International geopolitical influences and transformations have greatly affected the political and security environments in which humanitarian agencies seek to operate. In this regard, Somalia has become a central focus of international ‘stabilisation’ agendas, rooted in a growing preoccupation of the US and other Western powers with containing or ‘fixing’ failed, failing or fragile states. This is deemed to have further politicised and securitised the context and modalities of humanitarian assistance, negatively affecting humanitarian space. It will be important to consider how the perceived or observed contraction of humanitarian space might be a consequence not only of political and other factors outside the system, but also of changes in the scale, scope and nature of aid agencies’ engagement in these contexts.
This meeting explored how interactions between these different sides of the equation on securitisation of aid affect the varying or contested importance and legitimacy of international humanitarian organisations, and their ability to negotiate improved humanitarian space.