chapter  5
29 Pages

Aviation security

Our last and final case study relates to aviation security risks and global multilevel attempts to manage them. Our understanding of the term ‘aviation security’ is deployed flexibly to refer to the idea that airports are key sites where global governance regimes interact directly with citizens but that these regimes are not necessarily restricted to the airport or even aeroplanes. Aviation security then is essentially concerned with regulating the people and objects that may gain access to global aviation systems – including airports, aeroplanes and flights – in order to prevent security risks from disrupting either the aviation sector itself, society more generally or both. Like its predecessors, this chapter continues to highlight and reiterate the recurrent themes that have permeated this book so far: risk, global governance, security and the ‘other’ war on terror. Once again in using the term ‘global governance’, we are not necessarily claiming that ‘universal’ participation or formal agreement exists. Instead, as we have laid out in Chapter 2, we take a broad and looser understanding of the term. Sometimes it is simply like-minded actors getting together to confront collective shared problems. Other times, it can also involve a wide variety of private sector actors. In our previous cases of the FATF and PSI, although these were relatively ‘informal’ versions of global governance that attempted to be as inclusive as possible in Beck’s ‘cosmopolitan’ sense, these were still largely dominated and driven by ‘cosmopolitan realist’ state actors as they attempted to develop responses to new global risks. Indeed, one of the problems we encountered so far was the unresolved tension between on one hand, serving narrow ‘realist’ interests based on power and on the other, fulfilling a broader ‘cosmopolitan’ global agenda. Thus, in this final case study we chose to address closely the role of non-state actors, particularly global trade bodies, at the other end of the broad global governance spectrum and how they in turn have developed alternative responses to common aviation security risks after 9/11. With regards to the war on terror, as we have suggested earlier, the two overarching strategic goals of US counter-terrorism policy are: global standardssetting and capacity-building/cooperation with state and non-state partners. Here with aviation security, as before, we move to examine to what degree these twin

aims can be reconciled through ideas of global governance and those of Beck on ‘risk-cosmopolitanism’ and ‘institutionalised cosmopolitanism’. In the words of Mark Salter:

unfortunately, contemporary security analysis of aviation takes place within a realist, empiricist frame that simply reinforces the state-centric assumptions of power politics. It ignores the networked nature of threats and the complex web of state and non-state security actors that actually provide security.2