A growing proportion of aid spending now goes into conflict-affected states and conflict prevention. As a result, development and security are increasingly intertwined and this inter-relation is hotly debated. The key question however is not whether development and security should be linked, but rather how and for whose benefit.
- Developmentalist critiques of the ‘securitisation of aid’ are falling behind the curve of rapid shifts in political and security contexts within fragile and conflict-affected areas.
- Development actors must be at the forefront, not the sidelines, of debates on when and how to link development to security, for whose benefit and with what consequences.
- Currently the need to understand the dynamics and effects of development-security integration at the local level is often overlooked.
- Development and security actors from OECD countries need to find ways to respond effectively to local security dynamics, even though their influence in these settings may be waning.
- With the right external support, local development partners can fulfil roles such as facilitating negotiations, trust-building and supporting conditions for dialogue.
- Committing to local partnerships and redirecting resources to strengthen these is risky but essential to build and sustain innovative responses to complex challenges in conflict-affected areas.
If development-security initiatives are to succeed, they need to support locally brokered agreements and the spaces in which such agreements can be reassessed. This will require a redirection of resources to local partners. Aid agencies also need to work very differently in these settings, but find it increasingly difficult to do so due to capacity constraints. The report suggests four key changes that agencies must make to meet the challenges ahead:
- Aid agencies must commit more staff to the field in recognition of the localised nature of the issues – move more staff out of capital cities and into regional centres.
- Agencies must recruit staff with complementary skills in security, diplomacy, brokering and negotiation.
- Agencies must take more calculated risks and pool risk with other actors. This would minimise potential political consequences at home but should not weaken accountability to aid recipient populations.
- Agencies should resist rotating staff, since lack of thorough knowledge of fragile areas is a major impediment to redefining development so that it improves the security of the poor.