Abstract (The Anti-Pandemic Security Force in the face of Covid-19 in Togo)

Assindah Magnetine§

Summary : The years 2020-2021 have been and continue to be marked by a surprising health crisis, the causes of which are officially unknown throughout the world. Scientifically dubbed coronavirus by some and Covid-19 by others, the pandemic threatening the world led most political leaders to declare that their countries were at war with an invisible enemy. Since then, the world's political actors have been constantly spinning rhetoric, or rather military metaphors, to justify the urgent measures they are taking to curb this health crisis. The aim of this article is to provide an understanding of the meaning of the notion of health warfare, the military management of the pandemic, the scope of intervention of the armed and security forces mobilized in the context of the health crisis in Togo, and civilians' perception of this security mission. The qualitative approach we used highlighted the use of the term "health war" as a rhetorical device designed to incite the social body to take unified action, thus prohibiting democratic treatment of the issues that divided it during the crisis. The emanation is the invitation to concentrate efforts on the common enemy who wants to destroy the usual ways of living. The research concluded that, while the mobilization of the armed forces was salutary in ensuring compliance with the barrier measures decreed as part of the state of emergency, and in providing disaster relief, there were numerous human rights violations observed by the civilian population, the perpetrators of which were elements of the FOSAP.

Keywords: Health crisis, Covid-19, Health war, FOSAP- Civilian population.

Abstract: The years 2020-2021 have marked and continue to mark the spirits by the surprising health crisis of which the whole world is officially unaware of the causes. Scientifically referred to as coronavirus by some and Covid-19 by others, the pandemic threatening the world has led most political leaders to declare their country at war with an invisible enemy. Since then, political actors around the world have continued to use rhetoric or better still the military metaphor to justify the urgent measures they are taking to stem this health crisis. The objective of this article is to provide an understanding of the meaning of the concept of health warfare, the military management of the pandemic, the fields of intervention of the armed and security forces mobilized in the context of the health crisis in Togo and the perception of civilians of this security mission. The qualitative approach used made it possible to highlight the use of the expression health warfare as a rhetoric intended to incite the social body to uniqueness of action, thus prohibiting the democratic treatment of what divides it during the crisis period. The emanation invites him to concentrate efforts on the common enemy who wants to destroy the usual ways of living. The research came to the conclusions that while the mobilization of the armed forces was beneficial in enforcing the barrier measures enacted within the framework of the declared state of emergency and, in providing disaster relief, there were numerous violations of human rights observed by the civilian population whose authors are elements of FOSAP.

Keywords: Health crisis, Covid-19, Health War, FOSAP, Civilian Population.


Since December 2019, the whole world has been experiencing the biggest health crisis of the last three generations. At the root of this health crisis is a pathogenic and contagious agent called Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-Cov-2), Covid-19 or Coronavirus according to the scientific community. In institutional and political circles, the term "health war" is used to describe the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, which has caught all the world's states off guard. According to (Kacou and Iroco 361):

In December 2019, Li Wenliang, a young Chinese doctor, sounded the alarm about the appearance in China of a virus, which would later be commonly referred to as "coronavirus" and covid-19 by the scientific community. The Chinese authorities, outraged by his action, arrested him for "spreading rumors". He himself died of the coronavirus on February 7, 2020. The virus quickly spread throughout China, particularly to Wuhan, where the entire population was quarantined. Some countries, aware of the disease, provided China with health support, while others - the most numerous - showed indifference by setting off fireworks, and still others closed off their territories to travellers from China for fear of being contaminated. But as a result of trade and demographic shifts, both sides will be hard hit by the virus.

From then on, the virus invaded every continent, with thousands of deaths. By the first quarter of 2020, 2,235,934 people had already been infected with the virus in the United States, resulting in 20,250 deaths. Brazil counted 984,315 infected with 7,897 deaths, Russia 569,063 covid-19 patients with 841 deaths, the UK 301,815 infected with 42,461 deaths, while China, the cradle of the coronavirus, had 83,325 sufferers and 4,634 deaths (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control 9). In Togo, the government website (covid-19.gouv.tg) reported 20178 cases of covid-19 infection and 195 deaths in 2020.

On March 16, 2020, faced with the seriousness of the disease, the President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, addressed his people as a true warlord in the following terms: "We are at war, certainly in a health war. We are not fighting an army or another nation, but the enemy is there, invisible, elusive and advancing. And that requires our general mobilization". As President Macron repeated several times during his visit to Mulhouse: "France is at war against the coronavirus, and if it is indeed the healthcare personnel who are on the front line, the army can also help" (Bissiriou 2).

In the United States, Donald Trump, who had initially downplayed the epidemic, has adopted an increasingly martial tone in his press briefings, presenting himself as a President "in wartime facing an invisible enemy" (AFP March 19, 2020).

 Since then, observers and politicians the world over have been spinning the military metaphor: " health war", "health war council", "battle", "front", "curfew", "trenches", "state of emergency", "sealing off cities", "closing borders", "general mobilization", "struggle", "enemy", "front line". For these actors, the coronavirus presented itself as the enemy of nations, claiming thousands of victims, sabotaging finances and straining human relations. Clearly, Covid-19 is a threat to national security (Milion), requiring the use of warlike measures.

This is why, in Spain, where the pandemic has taken on alarming proportions, 2,622 military personnel have been deployed in 59 cities to ensure compliance with containment measures, to help relieve congestion in health facilities and to carry out disinfection operations in retirement homes, courts, hospitals, train stations, ports and airports (Morel).

France, for its part, launched a military operation called Résilience, during which its air, land and naval forces supported the full range of civil society responses to the pandemic, whether in mainland France or elsewhere, in overseas territories and departments, the West Indies and the Pacific (Ministry of the Armed Forces, 2020). Germany deploys 15,000 soldiers to protect critical infrastructures, distribute medical supplies and set up hospitals (Schmidt; Braw). The U.S. deploys the National Guard to California, New York and Washington in support of anti-covid supply logistics, and sends two hospital ships to New York and Los Angeles to relieve pressure on local hospitals (The Economist; Paris).

In China, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) was given the task of coordinating interventions throughout the country and mobilizing its resources to control quarantines, administer hospitals and transport supplies to Wuhan, the city that saw the first case of the new Coronavirus. Outside China, from Australia to India, across Asia, political authorities called on their armies to slow the spread of the coronavirus, as a second wave of contaminations was recorded in regions that thought the epidemic was under control. The interventions of the Italian, Spanish, French, German and American armed forces are a good illustration of the tasks shared with the civilian sector that the military are entrusted with as part of national responses to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In Togo, as elsewhere in Africa, the appearance of the coronavirus has sounded the death knell for a raft of preventive measures against a possible explosion in contamination, as seen in countries "importing" this virus. The measures taken are economic, social, political and security-related. They have been taken one after the other to prevent the country from experiencing the health catastrophe predicted by Western countries for an impoverished, ill-equipped and poorly organized Africa (WHO). An anti-pandemic security force (FOSAP), the first since independence, was set up. Comprising 5,000 agents (Ministry of Security) from various defense and security forces, the main mission of the anti-pandemic coronavirus security force is to ensure compliance with all measures taken under the state of health emergency introduced throughout the country by the political authorities.

In view of this general mobilization, can we consider that the whole world is in the grip of a war? Can the coronavirus pandemic be likened to a health attack? How is the coronavirus pandemic being managed militarily? What perceptions does the civilian population have of the pandemic and its military management? This study seeks to provide answers to all these questions.

The general aim of this study is, firstly, to shed light on the use of the concept of health warfare by political decision-makers to mobilize populations in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. Secondly, it sets out to explain the military management of the pandemic, as well as the fields of intervention of the defense and security forces. Finally, the study seeks to relay civilians' perceptions of the military management of Covid-19 and the lessons to be learned for improving social relations between the armed forces and the civilian population.

1. Theoretical support

For heuristic purposes, the analysis in the present study is essentially based on the rhetorical theory of major crises (Reboul; Gosselin) and the theory of exceptional circumstances (Foulquier; Robert). According to Reboul, rhetoric is a discourse that aims to influence the behavior and beliefs of individuals, using both rational and non-rational arguments, both logical and non-logical. Referring to these authors and their theory, the health crisis has led to decisions being taken on all fronts: political, economic, security, cultural, religious and social.

The decrees, declarations, appeals and other resolutions issued as part of the state of health emergency all allude to extremely serious situations, requiring not only collective awareness but also a prompt and effective response. This is why all the texts adopted and implemented in the context of this health crisis begin with a series of observations, some of them true, others utopian, all of them justifying the decisions taken, at least in form, by extreme considerations. Rhetorical crisis theory rightly helps us to understand the motives behind the use of rhetoric as a political communication strategy by most governments during the coronavirus pandemic.

As for the theory of exceptional circumstances, it postulates that in certain conditions, of very serious political or social urgency, the executive power can free itself from full and meticulous respect for the law, in order to preserve public services and the interests of the Nation (Foulquier). Put another way, exceptional circumstances are both a condition and an excuse for applying a regime of exceptional legality to administrative acts. Thus, administrative acts that are normally illegal become legal because of exceptional circumstances. This theory makes it possible to understand the scope of administrative acts taken by political authorities in the context of a state of health emergency.

2. Methodological considerations

The methodological approach adopted for this study is triangular, combining documentary research, individual semi-directive interviews and direct observation. The documentary research involved consulting specialized books and articles, research findings in the field of health crises, citizen participation and military mobilization, and articles on the communication strategies of political actors in a crisis situation.

 The documentation consisted of consulting official publications by political, public and scientific leaders, the press, comments by human rights organizations and those of citizens on the web using certain WhatsApp platforms in particular.

This documentary inventory is supported by an empirical investigation using both direct observation and individual interviews. While observation highlighted the interactions between military and civilian personnel (Lofland; Friedrich), (Ludtke), (Peretz) during patrols, curfews, city closures and land border closures, interviews brought out the perceptions of resource persons.

Interviews, using an interview guide, were conducted with 45 people (5 members of the health response coordination, 25 elements of the FOSAP (including 2 members of the command, 8 unit leaders, 15 executors i.e. soldiers, gendarmes and police officers). In addition to these target groups, the survey also interviewed a resource person from 5 different media outlets, 5 human rights associations and 5 actors from society in general. The interview protocol took into account the themes of health warfare, the state of emergency, military management of the pandemic, the scope of intervention of the defense and security forces in the health crisis, and civilian actors' perceptions of FOSAP's mission.

All respondents were selected on the basis of the non-probabilistic method (Fortin et al.) by reasoned choice, taking into account those people willing to shed light on the social fact under study. The manual processing of the data obtained consisted of a qualitative content analysis (Mucchielli; Bardin) of the interviewees' comments, and a cross-referencing of the various items of information obtained, in order to understand and account for the social fact under study in its entirety. The trends emerging from the qualitative data collected are summarized in the verbatim results below.

3. Results

3.1 Sociological understanding of war and health warfare

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in China in 2019, the world's researchers, politicians and journalists, in their analyses and statements on the global health crisis, have seen nothing but a war against humanity. The most alarmist speeches evoke the thesis of a "biological weapon" mentioned a few years ago by researchers such as Taguieff (21-30) and Bellote. The frequent use of military rhetoric during the health crisis, and the martial or warlike speeches made by political leaders during their media appearances, are reminiscent of a warning to humanity, threatened by an invisible enemy capable of striking everywhere on the continents without ever encountering resistance. It is even described as "the universal enemy of humanity" (Machrouh 3). These statements sound an alarm, the time for a general awakening. According to some military historians, the number of victims caused by the coronavirus pandemic is not far off that of the First World War. As Momokana puts it: "The first and second world wars were military. The3rd is sanitary [1]". And according to AFP's count as of October 10, 2021, out of a total of 200 million infections linked to the coronavirus, the pandemic has caused the death of 4.5 million people worldwide. As the World Health Organization (WHO) has not yet declared the coronavirus pandemic defeated, this death toll is far from definitive.

Indeed, since the early 1990s, several major health crises have left their mark on people's minds, and are considered by political scientists to be threats to national security. These include HIV (AIDS), EBOLA (FHVE) and H5H1, to name but a few. Unlike the plague or the Spanish flu at the beginning of the last century, these crises are characterized by a combination of three elements: a highly uncertain origin at the outset, an unprecedented media impact and a complete destabilization of institutional health management systems.

In the USA, the 2006 National Security Strategy (NSS), after secret and meticulous research, came to the conclusion that pandemics such as HIV (AIDS) and H5N1 (avian flu) do not recognize borders and must be addressed with new strategies(ITES 8). This is why the coronavirus pandemic is considered by informed observers to be "a weaponized virus" (Cantwel). To convince ourselves of this, it is important to clarify the notion of war, justify its use in this health crisis by political leaders and understand the rest of our argument.

(Bouthoul and Freund) define war as "a collective and coercive implementation of hostility, through the regulated use of armed force, resulting in sustained fighting that harms people and property, and therefore causes casualties". In this definition, the significant elements are: hostility, coercion, armed forces, combat, victims. War then refers to armed conflict, i.e. conflict fought with weapons - any object designed, by nature or purpose, to kill, injure or destroy, or to threaten to kill, injure or destroy. As Clausewitz (703) so aptly put it, war has "its own grammar".

So, when we speak of "economic war", for example, to describe industrial and commercial competition, or "cultural war", to describe the relationship between English and French, when there is no violent death inflicted on the opposing people, nor any violent destruction inflicted on their property, this is just rhetoric. The coronavirus war or health war is similar to the economic war, the cultural war, the war of nerves or the information war (F-B Huyghe).

On this aspect, (Kacou and Irigo 363) are more explicit. For these researchers :

The coronavirus has unavoidably and unambiguously led to a reconsideration of the meaning of war. War is no longer just an armed struggle between states, a means of conflict resolution, but an imbalance that affects social institutions, without necessarily leading to a prior declaration of war. It also induces a paradigm shift in Gaston Bouthoul's explanation of polemology, the science of war, or the study of its forms, causes, effects and functions. We can, however, mobilize the army to fight an enemy in the model imposed by Covid-19, without needing weapons. We can use terms from the field of military semantics and strategies (state of emergency, curfew).

 The notion of health war refers to this exceptional situation, during which the competent authorities take emergency measures to combat an epidemic (enemy) that threatens the public health of the population (Bissiriou 3). It is played out on many fronts: States of emergency, defense councils, political declarations, action plans, containment strategies, city closures, border closures, curfews, but also sophisticated health weapons to win the battle against the virus, such as surgical masks, respirators, vaccines, hydroxychloroquines, vitamin D, azithromycins, hydroalcoholic gels, screening kits, soapy water, social distancing, hand washing, etc.

 But the war against the coronavirus goes beyond the health sector. Fundamentally anomic, it is putting the foundations of the social order in most societies to the test (Strauss-Kahn). Indeed, (Brustlein) believes that the discourse of war hammered home by political decision-makers is a rhetoric that calls for the unity of the social body, prohibiting the democratic treatment of what divides society. Through rhetorical yet warlike discourse, leaders and institutional actors seek to convince the citizens they lead, to focus their efforts on the common enemy who wants to destroy our ways of life. Two French scientists (Lagrost and Payen 9) rightly called for a general mobilization, proposing :

A great national and participative impetus through which each and every one, side by side and in union, would have the full sensation of participating in the fight and in the effectiveness of the response mechanism. The time will come, a posteriori, to assess whether or not this participative approach will have significantly increased our chances of emerging from the Covid-19 crisis, and reduced the heavy human toll that promises to be high. It seems to us that this unprecedented challenge deserves to be taken up.

It's worth recalling that the war against the coronavirus pandemic worldwide has given rise to several types of intervention/action. Firstly, governments coordinated the fight, issuing directives, showing the way in the face of numerous deaths and cascading contamination, and reassuring the tetanized population. Secondly, scientists, the medical profession and civilians, in the vanguard of the health battle for biomedical research and patient care. Finally, the defense and security forces, for security reasons, but also because of their ability to bring relief to the civilian world in the event of a disaster. The need for security tends to normalize the generalization of restrictions on individual freedoms, through the imposition of more or less voluntary confinement measures, depending on the country. This corresponds to the establishment of a state of security emergency, which justifies counter-measures and police violence against violations of confinement measures and barrier gestures in a context of scarcity of resources. (Fasin & al). The military management of the coronavirus pandemic in Togo falls within this framework. It is a subsidiary mission and cannot usually be carried out to the detriment of the main missions of the Togolese armed forces, which include securing land, sea and air borders against external invaders, and protecting the civilian population and their property against criminals and highwaymen.

3.2. Military management of the health crisis

As an astute observer, Jacques Chirac, quoted by (Hessou 121), defined military forces as "a specialized body for protection and defense, which evolves in line with the missions entrusted to it by the Nation, adapting to the demands of security, the ambitions of its people and the constraints of its environment". An analysis of the terms of this definition reveals that the original missions assigned to the defense and security forces, and enshrined in fundamental laws, are neither static nor fixed, but can evolve in response to exceptional circumstances. This is why (Bonnaud 58) believes that armed forces must adapt to all threatening circumstances in a world beset by asymmetrical conflicts.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the nations of the world have been quick to entrust the armed forces with exceptional missions, depending on the level of organization of each country's security apparatus in such circumstances. In developed countries, for example, the defense and security forces are involved in scientific research to find cures for the pandemic, building hospitals and transporting the sick to safe areas, while at the same time protecting territories against potential invaders, and research centers and laboratories against espionage. In the age of industrial and commercial warfare, it is the armed forces that are most used to prevent the leakage of information and scientific discoveries. This is not the case in Africa, where armed forces are still in their infancy in Algeria, Morocco, Egypt and South Africa. Thus, to combat the coronavirus in Africa, many states have limited themselves to adopting measures restricting the movement of people, limiting freedom of movement, the right of assembly and banning large-scale gatherings.

In Togo, FOSAP's management of the coronavirus pandemic focused on a single front: enforcing compliance with the barrier measures decreed by the political authorities as part of the state of health emergency. These measures include banning inter-regional travel, forcing populations to observe curfews and enforcing compliance with standard barrier measures. The military force's areas of intervention include densely populated areas, such as markets, thoroughfares, major crossroads, bus stations, airports, ports, schools, land borders and key security sites. All components of the security system were involved, including the national armed forces, armed forces health services, police, gendarmerie, border guards and local security actors. As one FOSAP unit leader in Lomé put it:

Our mission is to make operational the measures taken by the country's authorities as part of the fight against the coronavirus. Implementing these measures requires discipline and rigor, if we are to preserve the health and well-being of the population. The mission also extended to places where patients are cared for, to the streets where contamination takes place, and to quarantine areas. The situation is such that the chains of contamination must be stopped very quickly, and this is done in public places (bars, restaurants, funerals, weddings, churches and other such places). The urgent mobilization of equipment, the provision of medical staff and the monitoring of quarantine sites are all tasks assigned to FOSAP agents. (Source: field survey).

But FOSAP's health war was not without resistance from the civilian population. Disinformation made it difficult to apply preventive measures against widespread coronavirus contamination. We witnessed curfew violations, the refusal to wear masks, stubborn demonstrations and gatherings. The patrols, border surveillance and systematic monitoring of compliance with barrier measures by elements of the military force involved have led to clashes with civilians who do not understand the health implications of the measures taken. A FOSAP officer in the central region explains:

 In most cases, FOSAP's role has been to take part in preventive activities. It was deployed to quarantine communities, to prevent the entry and exit of individuals in infected communities, or to restrict traffic at the borders of countries in the region. We had to deal with people's insults and contempt, and the amazing thing is that it was for the good of us all. (Interview in the field).

The battle against the coronavirus has seen the active involvement of Togo's defense and security forces.[2]under the name of FOSAP. They were tasked with enforcing quarantines, curfews and managing several checkpoints, in order to curb or even prohibit the free movement of people in the hope of stemming the spread of the disease. In some cases, the use of"exaggerated" force to disperse crowds and enforce curfews emanating from a public order, an overreaction attributable to the fact that they were neither sufficiently trained nor accustomed to crises of this magnitude, fuelled criticism. Tragic clashes and logical interactions with FOSAP elements took place in neighborhoods, towns and regions, day and night. Popular protests against restrictive measures (cordoning off towns), restrictions on public transport, and the organization of political and traditional demonstrations led to clashes with law enforcement and security forces.

3.3. Civilian perceptions of the coronavirus pandemic and military pandemic management

In the context of African societies, different points of view contribute to the mixed perceptions of populations on the issue of the coronavirus pandemic. Analysis of the survey results enabled us to establish causal links between the conspiracy theory and the behavior of the civilian population, on the one hand, and the efforts of the anti-Covid-19 security force to protect the people, on the other.

From press releases on military abuses issued by rights defenders, to counter-communications from governments, to the publication of videos on social networks and in the media, people are faced with fear, doubt and embarrassment. As a result, many feel that the military forces are overreacting to a virus that is not as tangible as they would have us believe. Referring to the analysis made by an anthropologist member of the civil society interviewed, he estimates that :

The aim of all these skilfully nurtured psychoses is to challenge the established social order, and in this context of health warfare, to get people to choose their own voice against the pandemic. If people don't believe in the existence of the virus, or at least in its declared dangerousness, they develop reluctance, even resistance, to the military force responsible for enforcing the measures adopted to limit the spread of the virus (Source: field survey).

In a society dominated by street news and with very few official media outlets, the way in which people are informed about the issue plays a very important role. Street news engines and motorcycle cab drivers peddle and disseminate all kinds of information gleaned here and there, confusing the general perception of the disease.

 We recall that, in the wake of the pandemic, fake news about the coronavirus proliferated everywhere, to such an extent that in April 2020 the WHO popularized the concept of " infodemia ", to designate the emergence of an epidemic of false information. A member of the Covid-19 response coordination team, whom we approached, deplores that "there are a lot of preconceived ideas and misunderstandings about Covid-19, to such an extent that the Togolese population can no longer sort things out." (Source: personal interview). He goes on to say: "In the field, many people don't even believe in Covid-19. And it's the rumors circulating on the internet and social networks that are at the root of this. People don't check what they read".

In this sense, the difficulties in curbing the crisis with the support of the population through compliance with the measures taken are linked to people's perception of the pandemic and the link made with the political reality. The defense and security forces are being called upon to help bring about a convergence of measures.

3.4. Lessons learned from FOSAP's management of the coronavirus pandemic

In the context of the health war, it is essential to point out the weaknesses in the security measures put in place to win the battle against the coronavirus pandemic. Indeed, enforcing the various coercive measures and exceptional measures while respecting human rights and the rule of law, as well as the principle of proportionality in the use of force, were major challenges for the defense and security apparatus deployed.

As soon as the various provisions came into force, accusations against the forces of law and order multiplied, relayed by the press, human rights activists and amplified by social networks. The media have reported on blunders committed by the defense and security forces in several parts of the country. These included the point-blank shooting of a young motorcycle washer in the Avedji district of Lomé by an FOSAP officer for refusing to obey his orders (LTDH), and the murder of a boy in Adakpamé (a suburb of Lomé) for violating the curfew (CNDH), the violent dispersal on September 26, 2020 of a traditional ceremony in the town of Niamtougou in the north of the country, resulting in (1) death, seventeen (17) wounded, including thirteen (13) police officers and four (4) demonstrators, as well as police vehicles and a burnt house (Ministry of Security and Civil Protection, 2020[3]), not to mention the beatings and inhumane treatment inflicted on latecomers caught out by curfews. All these human rights violations prompted the civilian population, on April 23, 2020, to take to the streets to demonstrate their fed-up with the military management of Covid-19. As one civil society activist lamented on his Facebook page: "What is this propensity of the military to use firearms on civilians. Has the profession of arms become a license to kill with impunity? Bunch of cowards! Are these guys who murder indiscriminately also our Togolese brothers recruited into the army ?

 The satirical newspaper Sika'a[4] simply believes that "Togo's military and police are the people's greatest enemies".

Source: Donisen Donald, in Liberté n° 3135, 2020

The unpreparedness of law enforcement agencies, especially the military component, for the maintenance of order (M.O.) which is so essential in the context of the implementation of the state of emergency decisions, has been noted. To make up for this weakness, we need to journal, clearly and strictly delineate the respective responsibilities of the different categories of forces deployed, mobilize the military as a control force, and possibly call on the intelligence services to gather a certain amount of information about sick people in communities that refuse to declare them. All these observations on the military's management of the coronavirus pandemic are indicators that the politico-military authorities need to take up the challenge of rebuilding the defense and security system to ensure consensual protection of civilians.

4. Discussion

This research has examined journal the political communications of governments since the publication of Covid-19, communications which insist on a health attack on the countries of the world and the need for warlike measures to deal with it. An analysis of the various communications reveals that the concept of war or health war, which recurs in government speeches, is a rhetorical device designed to influence the behavior of populations by calling on them to unite, and to justify the urgent measures they are taking to curb the danger. According to (Reboul; Gosselin), rhetorical discourse is a political art that aims to influence people's beliefs, using both rational and non-rational arguments, both logical and non-logical. Hence the decrees, declarations, appeals and other resolutions within the framework of the state of health emergency, which all allude to situations of extreme gravity, requiring not only collective awareness but also a prompt and effective response. And, indeed, this is the reason behind the suspension of constitutionally established laws and texts.

In an exceptional situation, such as a health crisis, (Foulquier) admits that the executive power can dispense with full and meticulous respect for the law in order to preserve public services and the interests of the Nation. Thus, the fight against the coronavirus is an exceptional circumstance which has led to the quarantine of populations, the cordoning-off of towns, curfews, the obligation of a health pass, the banning of public demonstrations, the closure of schools and places of worship, etc. The blunders, human rights violations and compulsory vaccination of the entire population are exceptional measures that cannot be forgiven in normal times, but are excusable during a state of emergency.


The global coronavirus crisis that emerged in December 2019, in Yuhan, China, has damaged the lives of communities and the functioning of institutions. The implementation of response mechanisms against the coronavirus pandemic, far from being a perfect response to the threats posed by this virus, is only a palliative, given the number of victims worldwide. The mobilization of resources was therefore a response to the need to protect populations, and also to guarantee the functioning of the economic apparatus. 

The commitment of the defense and security forces to this health war, while a response to this need, has left its after-effects and lessons for the future. Indeed, the advent of the coronavirus pandemic enabled each country to assess its capacity to survive in the face of the unprecedented. Hence the need for in-depth reform of all institutions, especially the defense and security establishment. It seems particularly important that the imperative of working towards more democratic governance of security systems should not be relegated to the background. Many cooperation programs must also be redirected towards support for healthcare systems, a belated and reactive response to calls made long before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, it will be important not to lose sight of the fact that long-term efforts to reform security systems require initiatives to ensure their sustainability.

All too often, shifting priorities have been one of the factors behind the slow progress made in this area. In recent years, the processes underway have frequently been diverted from their initial objectives - particularly in terms of democratic governance, respect for the rule of law and the promotion of human rights - by new priorities that have ended up dominating the reform agenda (counter-terrorism, the prevention of violent extremism and the fight against illegal migration in particular).

Of course, it will be necessary to take into account the consequences and lessons learned from the management of the coronavirus pandemic by the defense and security system, which is currently undergoing a complete overhaul. We need to reinforce the operationality and democratic governance of the system, whose crucial role in the country's future is once again demonstrated by this pandemic, over and above the response to security-related crises. This experience suggests the development of trust-based relations with populations and communities, whose cooperation and receptiveness will be essential to guarantee the effectiveness of the measures enacted in the context of the state of emergency.

Finally, the Covid-19 pandemic crisis calls more than ever for consideration of the "human security" approach, conceptualized by the United Nations Development Program as early as 1994, which calls for security to be considered not just from a military angle, but also in its social, political, food, environmental, community and health dimensions, as well as in its global and transnational, not just national, dimension. 

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How to cite this article:

MLA: Magnetine, Assindah. "La Force de Sécurite Anti-Pandémique à l'épreuve de la Covid-19 au Togo". Uirtus 1.2 (December 2021): 27-47.

§ University of Kara / [email protected]

[1] (http://www.sinotables.com ' 2020/03/30 ).

[2] An officer of the Togolese armed forces, Colonel Djibril Mohamed, is in charge of national coordination of the Covid-19 response in Togo.

[3] The communiqué from the Ministry of Security and Civil Protection states that the Prefect of Doufelgou, in order to encourage the population to celebrate in compliance with anti-covid-19 measures, convened a working session between the organizers of this ceremony and the prefecture. But the people of Niamtougou refused to comply with the measures taken at the meeting. They set up barricades to prevent the police from intervening, and carried on with their festivities as if nothing had happened.

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