Is Development Aid Securitised? Evidence from a Cross-Country Examination of Sector Aid Commitments

Melita Lazell, Ivica Petrikova

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How has the securitisation of development impacted the sectoral distribution of bi-lateral development aid? Over the past two decades, academics and development NGOs have become increasingly concerned about the impact of the securitisation of development. This debate has not, however, adequately addressed the impact of securitisation on actual aid commitments to key sectors. If aid commitments are influenced by securitisation this will have implications on the types of programmes funded by bi-lateral donors. In response, this article investigates whether and how securitisation has impacted the distribution of British, American, Swedish and Danish development aid by sector. We do this through investigating how conflict in recipient states and the extent to which the recipient state is perceived as a security threat, impact aid commitments to priority sectors; democratisation and peace, conflict and security. A mixed methods approach analyses both the policy discourse and aid commitments of the bi-lateral donors. For the latter we utilise data from the OECD’s Creditor Reporting System and the Uppsala University Conflict Data Programme, along with data from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute and the Global Terrorism Database in a cross-sectional time-series regression analysis. The new data produced indicate that the securitisation of development has had the most significant effect on aid commitments to states not actually affected by conflict and furthermore that the strategic importance of conflict-affected states and the domestic character of donor governments both influence the strength of aid securitisation. Given the concerns regarding aid for security purposes and donor’s own policy discourse, bi-lateral donors should consider the necessity of current funding for conflict, peace and security programmes in non-conflict affected states and recognise the role that national security interests have in aid distribution decisions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDevelopment Policy Review
Early online date15 Jan 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Jan 2019

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