Dr Rita Floyd

ISRF Mid-Career Fellow 2019

Dr Rita Floyd

ISRF Mid-Career Fellow 2019

ISRF Rita Floyd

Rita Floyd is Senior Lecturer in Conflict and Security in the Department of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Birmingham. Her research interests include security and International Relations theory, environmental security and, more recently, ethics and security. She has a monograph forthcoming in 2019 (with Cambridge University Press) entitled The Morality of Security: A Theory of Just Securitization. This book offers a new way of approaching ethics and security by bringing together insights from moral philosophy via the just war tradition, and Security Studies via securitization theory. This book develops principles of just securitization concerned exclusively with when securitization (i.e. the use of emergency politics whereby putative threats are addressed using exceptional means) is morally permissible. Developing this project, her work for the ISRF takes her existing research on ethics and security further. Her project Emergency politics: security, threats and the duties of states, aims to unpick when securitization is morally required, tackling issues such as culpability in threat creation and the obligation to securitize. Whilst this project is ultimately intended as a research monograph in its own right, it builds logically on the assumptions of Floyd’s existing work on just securitization. After all, a theory of the obligation to securitize must begin by thinking about the permissibility to do so, as one can only have a duty to perform acts (i.e. securitization) that are permissible.

Emergency Politics: Security, Threats and the Duties of States

This project works at the interface between moral/political philosophy and International Relations/security studies with the aim of answering the curiously ignored, yet pertinent question: When, if ever, are states morally obliged to treat putative threats as a matter for emergency politics and address them using exceptional measures? This question has received scant attention because states have a moral duty to act on matters of national security. However, faced with the rampant proliferation of national security threats (real or perceived), states simply do not have the resources to treat all of them as emergencies warranting special measures. They cannot ‘securitize’ all of these issues. Neither is securitization necessarily the best solution – after all, there is no guarantee that acting by rendering threats a top priority and employing exceptional means makes for greater security. Furthermore, many threats are transnational and as such cannot be adequately addressed by one state.

This project answers the research question by utilizing the just war tradition which sets forth universal moral principles that govern the morality of war. Relevant for this project are those just war theorists working on the obligation to wage war, primarily because the international community now has a responsibility to protect citizens of other states from a select list of grave harms (including genocide) inflicted/tolerated by their own governments. Originating from these ideas, this research aims to establish the conditions and thresholds for when states are obliged to securitize, focusing on who has such duties, why and on what issues.

This research benefits scholars interested in the ethics of security (e.g. security scholars, philosophers, criminologist and law scholars) who can use it to recommend what governments should do in relevant situations. By furthering knowledge, this project also facilitates greater awareness of ethics and security in practitioner communities and among the interested public.

Research Outcomes

  • Floyd, R. (2019). States, Last Resort, and the Obligation to Securitize. Polity51(2), 378-394.
  • Floyd, R. (2019). Evidence of securitisation in the economic sector of security in Europe? Russia’s economic blackmail of Ukraine and the EU’s conditional bailout of Cyprus. European Security28(2), 173-192.

Contacting Fellows

If you would like to contact any of our Fellows to discuss their ISRF-funded work, please contact Dr Lars Cornelissen (Academic Editor) in the first instance, at [email protected].