Politicisation of humanitarian action and staff security : The use of private security companies by humanitarian agencies

This report summarises discussions at a 2001 workshop looking at the privatisation of security and peacebuilding .

The overall aim of this programme is to assess the impact on peace and stability given the increasing use of private security and military companies by a range of actors in conflict situations, and to promote better means of regulating their activities. The use of such companies by humanitarian agencies, whilst not widespread, is a trend that is increasing with little understanding of the implications and limited development of appropriate policy.

The workshop provided an informal opportunity for consultation and dialogue with and between aid agencies on this emerging issue so that appropriate responses could be explored. Initial findings of two surveys of aid agency policy and practice in Europe and the US commissioned by International Alert were presented at the workshop. This report provides a summary of the main themes and emerging issues discussed, as well as possible ways forward expressed by the participants.

The event, co-hosted by International Alert and the Feinstein International Famine Center, was part of an ongoing programme on the privatisation of security and peacebuilding at International Alert. It took place on 23 to 24 April 2001 in Tufts University, Boston, USA, and involved thirty humanitarian practitioners, government representatives and experts.