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Upcoming research

Find out more about the research we're working on and how you can get involved.

At GISF, we believe that collaboration and inclusivity are essential to developing effective and impactful research. Through blogs, research projects and translations, we strive to represent many voices and welcome contributions from a diversity of actors and sectors. If you or your organisation would like to get involved in the making or dissemination of our upcoming research projects, please contact us at gisf-research@gisf.ngo.

Current and recently completed projects and collaborations:

Security in a Digital World

GISF is currently undertaking a new research project looking at how an increasingly digitalised world impacts the security and safety of humanitarian NGOs. The project aims to enhance our understanding of a variety of issues: from strengthening our capacity to assess how digital, physical, and personal security risks intersect to looking at how geopolitical trends in a digitalised world impact humanitarian action and the safety and security of NGO staff.

This project will be composed of several research products, with the first being released in spring 2023. If you would like to contribute to our research on this topic, please reach out to Dan at gisf-americasra@gisf.ngo or Chiara at gisf-research@gisf.ngo.

Toward Inclusive Security: the impact of ‘race’, ethnicity and nationality on aid workers’ security

‘Race’, ethnicity and nationality have a significant impact on the security of aid workers. However, this impact has been insufficiently explored, with conversations often remaining sensitive, if not taboo. While organisations have begun to use staff profiles to better understand the risks individuals face, they often don’t mitigate these specific risks. Based on interviews with humanitarians across a range of roles and regions, this article highlights some of the key security issues that organisations must consider to fulfil their Duty of Care toward aid workers of colour:

  1. The relation between ‘race’, ethnicity, nationality and security;
  2. The impact of racism on the security of aid workers and organisations;
  3. NGOs’ practices regarding ‘race’, ethnicity, nationality and security.

By identifying these issues and the ways in which ‘race’, racism, ethnicity, and nationality affect the security of staff and organisations, this new GISF article seeks to encourage further conversations, enabling security managers and aid workers to discuss and reflect on the security and safety of aid workers of colour. The article also provides a number of recommendations for organisations to improve their SRM practices in the short-term, and also to create long-term organisational and cultural change that enables inclusive security.

GISF NGO Security Toolbox

The GISF NGO Security Toolbox provides easily accessible guidance, resources and tools to help NGOs integrate good risk management practices into their operations during humanitarian responses. The toolbox enables both security specialists and non-security staff to access practical resources and tools on the go, and helps them put in place basic safety and security measures quickly, without having to start from scratch. As connectivity is often limited in emergencies, the toolbox can also be downloaded for use off-line. The toolbox is divided into six sections, looking at:

  • Assessment
  • Planning & implementation
  • Incident response
  • Information management
  • Collaboration & coordination
  • Training

In the form of guides, templates and SOPs, the toolbox offers various resources to ensure that appropriate security measures are being implemented in volatile environments. It also includes our new long-read NGO Security Collaboration Guide and the Security & Safety Training Pack. You can access the toolbox here.

Achieving Safe Operations Through Acceptance

While acceptance is supposedly the primary security risk management (SRM) strategy of NGOs, its meaning and mechanisms have not received a corresponding amount of attention. This GISF publication investigates what it means to ‘do’ acceptance in practice, including obstacles and opportunities that have emerged over time. The short paper series also considers how changes in the aid environment and aid organisations affect acceptance, drawing practical lessons for security managers.

In response to our call for papers, the articles of this publication present diverging, and in some cases contradictory, viewpoints. Depending on their specific experiences, the article authors provide different interpretations of why acceptance sometimes fails and recommendations and strategies for addressing current challenges. They represent a diversity of perspectives and, we hope, help to facilitate dialogue on these important issues and implicitly acknowledge that there is neither a single way to view nor to ‘do’ acceptance.

You can access the publication here.

Keeping up with COVID-19: essential guidance for NGO security risk managers

GISF has developed a series of modules for staff with security risk management responsibilities, looking at how SRM is impacted by COVID-19. The guidance is divided into three parts (A) Policy and Planning, (B) Operational Security and (C) Staff Support. Modules are developed and updated as the global context unfolds, and new operating practices are developed and implemented. You can access existing ones here.

Partnerships and Security Risk Management: a joint action guide for local and international aid organisations

Building on the research paper ‘Partnerships and Security Risk Management: from the local partner’s perspective‘, GISF has developed a Joint Action Guide for local and international organisations to better collaborate on security risk management. The guide includes various practical tools, to empower local NGOs to strengthen their own security risk management capacity, including guidance on the kinds of support they can request from international partners.

GISF has trialled the tools with both international and local NGOs and received feedback on what works, and what doesn’t. We have organised online workshops with Franziska Heizmann addressed at both local and international NGOs, to help them use the guide and better collaborate on security risk management. The workshops focused on four regions, which local NGOs and international NGOs working in these contexts can join.

The guide is translated into Spanish and French. We’re continuing to plan virtual workshops in English, French and Spanish. If you would like to enquire about upcoming research, please contact gisf-info@gisf.ngo. You can learn more about the workshops here.

Blogs and Translations

The GISF Blog

GISF welcomes contributions to our blog from anyone who has a particular interest or expertise in security risk management or related issues. If you would like to write an original piece for us, please send a brief summary of your ideas to Scarlett at gisf-ra@gisf.ngo.


GISF seeks to make its resources accessible to a large audience by increasing the translations of its work. If you would like to translate one of our original materials, please contact gisf-research@gisf.ngo.

View existing French translations and existing Spanish translations.

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