Table 1

An overview of the national security strategies of selected G-20 countries

CountryPolicy document reviewedMajor emphasisHealth security threats identified? Yes/no
USANational Security Strategy (2017)40‘Principled realism that is guided by outcomes not ideology’ with ‘interstate strategic competition’ as the ‘primary concern in national security’.Yes, biothreats (such as anthrax) and pandemics (such as Ebola and SARS)—but accorded weak priority
IndiaMinistry of Defense–Annual Report (2019)41Geostrategic concerns and military forces.No
White Paper
Rapid economic growth; technological advancements with respect to weapons systems; and the shifting international geostrategic landscape, particularly in relation to the USA.No
JapanSecurity and defence policy (2020)18Regional security and geostrategic concerns.No, but COVID-19’s effects on military operations and strategic competition are emphasised
RussiaNational Security Strategy (2017)43The security policy is officially 'multidimensional.' However, in practice it is overwhelmingly focused on the military and 'hard power tools'.Yes, explicit connection between pandemics, health and national security
South AfricaDOD report (2019)44State sovereignty; territorial integrity; national and economic development; and regional stability in the African continent.Yes, infectious diseases
IndonesiaDefence White Paper (2015)45Military-centric with a focus on internal control and consolidation of the nation state.Yes, infectious diseases
CanadaNational Security Policy (2020)46Protection of Canadians at home and abroad; international security and protection of allies. Emphasizes protection from terrorism and cyber security threats.Yes, mentions the globalised threat of infectious disease but no action plan. The most recent defence strategy of Canada does not mention pandemics or other non-traditional threats.47
AustraliaStrong and Secure: A Strategy for Australia’s National Security (2013)48Countering terrorism, espionage and foreign interference; preserving Australia’s border integrity; and promoting a secure international environment conducive to advancing Australia’s interest.Yes, pandemics and biothreats
UKNational Security Capability Review (2018)49Strengthening defence and armed forces; countering terrorism; cyber security and fighting organised crime. Upholding rules-based international order is also emphasised.Yes, diseases and natural hazards. However, in a recent ‘Integrated Review’ of UK’s foreign policy, defence, security and International Development, global health security remains absent.50
FranceWhite Paper Defence and National Security (2013)51Protecting the sovereignty of the country with key priority areas as protection from terrorism, organised crime and cyberattack while securing critical infrastructure with an overarching focus on military and defence industry.Yes; pandemics, WMD and natural disasters
ItalyWhite Paper (2020)52Defence of the state, the Euro-Atlantic and Euro-Mediterranean area, and the development of peace and international security.No
European UnionEuropean Security Strategy (2009)53Weapons of mass destruction (WMD), terrorism, cyber security, energy security, climate change.No
  • DOD, Department of Defense.