The starting point of this paper by Jean S. Renouf (2016) is the observation, on the one hand, of the deterioration – in relative and absolute terms – of humanitarian actors’ security operating in complex environments, and, on the other hand, of the increasing presence of private security actors in the same contexts. In addition, whether humanitarian organisations are targeted or being victims of “collateral damages”, the paper highlights their increasing dilemma of having to choose between staying in extremely dangerous contexts at their own risk or giving up and leaving behind populations in need. The paper then raises the question of whether the use of private security can contribute to bring solutions- or not – to this dilemma.
Both empirical and conceptual approaches are used to answer this question. As a first step, the paper identifies the various actors- humanitarians and security providers -, and analyses their respective risk management strategies. As a second step, the paper studies how the principles of humanitarian action influences humanitarians’ decision making processes, and confronts them to the use of morality by private security companies as a legitimizing factor.
As a conclusion, the paper offers hypothesis of future development of risk management by humanitarian actors and the role of private security companies in it.