Security Risk Management in the Current Global Context for Humanitarian Response
Speakers: Lisa Reilly
This session started with a keynote presentation by Hugo Slim who highlighted how much the global context for humanitarian response is changing and will change over the next 10 years. In particular, he spoke about how different the humanitarian space will look as different actors, including host governments and donor countries, drive changes to the approach. Based on this foundation, the session looked at the perceptions of the audience regarding security risk management (SRM) and explored how SRM has evolved within the sector over the last 10-15 years. The panel discussion brought the perspective of an INGO, LNGO, and government to the discussion of SRM and included topics such as inclusion and diversity, the integration of cyber and digital risks into security planning, the impact of counter-terrorism legislation, and the importance of risk sharing within partnerships.
Sharing risks: building stronger partnerships
Speakers: Robert Whelan & Léa Moutard
The effects of the pandemic highlighted the importance of having strong partnerships with local actors to effectively deliver aid. It also reminded us that local actors are often those most exposed to security risks but don’t often have sufficient resources to manage them. Much progress still needs to be made to ensure that partners share rather than simply transfer security risks onto the shoulders of local aid organisations.
This session highlighted the importance of sharing risks in partnerships and explored ways to achieve this objective. The first part of the event explained why the joint management of security risks is essential to effective humanitarian action. Representatives of local and international NGOs then shared their experiences of what worked and what didn’t when it came to managing security risks in partnerships. Break-out rooms allowed participants to identify what they need to better share risks in their partnerships and what resources were already in place to help them. Finally, a panel including a representative from the Grand Bargain, Philippe Besson, a local NGO, Josephine Habba, and an international NGO, Caterina Becorpi, explored some of the obstacles and solutions to sharing risks in partnerships. The conversation looked at both the operational and structural challenges and allowed for inputs from participants. It ended with a collective reflection on the next actions that organisations can take to carry the burden of security risks as partners.
Acceptance and Access
Speakers: Larissa Fast
In the context of SRM, effective ‘acceptance’ is built upon consent and relationships with a range of key stakeholders in humanitarian contexts in order to ensure safe and continued access to conflict- or disaster-affected populations. This session defined and described acceptance for those working within and outside SRM roles, underlined its importance for safe and continued access to affected populations, and noted the diversity and similarities of approaches to acceptance across different types of organisations.
In this session, panellists and participants highlighted actions they take to implement an acceptance strategy as well as the challenges in doing so. For example, reviews of acceptance strategies noted the shades of grey, where humanitarian organisations may be simultaneously accepted, tolerated, and targeted by different actors. Panellists highlighted the importance of language, granular and detailed context analysis, quality programming, as well as communications and engagement with military actors, non-state actors as well as community members and leaders. Audience questions noted specific challenges of acceptance related to the external conflict environments (e.g., corruption, the role of perceptions and dialogue, humanitarian principles), relationships among humanitarian organisations (distinction from political actors or from other organisations, reputational issues), and internal dynamics (e.g., safeguarding, duty of care, national staff).
Managing Security Risks in a Digital World
Speakers: James Davis, Lisa Short
The topic of digital security in the humanitarian sector is a relatively new one and not particularly well understood by most professionals working in the sector. References to digital issues are typically referred to IT departments. While technical security is important it does not address the massive risk posed by an online world.
Participants were presented with a wide range of concerns and challenges highlighting how integral the digital environment has become to our sector and the legal, moral, reputational, and criminal risks we face.
A Person-Centred Approach to Security Risk Management in Humanitarian Response
Speakers: Julie Spooner, Catherine Plumridge
The initial part of the session looked at how a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to SRM is not effective, and using the voices of a variety of different aid workers demonstrated how individual concerns may be different from how others may perceive them. A discussion on the difference between equity and equality underscored the importance of ensuring the person-centred approach was also context specific and took into account available resources, local perceptions as well as conscious and unconscious biases. The discussions highlighted that diversity in staff is an asset, not a liability.
Case study exercises were undertaken for South Sudan, Iraq, and Yemen, and practical approaches for identifying and managing security risks for different individuals in these contexts were developed.
Donor Discussion on Security Risk Management
This was a closed meeting, so no recording is available.
This session provided an opportunity for donors to gain a more in-depth understanding of why funding SRM is crucial for effective humanitarian action. Following a summary of the current approach to SRM in the humanitarian sector, three NGOs presented examples of how they implement SRM, the impact that has on programme delivery, and how appropriate funding can make a difference.
The following discussion included the importance of open communication channels on security between implementing organisations and donors to ensure donors do not penalise NGOs for highlighting security risks and that NGOs who properly identify appropriate risk mitigation measures can incorporate these as direct costs essential for programme implementation. Other discussion points included the need to include the ‘soft’ costs incurred for gaining and maintaining an acceptance approach to security as well as costs for local partner organisations to develop and implement their own SRM policies and practices.