Working Paper

Essays on Transforming Security and Development in an Unequal World

Published on 1 April 2009

These two papers add further dimensions to the discussions in IDS Bulletin 40.2 (March 2009) on ‘Transforming Security and Development in an Unequal World‘ edited by Robin Luckham, Niagalé Bagayoko, Lucia Dammert, Claudio Fuentes and Michael Solis. Like the contributions to the latter, they were first discussed at the founding Colloquium of the Global Consortium for Security Transformation held at Kandalama, Sri Lanka in September 2007.

Niagalé Bagayoko’s paper on ‘State, Non-State and Multilateral Logics of Action in Post-Conflict Environments’ considers the complexities of Northern policymaking and their impacts in post-conflict countries. It thus differs from but complements IDS Bulletin 40.2, which focuses mostly on security and development from a Southern perspective.

She argues that a number of different policy logics are at work in the security, development, humanitarian and media etc domains, which are sometimes coordinated – but often in tension with – each other. Her approach thus differs from that of certain critical voices in the NGO and academic worlds, which hold that there is a danger that Northern security priorities might ‘securitise’ the humanitarian and development agendas, particularly in post-conflict environments. While these dangers are real, nevertheless one should not stereotype all international actors as ‘Northern’ or as promoting Northern security (e.g. anti-terrorist) agendas. It is instead more fruitful to view such actors as diverse players with conflicting interests that operate according to different policy logics.

Lyndsay McLean Hilker’s paper on ‘Why Identity Politics Matters for Security and What Follows for Research and Policy’ spells out a general framework for analysis of identity-based violent conflict, drawing upon empirical examples, including Rwanda, where she has focused her own research. It is unique in its focus on the implications of analysis and research on identity politics for development policy.

She contends that identity politics matter both to the persistence of insecurity and to the achievement of greater security. Evidence from multiple contexts demonstrates that identity provides an effective basis for group mobilisation into collective action – both violent and non-violent in nature. If we are to work to combat insecurity at the local as well as the global level, we need to look in more depth at the processes leading to violence in the name of identity in specific contexts, and explore the types of interventions that can prevent and respond to such violence. It is especially important to understand under what circumstances identity politics can be exercised in ways that are inclusive and empowering rather than exclusionary or violent.

Publication details

published by
Bagayoko, N. and McLean Hilker, L.
IDS Working Paper, issue 322
978 1 85864 597 2


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