Author Biography

Adam K. Childs has an MSc. in Risk, Crisis and Disaster Management from the University of Leicester, U.K. He has ten years of field experience in delivering humanitarian assistance in insecure and conflict zones, primarily with Médecins Sans Frontières. His research interests revolve aoround the safety and security of aid workers, especially in terms of organisational culture and individual psychometrics. He currently resides in New Zealand and can be reached at adamkc@ymail.com.



Subject Area Keywords

Development and security, Global trends and risks, Humanitarian assistance, Security management


Humanitarian aid agencies have relied primarily on acceptance as their primary risk, or security, management strategy for well over a decade. Evidence suggests, however, that this strategy has become ineffective, as the number of targeted attacks against humanitarian aid workers has been steadily increasing over the past two decades. Despite the urgency of the situation, aid agencies have struggled to effectively implement new strategies and still rely primarily on acceptance as a mitigating strategy. This article examines the limitations of acceptance as practiced by humanitarian aid agencies as a strategy against targeted attacks and the challenges in adopting new strategies. The article uses Cultural Theory to explain these limitations and challenges and concludes with recommendations based on that theory for a new approach to security strategies that takes into account the social milieu of both aid workers and their potential attackers.