Humanitarian security management
by Humanitarian Practice Network June 2010

This issue of Humanitarian Exchange, co-edited by the Humanitarian Practice Network and the Security Management Initiative (SMI) in Geneva, focuses entirely on staff safety and security. Responses to safety and security challenges vary widely across the aid sector. Different contexts, organisational values, principles and missions, perceptions of security, risk thresholds and human and financial resources all contribute to different management approaches. The articles in this issue are intended to encourage critical thinking around risk management and, in some cases, to challenge  existing security management norms.

In the leading article, Adele Harmer highlights five important new topics covered in the revised edition of HPN’s Good Practice Review (GPR) 8, Operational Security Managementin Violent Environments, scheduled for publication in September 2010.Originally published in 2000, GPR 8is considered a seminal document in humanitarian operational security. While much of it remains valid, key changes in the security environment for aid workers and in humanitarian security tools, agency practices and interagency security coordination over the intervening ten years point to the need for a revision. In his article, Gilles Carbonnier discusses why it is important for aid practitioners to undertake political economy analysis to identify contextual drivers of insecurity. Private military and security company regulation is discussed by André du Plessis.

Christina Wille demonstrates how incident data may be analysed to inform strategic and operational decision-making. Policy issues are explored by Elizabeth Rowley, Lauren Burns and Gilbert Burnham, while Larissa Fast and Michael O’Neill present new ideas on developing and implementing acceptance approaches to security. They note, as do

Christine Williamson (human resources and security) and Madeleine Kingston and Oliver Behn (risk attitudes), that managing and reducing risk is not just a field or operational issue but a collective responsibility, involving decision-makers and staff at all levels of an organisation. Mark Allison looks at kidnap and ransom management and Ivor Morgan outlines how agencies have adapted to  changes in the security environment in Darfur. Finally, Michael Kleinman and Mark Bradbury examine the relationship between aid and security in Kenya.

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