IRRC No. 894

Book review: Aid in Danger: The Perils and Promise of Humanitarianism

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The number of studies on humanitarian security has increased steadily since the mid-1990s. Most of the available literature is comprised of publications written by security experts, setting the tone for a dominant discourse where an alleged deterioration in the security environment requires humanitarian organizations to professionalize their security management. Prominent among such publications are Operational Security Management in Violent Environments and the more recent Can You Get Sued?, a policy paper on the legal liability of international humanitarian aid organizations towards their staff. Studies by academics have been rare, although they too have increased in recent years. Using a critical approach, scholars such as Mark Duffield4 have appraised the security apparatus, analyzing notably the roots and consequences of the “fortified aid compound” and examining how aid workers are being encouraged to view and accept segregated living as a necessary, and even desirable, evil. And, in a study commissioned by Groupe URD, Arnaud Dandoy critically explores the social and geographical segregations stemming from the normalization of security practices in Haiti.

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