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The UK's approach to linking development and security

Working paper

Written by Leni Wild

Working paper

Concerns have been raised that the United Kingdom is reshaping its development approach in order to put its own security interests ahead of those of the poorest – what has been referred to as a 'securitisation of aid’.

More fundamentally, practical attempts at better integrating development and security have frequently been hampered by simplistic understandings of the relationship. As explored in this Working Paper, this has resulted in a lack of innovative approaches for better securing development outcomes and supporting peace.

This Working Paper argues that a closer look at the Department for International Development's (DFID) engagement in these contexts suggests that UK aid has not been used purely to achieve geo-political and security objectives.

Looking ahead, new ways need to be found to realise the policy commitment of better integrating development and security with the aim of reducing poverty and building peace. This will need to be underpinned by more nuanced analysis of how these dimensions interrelate, with credible theories of change for how to support countries transitioning out of conflict, and much clearer co-ordination and joint working across government.

This should be accompanied by much greater caution as to when and how development assistance should work alongside UK military support. To achieve this, the UK government will also need stronger mechanisms for prioritisation and for mediating between potentially conflicting priorities and goals.

Samir Elhawary and Leni Wild