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Understanding how the identity of international aid agencies and their approaches to security are mutually shaped

Renouf, Jean S. (2011) Understanding how the identity of international aid agencies and their approaches to security are mutually shaped. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The objective of the thesis is to study, through a critical constructivist analysis, the conception and practice of security by humanitarian international aid agencies (IAAs), with particular reference to their relation with private military and security companies (PMSCs). The research provides a qualitative analysis of humanitarian security, which is defined as the practice of safely accessing vulnerable populations for humanitarian purposes. Its methodology relies on semi-structured interviews, including in Afghanistan and Haiti; participant observation; and a literature review. The thesis‘ critical constructivist approach implies studying the co-constitution of aid organizations‘ identity and interests. It argues that IAAs‘ identity and approaches to security are mutually shaped. It does so by first highlighting dominant discourses framing aid agencies‘ identity and processes by which particular views are reproduced. It then identifies the dominant representations in security management and reveals how they relate to IAAs‘ identity. The thesis defines three ideal–types of IAAs (Deontological, Solidarist and Utilitarian) and of PMSCs (Guarding, Unarmed, and Weaponised). This typology allows a dissecting of IAAs‘ different conceptions and practices of security, and the conditions under which each type of IAA employs PMSCs. The research reveals that an aid agency‘s identity forms the basis of its approach to security. Identity and security, are however, not stable but dynamic and in a constant process of interaction with each other. The thesis then offers a study of these dynamic processes, with a focus on agents. The thesis delves into the implications of the research for the concept of security and reveals how humanitarian security embodies IAAs‘ distinctive baggage. It suggests that IAAs require a more comprehensive understanding of how their identity and practices affect their security. The thesis‘ original contribution is two-fold: it represents the first critical constructivist study of humanitarian security practices and is the first research to study humanitarian organizations as referent objects of security.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2011 Jean S. Renouf
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
Sets: Departments > International Relations
Supervisor: Hoffman, Mark and Jacquin-Berdal, Dominique

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