Major research results – University of Copenhagen

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Major research results

The Copenhagen School's concept of securitisation

The 'Copenhagen School' in international politics research has introduced the concept of ‘securitisation’. This school of thought sees ‘security’ as a speech act with direct consequences for policy. Statements about security are used to move phenomena from the political arena over into a 'security' domain, legitimising the introduction of extraordinary measures. Securitisation is intersubjective, i.e. it refers neither to an objective threat nor to a subjective perception of threat, but depends on the audience accepting the speech act. Securitisation helps explain what phenomena like religion, the climate and the environment, terrorism, technology and disasters mean for international politics. 

Risk management to tackle change and uncertainty

In a changing world – e.g. due to globalisation, climate change and growth in Asia – it is sometimes difficult to see the bigger picture and the common threads running through events and policies. Research at the University of Copenhagen shows that political stakeholders tend to focus on risk management in an attempt to address change and protect themselves against the uncertainty that it throws up. Viewed from this perspective, there is logic in the way that states, companies and individuals act, a logic in which security has been replaced by balancing one risk against another.

National forms of democracy as indicators of willingness to engage in international affairs

Marlene Wind studies how countries' different forms of democracy affect their willingness to integrate and work with international institutions. She distinguishes between 'majority democracy', as pertains in Denmark and the other Nordic countries, and the 'constitutional democracy' commonplace elsewhere in Europe. Wind has come to the conclusion that the Danish form of democracy with 'no one above or equal to parliament' differs greatly from the kind of democracy found in the EU and in the rest of Europe. This helps to explain the widespread scepticism about international courts prevalent not only in Denmark but also in Sweden, Finland, and to some extent in the UK.

Identification of interrelationships that affect international law

Mikael Rask Madsen has identified the subtle interrelationships between actual stakeholders and the broader geopolitical and socio-cultural contexts within which international law takes shape in the world today.