National Security and Emergency Management After September 11

November 2005 (VOL. 23, NO. 3)

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The terrorist attacks in New York on September 11 2001 have troubled the practice of security. There has been renewed emphasis on the need for a layered security strategy, and this has refocused attention on civil defense. As a consequence, emergency management institutions are increasingly being incorporated under the aegis of ‘national security’. This is resulting in the implementation of older command and-control type models of emergency management at the expense of the prevention-oriented, preparedness and community based approaches that emerged after the end of the Cold War. The paper situates this recent convergence of security and emergency management in a discussion of the evolution of both policy fields since the end of WWII. It then explains the post- September 11 trend towards centralizing authority in emergency management in Australia, but with considerable reference to parallel developments in the United States. The paper argues that while this retrogressive shift seems inimical to contemporary advances in emergency management, an inclusive interpretation of security-as human security-could serve to reinforce the important developments made in the field of emergency management in the last decade.