Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Bloomsbury Humanitarian Debate

Last Monday I took part in the Bloomsbury Humanitarian Debate, a forum organised by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Birkbeck and MSF. The theme was the securitisation of aid, a subject that is of increasing analytical and political significance in light of current issues of migration across the Mediterranean (and the resourcing of responses), contexts of development and security in areas in which donors have played military roles (particularly Afghanistan) and the existence of IS, which presents development policy makers and practitioners with challenges that disrupt conventional understandings of the state, responsibility, needs and assistance.

The panel was drawn together from academic/research institutions, aid organisations and the military and, as the debate was hosted by the LSHTM, there was a strong theme of public health provision. There was broad agreement across the panel that security has been defined by the global north and that, as a result, the forms of security that are promoted through development tend to reflect powerful northern interests. There was less agreement in terms of the operational solutions to this exercise of power: at times it seemed that the usual distinction between pragmatism and principle had been re-cast as humanitarian principles allow a certain pragmatic distance from political pressure. At other times, the weight of opinion was behind the possibility of working within a diverse array of donor imperatives that allowed for effective aid to be given in particular circumstances.

The debate was drawn together around three questions: Understanding security; responding to security needs; and Security and humanitarian actions.

Full details of the debate can be found here:

As ever it was great to catch up with a couple of VCD alumni who came along and hear about what they have been doing since completing the course! :)  

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