Jacob's Opinion


Aid Aint Free: Britain's New Securitization of Aid

Posted by Jacob Jacob on August 29, 2010 at 12:59 PM


Talking about leaked documents, I came across this interesting article in today's Guardian Newspaper. A leaked document from the Department for International Development (DfID) lays out plans by the British Government to create a more intimate link between aid and security. The opposition Labour party has protested against what it sees as a new securitization of aid. Basically, the National Security Council will now control how parts of the Oversees Development Assistance budget is spent. Previously the DfID handled British overseas aid and targeted developing country's specific needs when disbursing aid.


I wonder what has now become of the international and public humanitarianism that saw the emergence of the concept of human security and the progressive values of the 1990s. Doubtless, while the concept of human security on its own represents the merging of development and security, today, the balance has overwhelmingly tipped against development in favour of homeland security. One of my lecturers then in the Department of Politics & International Relations at Lancaster University, Professor Mark Duffield has written and spoken extensively on the merging of development and security. His book, 'Global Governance and the New Wars: The merging of Development and Security' makes a compelling reading. Though written in 2001, the book talks about an increasing radicalisation of the politics of development. Reading it now, it looks eerily prophetic.


Essentially, for the British government, strategically important areas of instability will be the focus of development interventions in order to stem terrorist recruitment, protect livelihoods and promote opportunities for personal development of vulnerable groups there. In the Cameron years, we should expect greater development aid to countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia etc from the British government. Aid agencies and other critics would rightly see this as a death knell for international financial support for sustainable people-centred development particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa.


Conceptually, debates on the subject and object of security will need to do a U-turn (again), this time from Human Security and all the non-state assemblages that supported it back to State Security with a more radicalised control by the Defence and Foreign Ministries of states in the global north.


Beyond all the rhetorics, it shows that the global war on terror, though renamed, has now moved on to a totally different turf. American and British tanks may be on their way out of Iraq, but it is only the combat element of the war that is going along with it. A multidimensional battle space is opening up with increasing emphasis on issues of information, governance, livelihoods, poverty and want in strategically important fragile states. Interventions would almost certainly include commitments to transforming conflict societies as a whole - including attitudes and beliefs of populations. Development resources of British and indeed other Western Governments will increasingly go into targeting specific groups in 'important states' to change, not only their livelihoods but also their beliefs and attitudes in order to achieve stabilisation. Information intervention efforts would seek to 'discipline' or 'tame' populations in such states to be productive members of their own societies.


Aid agencies, Christian Aid for instance, has already spoken of a new cold war with 'terrorism' as the new bogey for 'communism'. They may have a point somewhere. 29.08.2010

Categories: Humanitarianism, Conflicts

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