In JST, however, inter alia the criterion of right intention already guards against that possibility. Having thus discounted the moral relevance of consent, mandatory other-securitization without consent requires our consideration and I will now move on to discuss the moral costs and risks as well as other practical reasons that void capable states’ pro tanto obligation of other-securitization.Footnote 32

2.5.1 Risk of Death, Disease, and Disability

Without doubt, the weightiest factor against mandatory other-securitization is the risk of the loss of lives on the side of the securitizing actor.Footnote 33 It is one thing to say that states are permitted to help other states to fight, for example, jihadi terrorism, but quite another to say that police forces, or military personnel of state A and other executors of securitization, must risk their lives in order to combat a terror threat to people of state B. While it is possible to object that there is not always the risk of death involved, it seems to me that the risk of being maimed, the risk of contracting a debilitating disease, and the risk of suffering severe psychological damageFootnote 34 weigh equally high, after all both ‘jeopardise [relevant individuals] prospects for a flourishing life’ (Fabre, Reference Fabre2007: 366). Moreover, short of hindsight we cannot know with absolute certainty that no one would be harmed in this way during securitization. In short, the question remains: do states have a duty of other-securitization, even at the risk of losing or irretrievably damaging the lives of their own soldiers, military personnel, police, doctors and nurses, and other executors of securitization? I think that this issue turns on whether potential executors of securitization voluntarily join professions that include these risks (British infantry soldiers, e.g., know that they might need to conduct peacekeeping/enforcement operations around the world), or whether they voluntarily sign up to specific missions (e.g., doctors working for Medicines Sans Frontiers, or police who join secondment operations abroad, or the many technical staff who volunteer for organizations like the German Technische Hilfswerk). As Fabre explains: ‘[…] individuals are not under a duty to incur a high risk of death or injury for the sake of another. But if they volunteer to do jobs which will lead them to incur such risks, then they are under the (contractual) duty to do just that. Thus, I, as a private citizen, am not under a duty to enter a burning building to save the child trapped inside, but you, as a fire-fighter, are’ (Fabre, Reference Fabre2007: 371; cf. McMahan, Reference McMahan, Davis, Keshen and McMahan2010: 69).Footnote 35 Provided that state A possesses willing, appropriate executors of securitization who wish to help relevant others and are fully aware of the possible risks involved, then the risk of death, disease, and disability does not override the duty of other-securitization.

But what happens if we turn this on its head. Suppose we have the situation whereby state B requests help from state A but state A does not have voluntary willing executors of securitization. This could be the case if state A only has a conscript army, with soldiers drafted to protect national security (assume here our case of other-securitization is fully outside of that remit).Footnote 36 In other words, we have a situation where people not only never volunteered to serve their country, but also never agreed to peacekeeping or peace enforcement missions elsewhere. A shortage of willing executors of securitization could also come about if the situation (the threat) requires besides military personnel also doctors and nurses to step up, but none (or an insufficient number) volunteer. This raises the following question: is state A morally obligated to carry out other-securitization even if this means compellingFootnote 37 suitable executors of securitization against their will? The latter brings all sorts of problems I cannot go into here, but the former already settles the case. Consider this that while in mandatory other-securitization by consent the risk of dying, disease, and disability may be less than in mandatory other-securitization without consent it is not zero. Notably, executors themselves could contract the disease they are fighting, as indeed did many NHS staff during the height of coronavirus crisis in 2020. This means that unwilling would-be executors of securitization cannot be forced to participate, after all participating scuppers their prospects of a good life.

So far so good, but this leaves open the question whether sufficiently wealthy states are morally obligated to employ one or more PMSCs to act on the duty of other-securitization. After all, as James Pattison has argued the use of PMSCs can be morally permissible ‘when doing so would be likely to be highly effective at helping to promote the enjoyment of several innocent individuals’ basic human rights’ (Pattison, Reference Pattison2014: 195). Be that as it may, Pattison’s extensive analysis of PMSCs leads him to conclude that there are deep moral problems with the existence of such actors, among other things, their use is likely to increase the occurrence and awfulness of wars, and moreover, the privatization of force will leave some actors more insecure than others. Overall, Pattison recommends that the use of PMSCs should generally be eschewed (ibid: 187). It seems to me that if our goal is the reduction of the awfulness and occurrence of securitization as it is for JST we must concur with this finding. I would therefore suggest that states and other actors may employ such companies (provided securitization is both just and obligatory) only when one of the two following scenarios is apparent: (1) one’s duty is overriding (as it is for just states and self-securitization) and when it cannot be met without employment of such groups; and (2) in cases where actors are morally or outcome responsible for the threat, and where they cannot act on the duty of other-securitization unless they employ PMSCs. Let us call this the exception clause. The exception clause is based on the understanding that PMSCs have the potential to significantly benefit the provision of security, yet that these organizations can also be dangerous and hence that their utilization needs to be limited. Limiting the use of PMSCs to cases where actors have either an overriding duty or where they are outcome responsible ensures that the issue is acted on by the actor who is the designated primary duty-bearer. In other words, it ensures fairness.

In summary, we can now say that with regard to state actors in mandatory state-led other-securitization, the obligation to securitize is overridden if a state does not possess free-willed and able executors of securitization ready to carry out securitization.Footnote 38

2.5.2 Risk of Instability and Insecurity

We have seen that the risk of dying, disease, and disability overrides a state’s obligation to securitize outsiders, when: (1) appropriate executors of securitization are unwilling to incur these risks, or (2) when the number of volunteers is too small. While this seems a new and somewhat alien topic in security studies, it chimes with long-standing objections that scholars, practitioners, and the general public have voiced against armed humanitarian intervention. Notably, armed humanitarian interventions are considered morally problematic if the intervener incurs losses (Wheeler and Dunne, Reference Wheeler, Dunne, Knight and 235Egerton2012: 93). In more detail: ‘Industrial societies, which have material and personnel capacity to contribute to peace operations, are frequently inhibited from doing so by what is labelled the “body-bag backlash” – the concern that if military personnel are killed during humanitarian interventions, the public will question or even condemn the exercise as being insufficiently important to national interests’ (Krieger, Mendlovitz and Pace, Reference Krieger, Mendlovitz, Pace and Johansen2006: 15–16).

The second principled objection against humanitarian intervention is the risk of instability and insecurity (cf. ICISS, 2001: 37). In this section, I want to consider whether the risk of instability and insecurity to itself can override a state’s duty to securitize outsiders.

The idea behind just securitization is to reduce harm by causing only necessary and proportionate harm to threateners, beneficiaries, and innocent bystanders. No matter how justifiedFootnote 39 securitization is, we have already seen that such conduct can lead to counter-securitization and – in agent-intended threats – potentially moral hazard (though see Bellamy and Williams, Reference Bellamy and Williams2012). Beyond this, securitization can also cause rifts between the external securitizing state and the threatener. For example, Russia imposed a series of counter-sanctions against EU member states,Footnote 40 after the EU-imposed sanctionsFootnote 41 against Russia in defence of ‘the territorial integrity, sovereignty, and independence of Ukraine’ (Foreign Affairs Council, 2014) following the annexation of Crimea. The risk of instability is thus real, and instability can render (new) and significant security problems for the securitizing actor. The question thus is: does the possibility that mandatory other-securitization can cause insecurity for the securitizing actor and its executors detract from the pro tanto duty to securitize?

In JST’s criterion, number 5 specifies that securitization is morally permissible only if securitization has a better chance of succeeding in securing the referent object than less harmful alternatives. However, in JST the concern is with the effects of securitization on the referent object (i.e., does it wind up more secure than it would otherwise be), not with the effects of securitization for the securitizing actor. In terms of JST, this is fine, because that theory does not demand of actors that they securitize putative referent objects. All it does is to specify when actors are permitted to securitize, should they wish to do so (cf. Introduction). By contrast, a theory of mandatory securitization must take much greater account of the effects of securitization on the securitizing actor. In the scholarly literature on global justice, it is generally accepted that unreasonable costs override obligations we have towards others. However, there is no universal definition of what constitutes unreasonable costs. The reason for this is that what counts as unreasonable costs depends on what we think we owe to others (Cf. Scheid, Reference Scheid and Scheid2014: 6–10; Beauchamp, Reference Beauchamp and Zalta2019). In short, the definition of unreasonable costs depends on individual scholars’ theories of justice.Footnote 42

Costs encompass different things. Often it is measured in terms of the lives lost, endangered, or lastingly compromised, but it also refers to consequential financial costs (cf. Dobos, and Coady, Reference Dobos, Coady and Scheid2014: 82). I think that in the context of other-securitization just as with armed humanitarian intervention, costs also refer to the risk of instability and insecurity. To be sure, one consequence of securitization is counter-securitization.Footnote 43 In the context of the latter, consider once again the example of jihad terror used in Chapter 1 (Section 1.4.1). Here, state A becomes a target for jihadi terrorists as a consequence of siding with its allies and friends (states B and C) in their fight against terrorism.Footnote 44 Given that other-securitization can make the securitizing actor insecure, is this actor obligated to securitize? The answer, I think, turns on how insecure the intervening state and its citizens are likely to become because of securitization. We know that the threshold cannot be the one whereby the putative securitizing state would end up as insecure as those it seeks to protect, let alone more insecure. In such cases, securitization is impermissible on the grounds of macro-proportionality. However, it is also possible that securitization is in principle proportionate (because the harm prevented is greater than that caused by securitization), but that this would come at an unreasonable cost to the securitizing actor. Although this cost will cause less universal harmful than the harm that would be prevented by securitization, it still overrides a duty to securitize, because other-securitization cannot come at the expense of the self. Given that the threshold serves to override a powerful and important duty, however, we also know that should-be securitizing actors must incur some costs to themselves. It is hard to put a finger on what precisely this amounts to. Philosophers usually talk about this issue by invoking Peter Singer’s (Reference Singer1972) drowning child example, whereby a person comes upon a drowning child in a pond. It is generally accepted that (1) the person must rescue the child at reasonable costs to himself, for instance, water damage to his expensive clothes and to money in his wallet, but (2) that he has no obligation to rescue the child if so doing puts his own life at risk (cf. Pattison, Reference Pattison2014: 120). This example can be and has been made less unequivocal by inserting various extras, for example, that rescuer has all his earthly possessions with him, or that rescuing will break his arm. Variations on the original example inter alia show that our understandings of reasonable/unreasonable here can shift according to context. All other things being equal, however, it seems that reasonable costs pertain to costs that – most people – could recover and that do not compromise the flourishing of the rescuer.

Consider now once more our example of jihadi terror (Section 1.4.1), wherein the securitizing actor at large is likely to incur harmful counter-securitization (e.g., become a target for terrorists). Given that this cost would inhibit the flourishing of some people within the rescuer state, the obligation to securitize is overridden even if there are a sufficiently big number of voluntary executors of securitization ready to carry out their task.Footnote 45

It remains to question whether this argument also works for unjust states? Given that these states are unjust, is it not the case that an intervention that would cause the unjust intervening state significant harm not ultimately a good thing, especially if it would weaken the grip of the regime? In other words, does – in such cases – the risk of instability fail to override the obligation to securitize? I think that even in these cases obligation is overridden by the risk of instability and insecurity. This is so because insecurity and instability affect morally innocent (in the relevant sense) people within the state, often much more than the unjust leaders of the regime. If NATO’s intervention into Libya teaches us one thing, it is that sometimes an unjust order is better than the removal of that unjust order.

2.5.3 Financial Costs

Often securitization costs money. This is rarely considered in security studies,Footnote 46 but the costs of military acts and even short-term policing efforts can very quickly amount to vast sums. For instance, the financial costs of security provision incurred by the German taxpayer when Hamburg hosted the G-20 for two days (7–8 July) in 2017 are estimated to have amounted to at least 130 million euros. Part of this very high cost was made up by the federal province (Bundesland) Hamburg needing to recruit 15.000 police from other federal provinces at the cost of 25.000 euros for a Hundertschaft (groups of 80–120 officers) per day (Dey et al., Reference Dey, Heinemann and Unger2017). Just as there are always financial costs attached to recruiting extra police, there are always financial costs attached to securing borders (e.g., by building physical defences but also staffing costs), to moving equipment and so on. But not only security interventions in another state’s territory cost money, remotely orchestrated security measures do too (often in the form of lost revenue). Consider, for example, that Russian counter-sanctions to EU-imposed sanctions following the Russian annexation of the Crimea peninsula led to a ‘significant decline in total exports to Russia over the period 2014 to 2016 […]. In the second half of 2014 EU exports to Russia declined by 17.8 % and thus fell to a value of USD 66.5 bn’ (Fritz et al., Reference Fritz, Christen, Sinabell and Hinz2017: 9). The unreasonable financial costs of other-securitization are important. No state has endless funds at its disposal; moreover no state, or for that matter, other actor can be expected to shoulder high and disproportionate costs to protect another.Footnote 47 But when are the financial costs of other-securitization prohibitive/unreasonable and thus override the pro tanto obligation to securitize? The obvious answer is this: when the financial costs of other-securitization leave the securitizing actor and/or the people, the state has security responsibility for insecure. To give an example, consider that the already mentioned case of the EU sanctions and Russian counter-sanctions, Italy – as one of the largest food exporters to Russia – is disproportionally adversely affected. Exports of capital goods and food have decreased from $14.5 billion in 2013 to $7.8 billion in 2016, with small businesses worst affected (Coticchia and Davidson, Reference Coticchia and Davidson2019: 77). In short, we can say that the financial costs of other-securitization are too high when other-securitization is likely to leave groups of people, and putative would-be securitizing actors have security responsibility for in significant financial trouble.

To conclude this subsection, we can now say that there are prohibitive costs and risks that override the duty of states to save and secure outsiders. In summary, based on the analysis provided, capable individual states are morally obligated to provide for other-securitization when the following conditions are satisfied:

  • The state in question has established must cause.

  • The would-be securitizing actor possesses willing, able, and sufficiently numerous executors of securitization.

  • Securitization is not likely to create significant insecurity or instability for the intervening state or its citizens.

  • The projected financial cost of other-securitization does not risk rendering the securitizing state and/or those it has security responsibility for, insecure.

2.5.4 Liability

So far so good, but what happens if putative referent objects are responsible for the insecurity, they are in. Consider again the case of drought disaster examined in Chapter 1. Although in this example the drought is a natural phenomenon and the threat thus agent-lacking, what if we alter the thought experiment so that the drought reaches the level of an existential threat only because the inhabitants of Millville did not adhere to early warnings, but continued to fill their swimming pools, wash their cars, etc. In short, what if they continued to use water for non-essential tasks/pursuits after having been informed that so doing will have adverse consequences? The question is: does outcome responsibility (here liability for threat creation) by the threatened entity (would-be referent object of securitization) override an external states’ obligation even if all other conditions for mandatory other-securitization are met?

Many global justice scholars do not venture onto the terrain of responsibilities for poor choices. Fabre, for example, acknowledges the fact that responsibility can affect duties, but excludes it for the purposes of analysis. For her, ‘beyond dispute is the thought that if individuals are not responsible, then they have a claim at the bar of justice’ (Fabre, Reference Fabre2012: 21, emphases in original). Most scholars do not venture onto this terrain because it goes against the grain of deeply held cosmopolitan beliefs. Caney, for example, rejects Rawls’ claim in The Law of Peoples (2001) that political regimes should take responsibility for poor choices and thus have no claim to be bailed out, on the grounds that ‘[c]osmopolitan principles of justice […] demand that the wealthy always redistribute their wealth in this way’ (2005: 130). Miller is one of the few global justice scholars who argues explicitly against this cosmopolitan principle. He suggests that states whose residents have deliberately lived above their means (e.g., by using up resources at unsustainable speed or by having too many children) and that are now poorer than states who – started from the same baseline – but whose residents have made more prudent choices (e.g., have used resources sparingly and reproduced at more sustainable rates) do not owe redistribution of goods to the poorer state (Miller, Reference Miller2007: 68–75). Collective responsibility plays a major role in Miller’s argument. He suggests that collective responsibility applies when members of a political community (for him a nation) either passively tolerate poor choices, or when passive objectors benefit from poor choices (ibid: 114–121). The only way to escape collective responsibility is to ‘take all reasonable steps to prevent the outcome occurring’ (ibid: 121).Footnote 48 It is important to note here that Miller is concerned with outcome responsibility, which is to say conduct that has ‘contributed to producing the outcome’, and not moral responsibility, which is to say morally blame or praiseworthy for the outcome (ibid: 86; 89). I am sympathetic to Miller’s view, in part because we live in a time when no one wants to take responsibility for the outcomes of either their omissions or their own actions when really, they should. Notably, overweight people increasingly place responsibility for the poor shape they are in with food manufacturers, smokers blame their addiction on the cigarette industry, and there was even a case of a former Oxford law student who decided to hold the university’s alleged poor teaching responsible for his own failure to receive a first-class degree. Considering all this, does it follow that liability for threat creation overrides the moral duty of third parties to save liable actors? For at least two reasons it does not. First, in every society there are likely to be innocent people, notably children,Footnote 49 while there are also people who will not have used up the water recklessly and those that lived by the rules, but who felt that they were powerless to stop others. There will also be ignorant people.Footnote 50 While we can say that it was these people’s duty to inform themselves (hence that they are culpably ignorant), what if such people are illiterate or resident in cut-off and backwards rural parts of the country? Second, it is immoral not to assist in relevant situations. Notably, Miller does not argue for non-assistance. Instead, he argues that if B is responsible for not having a resource (read: causing a threat), we cannot hold A under ‘a duty of justice to help B’ (Miller, Reference Miller2007: 249). But this does not mean that A does not have a humanitarian duty to alleviate suffering in B (Miller, Reference Miller2007: 257),Footnote 51 especially if ‘there is no prospect’ of the outcome responsible group discharging responsibility (ibid: 257).

In short, if must cause and all other conditions identified in this chapter are satisfied, able states have a duty to securitize third parties even in cases where third parties are responsible for their own predicament. The issue becomes relevant again, however, when state A (the would-be securitizing actor) is faced with multiple cases in need of other-securitization but has the resources (financially and manpower) to assist with only one. Thus, in such cases priority should be given to the case where referents are not, or less, culpable for threat creation.Footnote 52

More needs to be said about liability. Thus, what about those cases where the ‘should-be’ securitizing actor is responsible for threat creation, or in Miller’s terminology, where the securitizing actor is outcome, or even morally responsible for the threat to third parties? Here, we have no difficulty identifying remedial responsibility to other-securitize, after all we have just said that outcome responsibility is a pivotal element in remedial responsibility. Consider the following example.

Toxic waters

Wealthy state A routinely dumps toxic waste in poor state B. Over time, the toxic waste seeps into the ground and contaminates the water supply. The result is high rates of cancer, but also contamination of fish stocks in rivers and freshwater systems. With fish the main food source, the population of state B now suffers a famine. Social unrest, strife, and conflict become widespread.

The causal link of threat creation in toxic water is well understood, and outcome responsible state A has full remedial responsibility. The reason why I roll out this example is because I want to discuss what culpability in threat creation by the securitizing actor does to our four conditions when other-securitization is obligatory. The first condition was that of must cause; I argued that while securitization is permissible when it has a better chance of succeeding in achieving just cause than plausible, less harmful alternatives, securitization is obligatory when these less harmful, plausible alternatives (for short politicization) have been tried and failed to secure just cause. The question is this: is the threshold when securitization becomes obligatory the same in cases such as toxic water? Especially, if B demands securitization by state A before must cause is satisfied, is A in virtue of being outcome responsible not automatically obligated to securitize? My answer to this question is no. State A in virtue of being outcome responsible has the moral obligation to address the problem, but the people of state B are not entitled to the problem being addressed in a specific way (i.e., through securitization); instead, it is morally permissible for A to try other less harmful options first. Indeed, we must get away from the notion that securitization is the best thing simply because it means trying extraordinary measures; after all, if less harmful/ordinary measures achieve just cause, non-securitization is objectively better.

Another pertinent issue with such cases is this: if must cause is satisfied and state A is under the obligation to securitize, is the duty to securitize automatically overriding?Footnote 53 We can turn again to Miller for an answer. It seems to me that here (because of outcome responsibility) the three costs and risks cannot override the duty to securitize as readily as it can in other cases of other-securitization. Consider the risks of death, disease, and disability. In toxic water, the population of state A (from which executors of securitization would be drawn) is collectively responsible for the insecurity, not because they contributed to the problem by producing toxic waste and shipping it off themselves, but rather because they benefittedFootnote 54 from the industry that produced toxic waste (e.g., from jobs, the taxes paid by the relevant industry, or the goods produced). The only way individuals cannot be held collectively responsible is when they can show that they took ‘all reasonable steps to prevent the outcome from occurring. What is reasonable in a particular case will depend on how seriously harmful the prospective outcome is, and what costs different courses of action will impose on the dissenter’ (Miller, Reference Miller2007: 121), or if they were generally ignorant. According to Miller, the cost of dissenting is too high when a person endangers herself by dissenting. In the unlikely case that the number of bona fide dissenters is such that it leads to the unavailability of sufficient numbers of executors of securitization, then the obligation to act is overridden. Recall, however, that this case is a paradigmatic example of the exception clause. In short, provided the state is just and has the necessary financial means, then the shortfall of manpower may be made up by employing a PMSC.

Collective responsibility also means that residents of state A must be prepared to incur higher financial costs than they do for cases of other-securitization not necessitated by state A’s previous actions. To be sure, however, even here there is a limit. Although state A is morally culpable, it does not have to incur financial costs that would leave it at risk of becoming existentially threatened. Likewise, state A cannot be expected to face existential insecurity or instability because of aiding state B.

2.6 Individual States as Primary Duty-Bearers for Mandatory Other-Securitization?

One issue this chapter has alluded to but not yet addressed is that capable states are not the only actors that have a pro tanto remedial responsibility of other-securitization on the grounds of the moral equality of people. As will become clear in subsequent chapters, other actors – including sub-systemic collectives of states with a security focus (e.g., NATO) – can also have this remedial responsibility. This begs the question when, if ever, are sufficiently capable individual states (and other actors) the primary duty-bearers? By primary duty-bearer, I mean the actor who – among several possible duty-bearers – should be assigned the first duty of other-politicization, evolving – if necessary – into a duty of other-securitization.

To be sure, the duty of other-politicization is a general duty that stems from the moral equal worth of people. This duty is variably described as a duty of justice, a humanitarian duty, or even a duty of assistance (Miller, Reference Miller2007: 254–256). What matters is that there is a general agreement that there is a duty to help/rescue, or as I would put it secure, if actors are unable to help themselves. Some philosophers argue that there are no such things as special duties, but merely ‘“distributed general duties” […] whereby the moral community’s general duties get assigned to particular agents’ (Goodin, Reference Goodin1988: 678). Regardless of where one stands on this,Footnote 55 for the purposes of other-securitization Goodin’s view of assigning duties differently to distinct agents is instructive. While Goodin (Reference Goodin1988: 678 FN 41) leaves it open how duties are assigned to particular agents, Miller argues that remedial responsibility is tied to the following triggers: outcome responsibility (causal responsibility), moral responsibility (causal responsibility + blameworthiness), benefit (beneficiary of situation), capacity (capable of remedying the situation), and community (i.e., ties of friendship). Miller does not advance a ranking of these in terms of who should be assigned remedial responsibility; one reason for his reluctance is that reality is too messy. It is, for example, often difficult to be certain who has moral responsibility for an outcome, in part because ‘moral responsibility is a matter of degree’ (Miller, Reference Miller2001: 467).

A second reason for Miller’s reluctance is that he aims to ensure that those in need of help are always helped (ibid: 471). As Wouter Peeters et al. argue, however, this victim-centred view is not only unfair to ‘responsibility-bearers’ who ought to know why precisely they are being called upon, but also indeterminacy of multiple equally weighted principles means that potential bearers of responsibility can pass the buck (Peeters et al., Reference Peeters, De Smet, Diependaele, Sterckx, McNeal and De Smet2015: 23). Following Peeters et al., one can achieve a sequential ranking when one compares Miller’s criteria of remedial responsibility with common-sense morality.Footnote 56 In a nutshell, we can summarize common-sense morality as saying that moral responsibility for acts is considered weightier than omissions,Footnote 57 while moral and outcome responsibility are weightier than friendship and ties of community, both of which are considered morally significant. While there are difficulties with establishing moral responsibility, our moral intuitions tell us that those responsible for creating an undesired outcome have a primary duty to alleviate the situation. We can find this, for example, in climate ethics where the polluter pays principle tracks remedial responsibility as outcome, specifically moral responsibility (Caney, Reference Caney, Gardiner, Caney, Jamieson and Shue2010: 125–127), and where the beneficiary pays principle tracks remedial responsibility as causal responsibility.

Moreover, in common-sense morality pure capacity to remedy a situation is ranked, behind the obligation to help friends.Footnote 58 As Diane Jeske (Reference Jeske and Zalta2014) explains: ‘[…] Even if a person who is wealthier than me is actually in a better position to aid my friend, [in common-sense morality] it nonetheless seems to be the case that I have some reason to aid my friend that the person at least as well or better causally situated to do so does not have. She may have stronger agent-neutral reason to aid my friend, but she does not have the agent-relative reason arising from friendship that I have’.

Of course, common-sense morality faces its own challenges. Consequentialists, for example, discount the role of friends in favour of the obligation to maximize the greater good. Samuel Scheffler holds against this that special obligations to friends/community obtain when ‘persons have reason to value the relationships’ (cited in ibid.). To me, it seems intuitively right that persons should be assigned greater responsibility to help their friends than strangers.Footnote 59 After all: ‘You cannot be somebody’s friend unless you understand that this entails giving them certain kinds of priority in your life […]’ (Miller, Reference Miller2007: 35–36).

The thought that ties of friendship/community are weightier than ties of pure capacity is less likely to be controversial when provisions are made that – when friends cannot or (for whatever reason) will not deliver – ensure that responsibility shifts to capable actors, thus ensuring that ‘victims’ are cared for. But what does friendship or community mean in the context of mandatory other-securitization? Community is perhaps easier to understand because this term already exists in security studies where a security community describes the situation when war between members of the community has become unthinkable (Adler and Barnett, Reference Adler, Barnett, Adler and Barnett1998). Security communities can overlap with the boundaries of formal institutions (e.g., in the EU or NATO) or not, such as ‘the West’. Friendship is a fuzzier notion. In international relations, friendships may be motivated by care for the other, but perhaps more so by utilitarian motives. As Felix Berenskoetter (Reference Berenskoetter2014: 3–4) explains:

[…] in the case of international friendship it is difficult to argue that we are dealing with a relationship based purely on collectives falling in love with each other. Arguably most friendships form out of an instrumental relationship, where the initial interaction is driven by detached utilitarian motives, which then moves to another level as the actors come to know and appreciate each other’s qualities. Yet it would be misleading to read this process as a neat sequence in which ‘utility’ is entirely replaced by ‘care’.

The utilitarian motive means that friendships can serve different ends. This is important. It seems to me that relevant for remedial responsibility in mandatory other-securitization is not whether states are friends simpliciter but whether they are ‘security friends’. Berenskoetter would probably think that the idea of security friendship is tautological because real friendship is indivisibly bound to security (cf. Wheeler, Reference Wheeler2018). Berenskoetter holds that ‘friendship is […] a special relationship of choice which does not simply form on the basis of geographic proximity, close trade links or an otherwise high level of “interaction”, but through a mutual commitment to use overlapping biographical narratives for pursuing a shared idea of international order’ (2014: 9). Leaving aside the point whether relationships between states based on trade render them friends or merely trade/international business partners or acquaintances, Berenskoetter’s wider analysis suggests that we can recognize friendships between states when they voluntarily and trustingly engage in joint practices to shape the world in line with their ideal. States are most obviously security friends when they have formed what Adler and Barnett (Reference Adler, Barnett, Adler and Barnett1998: 55) have called ‘tightly coupled’ mature security communities where ‘national identity is expressed through the merging of efforts’ (ibid: 56).

Overall, Miller’s insights combined with Peeters et al.’s suggestion to invoke common-sense morality allow for the following sequential ranking of the various triggers for remedial responsibility for initially other-politicization and – if this fails to have the desired effect – other-securitization: (1) moral responsibility; (2) outcome responsibility (I would include benefit here); (3) friendship; and finally (4) capacity. While moral and outcome responsibility trump the other triggers, it can only be actioned when actors have the relevant capabilities.

What then does all this mean for individual state’s moral duty of other-securitization? It means that states are the primary duty-bearers of other-securitization when they are morally or outcome responsible for the insecurity. The ranking further means that states can be the primary duty-bearers when special ties of friendship are present. Given, however, that many states are a part of collective security arrangements and/or friends of collectives (for instance, Ukraine or Georgia with NATO), who are often more capable than individual states, individual states are not likely to be primary duty-bearers on the grounds of friendship very often. Moral responsibility trumps both of the other triggers, even when there are capable friends that could act, provided that the wrongdoer is capable of relevant action. In cases where duties conflict, but where both securitization and counter-securitization are justified (cf. Floyd, Reference Floyd2019a: 176), contractual obligations trump obligations to others.

Lest one should think otherwise this ranking of triggers holds true for mandatory other-securitization by consent as well as without consent. It is crucial to remember that other-securitization is not about large-scale armed military intervention into a friend’s territory; instead, it might mean that friends suspend – as part of mandatory other-securitization without consent – diplomatic ties or trade guarantees.

Finally, I have argued (including in Section 2.4) that other-securitization rests on a prior duty of other-politicization. This raises the following question: are morally culpable actors that are obviously incapable of other-securitization (e.g., because they do not have a functioning military) still the designated first outside responder in relevant situations? Against this, we might argue that our focus should be on what is best for those in need of help as opposed to what is best for those that should help.Footnote 60 And that by requiring these actors to help first, we risk that a suitable response is delayed during which suffering continues.Footnote 61 By contrast, the affirmative case is based on fairness (e.g., solve what you have caused), while it is also informed by the view that we must not overrate the value of securitization. After all, the outcome responsible actor can still do something ‘ordinary’ to alleviate the situation, and this something might reduce the need for other-securitization (cf. Chapter 1, Section 1.2) by further actors. I lean towards the latter explanation, also because a theory of mandatory securitization insures against unnecessary delay by demanding that when actors have reached ‘must cause’ but can go no further, they have a duty to request help from other more capable actors.Footnote 62

2.7 Conclusion

This concludes my analysis of the obligations of state actors regarding securitization. To summarize, I have argued that when must cause is satisfied just states are obligated to securitize the state or the citizens within states because the primary function of the state is the provision of security. I suggested that no considerations concerning the risks involved in securitization (e.g., instability) can override just states’ obligation of self-securitization because the failure to provide security terminates the social contract and thus effectively spells the end of the state. In short, here, when must cause is satisfied, not securitizing is always a greater risk than securitizing.

From here, I have gone on to examine the obligation that able states have regarding securitization of people within less able states. I have shown why they have a duty to help people abroad, and when they have such a duty. I have shown why a number of considerations including – the risk of dying, disease, and disability – can override the pro tanto obligation of other-securitization. In short, unlike self-securitization within just states, the duty of able states to securitize to save third parties is conditional. Finally, I have examined what triggers the remedial responsibility of first mandatory other-politicization and – if must cause is satisfied – mandatory other-securitization. I have argued for a ranking of triggers, whereby culpability for threat creation trumps benefit, which in turn trumps friendship, while friendship trumps pure capacity.

One issue that remains outstanding is whether states and other actors have a duty to actively look for insecurities in other places. This issue comes about, because of the possibility of mandatory other-securitization. It seems, however, that ‘the duty of beneficence’ does not require this. This is clear from the much-used example of the Good Samarian, wherein ‘a would-be rescuer has a duty to aid a victim, even if no special circumstances obtain between them’ but without ‘a duty to patrol the road seeking to apprehend robbers or looking for other robbery victims’ (Scheid, Reference Scheid and Scheid2014: 9).Footnote 63

Finally, and as before with Chapter 1, the analysis provided in this chapter raises some questions regarding the specifics of JST and whether the theory is allowed to stand, or whether it needs amending in some way. Just Securitization Theory argues that securitization is morally permissible when there is a current objective existential threat to an objectively valuable referent object. In other words – and provided that all other criteria are satisfied – in those circumstances would-be securitizing actors are morally permitted to use emergency measures against a threatener or a threat. In this chapter, I have argued that other-securitization without consent is not obligatory unless there is an unaddressed objective existential threat. In and of themselves both statements are sound, but they do raise the question whether other-securitization is also only morally permissible when there is an unaddressed real threat? Or is it the case that external powers are permitted to other-securitize when the threat is addressed but when the strategy to deal with the threat is poor? To stick, with the example from above (Section 2.4), would the EU be morally permitted to securitize against gun violence in the United States (e.g., by using sanctions) on the grounds that the United States’s strategy of addressing the threat is poor, after all gun violence continues to be a problem?Footnote 64 Recall that in the above I argue that in this case there is no obligation to securitize, indeed to act at all, because the issue is – even if poorly– addressed by the sovereign state, and sovereign states can determine how they address issues. And yet, it seems intuitively correct that if, in this case, the EU wants to do something, and if the United States’s strategy really is poor, they should be permitted to do just that (note here that proportionality might render securitization unjust anyway). The question ultimately is whether permissible other-securitization can be reconciled with self-determination. The principle of mandatory securitization is really based on the idea that there are some things states are not allowed to do. Most notably if a state endangers an innocent (in the relevant sense) minority – other states, etc., have a duty to come to the rescue. In other words, self-determination is not sacrosanct. This is important because it allows for some much-needed nuance. Thus, while a duty to act does not arise when a threat is addressed by the primary duty-bearer (cf. Section 2.4), if the threat is only partially mitigated by the actions of the primary duty-bearer, nothing prohibits external actors (here the EU) from acting on the issue.


1 Philosophers differentiate between perfect and imperfect duties, and latterly between positive and negative duties (Varden, Reference Varden and Chatterjee2011: 280–283). While there is some overlap, I stay clear of these terms, for two reasons: (1) an imperfect duty is not simply the inverse of perfect duty (cf. Roff, Reference Roff2013: 15–6), and (2), as Pattison (Reference Pattison2022) has argued in a review of Luke Glanville’s Sharing Responsibility, duties of mandatory securitization are not imperfect duties at all because the theory assigns them to agents each step of the way.

2 The deep connection between the duty to securitize and the general duty to secure is reflected in the title of this book.

3 Consider here also that forbidding unjust states to secure their own populations would mean that someone else would have to do this; surely – given the costs and risks – a responsibility no state would wish to have.

4 Cf. FN 83.

5 During the coronavirus, the government of North Rine-Westphalia (Germany) floated the idea of a pandemic law that would have enabled the state to force – against their will – medical personal to work during the pandemic.

6 The duty to ask for help with internal securitization also applies in cases when securitization would incur huge costs on the domestic security forces, for example, when securitization of organized crime (internally) would risk the lives of countless police. On this issue, please note that excessively harmful securitizing actions are morally impermissible under the just conduct to securitization principles. However, this does not detract from the duty to securitize, but it merely means that this duty must be fulfilled by other means. My thanks to James Pattison for alerting me to this point.

7 We might think here of President Maduro not accepting help to deal with the famine and economically dire situation in Venezuela in 2019.

8 As Roberta Cohen (Reference Cohen, Knight and Egerton2012) explains that the United Nation (UN) Commission on Human Rights’ Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (1998) ‘do not explicitly state that international aid can be provided without the consent of the affected country, the obligation imposed on states by humanitarian and human rights law to refrain from refusing reasonable offers of international assistance makes it difficult to dispute the existence of a duty to accept such offers’ (Cohen, Reference Cohen, Knight and Egerton2012: 15, emphasis in original).

9 Securitizing requests are speech acts by actors who speak security, not with the intention to initiate their own securitization, but instead with the intention to convince other more powerful actors (most notably in this context governments) to securitize (cf. Floyd, Reference Floyd2018).

10 Following the principle of ‘ought implies can’, I refer here to states that could carry out securitization the duty as being obligated to do so. Indeed, we may say that circumstances leave an actor incapable to carry out a pro tanto obligation as duty-voiding (cf. Frederick, Reference Frederick2015). I would like to thank Danny Frederick for helpful discussions on this point.

11 Pattison speaks of the welcoming principle (2018: 60).

12 Wheeler and Dunne (Reference Wheeler, Dunne, Knight and 235Egerton2012) use similar categories to discuss RtoP; however, I only read their discussion after already coming up with these terms.

13 I differentiate between securitizing actors and executors of securitization. These can be the same – and in securitizations by sub-state actors are likely to be thus. Generally, however, the securitizing actor is the actor who speaks and initiates securitization (by making new emergency laws, etc.), while executors are those actors who act to enforce the emergency law (police, military, etc.).

14 Able states would be those that have the necessary capability to securitize should the need arise. This includes unjust states, which is to say, states that do not satisfy a minimum floor of basic human needs (cf. Floyd, Reference Floyd2019a: chapter 4).

15 The idea that ‘even apart from any special circumstance, helping or rescuing strangers is a positive duty, at least in some limited circumstances’ (Scheid, Reference Scheid and Scheid2014: 8).

16 I include cosmopolitan just war scholars into this group.

17 Here, the ‘why’ and the ‘when’ melt into one, because the fact that people are believed to have human rights already includes why we have obligations to help them.

18 Notably, this enables him to make human rights only about those things that are ‘essential’ to human beings (Miller, Reference Miller2007: 18) while being able to ignore other alleged human rights.

19 To reiterate, existential threats are then threats to the essential properties or functions of the referent object, not necessarily threats to its survival.

20 This concurs with Caney, Reference Caney2005: 105, who stresses that duties are owned only to individuals not to states.

21 Here, the moral equality of people rules out the view that we do not owe anything.

22 Singer argues: ‘[…]if it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance, we ought, morally, to do it. By “without sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance” I mean without causing anything else comparably bad to happen, or doing something that is wrong in itself, or failing to promote some moral good, comparable in significance to the bad thing that we can prevent’ (Singer, Reference Singer1972: 231).

23 Assume here that A has already started with securitization because they have exhausted politicization.

24 That there is a duty to act through politicization in the national context became apparent in Chapter 1, Section 1.4.

25 What I mean by successive will become clearer in Chapter 5, where I argue for a tiered and sequential structure identifying duty-bearers at different levels of analysis responsible for other-securitization where other actors have failed or legitimately evaded their duties.

26 We can find this also with regard to RtoP, where the threshold for pillar III measures is that ‘a state is found to have “manifestly failed to protect”’ (Bloomfield, Reference Bloomfield, Bloomfield and Scott2017: 29), not – as it was in the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty’s – when states are unwilling or unable to protect. Cater and Malone (Reference Cater, Malone, Bellamy and Dunne2016: 125) speak of ‘a high just cause threshold for military intervention’. While here the general thought is correct, the issue is not one of just cause but rather one of proportionality. See also Tesón and Van der Vossen (Reference Tesón and Van der Vossen2017) whose green button experiment shows that proportionality not just cause is the prohibitive threshold to just armed humanitarian intervention.

27 In principle, such a strategy could be mindful inaction; for reasons discussed in Chapter 1, Section 1.4, however, I assume this not to be the case.

28 We can understand political self-determination as encompassing two things: (1) an internal dimension whereby states are sovereign regards internal politics and (2) the external dimension that concerns ‘relations between the self-defined community and the outside world’ (IISS, 1992: 16). Security measures that are launched remotely usually target the latter.

30 In the broadest possible sense.

31 Similar problems prevailed during the Ebola crisis in the Congo in 2019.

32 Some readers will take issue with the paternalism informing this part of the argument (indeed the issue might very well unite, otherwise conflicting postmodern and postcolonial critical security scholars and analytical moral philosophers). Many philosophers approach paternalism as distinctively wrong (e.g., Parry, Reference Parry2017b, Reference Parry2022). While I do not share that view, the charge of paternalism is problematic for a theory (here JST) that considers autonomy one of its basic components, because ‘paternalistic actions […] constitute intrusions into individuals’ spheres of autonomous agency’ (Fox, Reference Fox2019: 328). Paternalists hold against this that interference can – at times – improve a person’s life and in the long durée ensure the continuous enjoyment of autonomy (cf. Dworkin, Reference Dworkin and Zalta2020). It seems to me that failing to save people from an objective existential threat against their expressed preferences is all-things-considered worse than temporarily infringing their autonomy. More importantly still, among groups of people (West Africans suffering from Ebola) will be children and other not fully informed people (cf. Section 2.5.4). This means the rejection by (some) adults of other-securitization against the Ebola virus does not ‘merely’ affect their autonomy, but it ‘violates duties to assignable others’ (Flinch Midtgaard, Reference Flinch Midtgaard2021: 8). Indeed, it is generally accepted that provided an interference (here other-securitization) is ‘other-regarding’ (which is to say, an action that infringes the autonomy of one person, or a group of people A, with a view to protecting a second group of people B, from the adverse effects of A’s self-regarding action), is not a paternalist one (cf. Footnote ibid).

33 I differentiate between executor of securitization and securitizing actors; in this case, however, I mean both as well as the populations of the securitizing state.

34 On this point, see Dobos and Coady, Reference Dobos, Coady and Scheid2014, 84–85.

35 By contrast, private individuals have duties to help others (including mandatory killing of their attackers) if they do not incur a high risk themselves (Fabre, Reference Fabre2007: 370; see also Singer, Reference Singer1972: 231). Thus, if one held that only professionals are under a duty to save others: ‘one would not be under a moral duty to rescue a child from a pond unless one were a lifeguard’ (Fabre, Reference Fabre2007: 371).

36 In our interconnected world, threats in far-away places often affect our security. Climate change, for example, might lead to long-distance migration or even encourage terrorism. The point here is that if other-securitization actually primarily serves the national interest views on the permissibility of conscription might change (cf. Fabre, Reference Fabre2012: 185).

37 Assume here for the sake of argument this is possible and permissible; in reality, here the duty is likely to be void.

38 Of course, other-securitization may not entail action in the threat zone but be carried out remotely. Though the chances of being targeted are reduced, it is still possible that executors located remotely would be targeted (including terror attacks, targeted sanctions, kidnapping, cyberattack, drone strikes, or assassinations).

39 Technically, according to JST, all criteria must be met for securitization to be justified; however, I acknowledge that securitizing actors wilfully securitizing perceived, as opposed to real, threats or wilfully exceeding appropriate measures and micro-proportionality is less excusable and thus morally worse than securitizations where actors mean to do the right thing, but due to mistaken beliefs do not.

40 For example, it has in place an import ban that ‘includes beef and pork of all kinds, poultry and poultry products, smoked foodstuffs and sausages, milk and milk products including raw milk and all foodstuffs containing milk as well as fish, vegetables and fruits’ (Fritz et al., Reference Fritz, Christen, Sinabell and Hinz2017: 4).

41 Including ‘measures to restrict Russia’s access to EU capital markets, • an embargo on the imports and exports of arms and related material from/to Russia, • a prohibition of exports of dual use goods and technology for military use in Russia as well as • of products that are destined for deep water oil exploration and production, arctic oil exploration or production and shale oil projects in Russia’ (Fritz et al., Reference Fritz, Christen, Sinabell and Hinz2017: 4).

42 Some, like Miller (Reference Miller2007), do not see this as a matter of justice, but as humanitarianism instead.

43 A securitization launched by A in direct response to a securitization by B.

44 This example is not far-fetched; Spain, for example, became a target for Islamic jihadists only after José María Aznar declared solidarity with George W. Bush’s ‘war on terror’ (McLaughlin, Reference McLaughlin2017. Likewise, Bulgaria, Poland, and Hungary were threatened and ‘designated as “enemies of Muslims” in a statement issued by Ayman al-Zawahiri’ because of their involvement into the Iraq war (Mareš, Reference Mareš2011: 241).

45 Some people might argue that securitization should be forbidden in these circumstances; however, most people think that self-determination is an important element of justice. As ever, securitization might be impermissible because it is disproportionate.

46 By contrast, the cost of war is always discussed.

47 Thomas G. Weiss (Reference Weiss2016: 151) argues this about the United States in the light of the 2014 Quadrennial Defence Review that balanced fiscal challenges against security needs.

48 Note here that minority groups exploited by the regime, or not benefitting from the same, are excluded from charges of national responsibility (Footnote ibid: 132).

49 James Griffin (Reference Griffin2008: 44), for example, argues that children become ‘agents in stages’, whereby he defines agency as: ‘involved in living a worthwhile life’ (45).

50 As a case in point consider that during the coronavirus crisis in 2020 Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel were disproportionally affected. The New York Times states that: ‘Experts attribute the proliferation among the ultra-Orthodox to overcrowding and large families, deep distrust of state authority, ignorance of the health risks among religious leaders, an aversion to electronic and secular media that they believe is mandated by religious law, and a zealous devotion to a way of life centred on communal activity’ (Halbfinger, Reference Halbfinger2020).

51 If I understand Miller correctly, the difference between a duty of justice and a humanitarian duty is that the former is always enforceable while the latter can be overridden (2007: 258). I cannot comment on the meaning of a duty of justice and whether it must be absolute, but if this chapter is correct, it seems to me true that humanitarian duties or the duty to securitize can be overridden.

52 I thank Jonathan Parry for this suggestion.

53 The difference between this case and other-securitization without liability is that the former is ‘not a case of aid […] it is a case of compensatory justice’ (Dobos and Coady, Reference Dobos, Coady and Scheid2014: 80).

54 For Miller, this is one of the triggers of remedial responsibility. In form of the ‘beneficiary pays principle’, we can also find this in climate ethics where it is used to hold citizens of states who have benefitted from historic carbon emissions remedially responsible for the harm climate change is causing in less developed countries today (cf. Caney, Reference Caney, Gardiner, Caney, Jamieson and Shue2010: 128).

55 I side with Miller’s (Reference Miller2007: 42–46) view that special duties to friends and compatriots obtain and that this is not unjust, provided that general duties relate to the extension and respect of key human rights for all (see also Nagel, Reference Nagel2005: 132).

56 ‘Common-sense ethics’ refers to the pre-theoretical moral judgments of ordinary people’ (Brown, Reference Brown1998: 1). According to Haworth, it is based on ‘two types of ethical beliefs: norms and evaluations’ (Haworth, Reference Haworth1955: 251), whereby norms proscribe how one ought to behave in a society, while evaluation concerns investigations about the relative value of prized events.

57 It should be noted here that in moral philosophy the issue of moral disparity between these action and omission is contested. Consider that omitting does not necessarily equate to inaction (e.g., ‘Is someone who is standing rigidly to attention best described as keeping still [an action] or as not moving [an omission/inaction]’ (Zimmerman, Reference Zimmerman and Skorupski2010: 609)?). And yet, the moral distinction in everyday life between doing harm and allowing harm is pronounced. After all, most people think it is worse to kill someone than to let people die. Otherwise, as Zimmerman (Footnote ibid) points out how else might we explain that abject poverty (including death from preventable diseases and starvation) is not more effectively dealt with while murder is punished everywhere.

One reason that can explain this difference is that we in Zimmerman’s words ‘take being casually complicit in the occurrence of some outcome to be morally significant’ (Footnote ibid: 615; cf. Woollard, Reference Woollard2015: 23). In more detail: ‘to kill is to act, whereas to let die is to omit to act, and action and omission are of such a nature that we bear responsibility for our acts in a way in which we do not bear responsibility for our omissions’ (Zimmerman, Reference Zimmerman and Skorupski2010: 607). To me, it seems intuitively correct that responsibility for our actions contributes to our blameworthiness and hence the level of penance. In other words, if one’s causal role in an outcome is relevant to culpability, it seems logical that there is a moral difference between action and omission. Moreover, the causal factor also allows for a succinct distinction between doing and allowing harm. Fiona Woollard holds that: ‘An agent counts as doing harm if and only if a fact about the agent’s behavior is part of the sequence leading to the harm’. While an agent ‘merely [allows] harm if and only if some fact about the agent’s behavior is relevant to, but no fact about the agent’s behavior is part of, the sequence leading to harm’ (Woollard, Reference Woollard2015: 35).

Woollard (Reference Woollard2016) explains why the distinction between doing and allowing is pertinent to a practicable moral theory. ‘Treating doing and allowing harm as equivalent seems to leave us with a morality that is either much more permissive than we normally think it is (permitting us to do harm to others to avoid personal sacrifices) or much more demanding (requiring us to prevent harm to others even at great personal sacrifice)’ (Woollard, Reference Woollard2016).

58 To my mind, this is in equilibrium with communitarianism’s recognition of special duties.

59 See also Berenskoetter who argues that: ‘While this relationship [i.e., friendship] can take many forms, the cosmopolitan dream of a bond among all humankind is not suitable to serve as the basis for a serious discussion of friendship. As friends are closer to each other than they are to non-friends, one might say friendship is an intimate relationship’ (2014: 3).

60 I assume here that not having to act to save outsiders is considered generally preferable because no costs are incurred.

61 Note here that exempting wrongdoers with insufficient capacity to securitize does not automatically increase the likelihood of securitization, after all other-politicization can achieve the same goal.

62 For those interested in fairness and perhaps also deterrence, note that wrongdoers have – if requested to do so – a moral duty to assist desecuritizing actors with just desecuritization. This applies specifically to restorative measures which see desecuritizing actors rebuild relations between parties adversely affected by securitization (Floyd, Reference Floyd2019a: chapter 7). An apology for threat creation is one such thing even severely financially challenged wrongdoers could do. By extension, wrongdoers have a duty to assist with securitization to the best of their ability if requested to do so by secondary duty-bearer of mandatory other-securitization.

The idea that powerless but morally responsible actors can play a supplementary role in securitization and/or desecuritization also suggests that – especially securitization – can be carried out by a group of actors. For example, security friends with insufficient capabilities could team up with capable actors. Indeed, this might even work to create friendship; research on environmental peace-building, for example, suggests cooperation between foes to tackle a joint problem builds trust and can lead to peace (Conca and Dabelko, Reference Conca and Dabelko2002).

63 Some might object that a duty of beneficence can include a duty to patrol, and – in evidence – point to the significance of early warning as part of the UN’s work on genocide prevention. With a view to the UN, some analysts go further, Heather Roff’s has suggested that a new global juridical body must monitor domestic governments as well as international organizations, including the UN (Roff, Reference Roff2013: 115). To my mind, however, this is based on a specific cosmopolitan duty of justice that is not only too demanding, but potentially counterproductive. At the state level, for example, it could create a culture of suspicion between security friends, eroding trust and thus friendship.

64 It must be acknowledged; this hypothetical is for illustrative purposes only. Lucia Rafanelli offers a comparable real-world example with the EU’s export ban of ‘lethal injection drugs to the US for the express purpose of getting the country to abolish the death penalty’ (2021: 50).

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