Normalising Travel Warning in Global Political Discourse

As the world continues to change in social and economic aspects, no country can survive without engaging in global politics to ensure a better livelihood for citizens. It is also important to understand that predicting what will happen in international politics is difficult. This is primarily due to the fact that global leaders rely on a variety of data to make decisions that protect their countries’ interests, which will eventually pay off for citizens.

The terrorist attack on the Pentagon in the United States on September 11, 2001, was one of many noteworthy events that year. It served as a strategic turning point for world leaders, particularly American presidents, regarding how to ensure adequate security. When insecurity and safety issues are discussed in various fora or covered by the media, some groups, people, and nations are constructed and portrayed as folk devils as a result of the incident. The global south’s citizens and nations have borne the majority of the burden of construction and representation.

As mentioned previously, the incident served as a strategic turning point that sparked ongoing changes in how nations in the global north advise their citizens to travel to nations in the global south. Travel warning information is frequently updated by nations like the United States of America, Canada, France, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand in response to changes in public health, crime, terrorism, hostage-taking or kidnapping incidents, civil unrest, natural disasters, and other risks. World Nomads documents the changes every day.

Registration for Tekedia Mini-MBA (Feb 6 – May 6 2023) has startedRegister here. Cost is N60,000 or $140 for the 12-week program if you register by Nov 11, 2022. Beat the early bird for free books, discounts and other bonuses. 

Formulated Indicators

An examination of the existing indicators reveals that these countries use various constructs to define a specific indicator. For example, after reviewing the characteristics of the risks mentioned earlier, the United States of America and Canada typically issued four levels of travel alert. The four levels from US embassies to Americans are: normal precaution, increased caution, reconsider travel, and do not travel. Canada embassies follow a similar pattern, with minor differences in the wording of the levels. Instead of exercising normal security precautions, Canadian embassies issue alerts using normal security precautions.

Exercise a high degree of caution is the second level of alert for Canada instead of exercise increased caution level of the US’ alert statement. Avoid non-essential travel and avoid all travel are the third and fourth level of Canadian embassies. These levels are similar to those used by other countries in the global north when communicating travel alerts to their citizens.

According to a critical analysis of these levels, the US and Canada appear to have mastered the construction and representation of individuals and nations in the global south in relation to risks that have been identified. For instance, it is highly derogatory to use phrases like “a high degree of” and “avoid all travel.” The phrases imply that even though there are people in the country, it is not at all safe for them, and that the government does not genuinely care about their quality of life. “We issue an overall Travel Advisory level for a country, but levels of advice may vary for specific locations or areas within a country,” the US Department of State denotes.

Our analyst interprets this as “travel warning hegemony.” A new concept that could be properly positioned in global political discourse, in which lower and middle socioeconomic and political status countries are expected to compete and negotiate for recognition before capturing value from global opportunities.

Knowledge or Power in Contesting the Indicators

According to our checks, governments and individuals, including friends of the countries profiled as not secure and safe, have taken the course of contesting the alerts, describing them as discriminatory and capable of jeopardizing economic growth. The protest’s outcomes are still mixed. In some cases, the global north countries simply reduced the travel advisory based on the previously discussed indicators. The Nigerian government recently expressed concern about travel advisories issued by some embassies to their personnel in Nigeria.

Our analyst believes that improving intelligence gathering is critical for countries in the global south that are contesting the indicators. External organizations or parties issuing security status scorecards for countries based on intelligence gathering is absurd. When it comes to security and safety, governments and security agencies must recognize that it is rarely about power. It is a question of who has the necessary knowledge to make strategic decisions.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *