Nathan Sears was a key voice in bringing the study of existential threats to humanity to the field of International Relations. His juxtaposition of national and existential security, and accounts of failures by major powers to adopt the latter frame, engage core questions of failures to securitize these potentially catastrophic threats and of great power (ir)responsibility. His work can also be read as a provocative entry point to a discussion of the governance challenge when existential security is at stake. It highlights the tensions between the necessity of mobilizing resources, building consensus, and creating legitimacy to address threats to humanity and doing so in a just and equitable way that acknowledges the unequal power dynamics in ‘speaking’ and ‘doing’ security. This debate potentially challenges some core premises of securitization theory. It also has enormous practical implications for addressing some of the gravest challenges of our time.
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