Category Archives: Research

SAND in Depth

The Field of Security and Development

Fall 2010

By Edward J. Laurance

(Click here for original PDF)

I. General Overview of the Policy Issues

In the wake of the Cold War, many global social problems have emerged that have engaged the international community. One of these problems is the growing level of insecurity and armed violence that is preventing and interfering with desperately needed economic, social and political development (good governance). Increasingly governments, NGOs and IGOs have begun to collaborate to solve these security problems as part of the overall plan for development in specific locales, countries and regions. This has created a new field named Security and Development, which basically addresses how these two concepts, can be integrated in practice.

This is a challenging task, given that these two operational and epistemic communities

(Security, Development) have traditionally acted alone. Recently, operations in places like Haiti, Iraq, Afghanistan, and The Sudan have demonstrated the necessity for greater integration.

A. In the past five years the integration of security and development has become a reality. Some places to go to see this integration in action:

The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) has led the way in integrating these two approaches. See:

Read the journal Conflict, Security & Development to get an overview of the topics in this field. Sample Issue

Armed Violence Reduction: Enabling Development. Required book for the seminar in Security and Development.

B. A set of challenges or obstacles to development have emerged that are grouped under the concept “Security and Development.” For each I have given a websites which explain the challenge further.

The first of these is the presence of anti-personnel landmines that deny the use of land and exact a humanitarian toll, the cost of which crushes the health budgets of most countries where these mines are sowed. The challenge is to remove them while at the same time getting governments to comply with the treaty which bans their manufacture, export, and deployment. Further, this demining effort is increasingly linked to the economic, social and political development of the country.

The second challenge is presented by the negative effects of excessive proliferation, accumulation availability and misuse of small arms and light weapons.  The wide availability and lack of control of these weapons–assault rifles, hand grenades, grenade launchers, rocket launchers and even man-portable air defense missiles which can bring down civilian airliners–have taken a huge humanitarian toll. The best estimate by the Small Arms Survey is that 500,000 people die each year from these weapons, most of them innocent civilians. Many millions more are wounded, maimed and terrorized by those who misuse these easily obtained weapons. A Little else in the way of economic, social and political development can proceed in areas where everyone is armed with lethal weapons. In essence the international community has begun to recognize that armed violence cannot be reduced without a dual emphasis on the root causes of violence and the tools of violence. Additionally, there is a growing consensus as to the specific impacts on development due to this problem. An overall concept is the lack of human security- freedom from fear, injustice and want.

A third challenge is the child soldier phenomenon. Development goals related to children have to take into account the special case of the significant damage caused by and to this special category of children and youth.

The fourth challenge is the presence of corrupt and poorly trained and equipped security forces. Security sector transformation is now a major global policy effort.

Another challenge, especially in the wake of the formal end of armed violence or peace or agreements, is demobilizing, disarming and then reintegrating ex-combatants into society. Economic, social and development is at risk when former combatants hold on to their weapons and continue to use armed violence. These so-called DDR programs are rapidly expanding and are a major focus for the World Bank, UNDP and donor states.

We also know that in the absence of the rule of law in a country creates serious security problems and impacts heavily on sustainable development., programs such as those described above are insufficient to change the security environment. The transformation of justice systems and the implementation of the rule of law is now a big priority in reconstruction and peacebuilding efforts. It is considered a security issue.

Enhancing the Delivery of Justice and Security

What is the case for a security and justice focus in development assistance programming?

UN Secretary General. The rule of law and transitional justice in conflict and post-conflict societies.

As mentioned above, the security and development/humanitarian assistance communities differ in their approaches to accomplishing their goals. We read everyday where development/humanitarian assistance workers leave their missions as insecurity requires a military/police presence which interferes with their preferred modus operandi.  As reality has forced them to work more closely together, the tensions and frictions between them have created a need to specifically address how they can work together.  Conflicting approaches to security and development: military vs. NGOs/IGOs

  • THE RISE OF THE RELIEF-AND-RECONSTRUCTION COMPLEX Walden Bello. Journal of International Affairs. New York: Spring 2006. Vol. 59, Iss. 2; pg. 281, 17 pgs. MIIS Library Proquest

Another emerging challenge is integrating the gender dimension into security and development programs. Failure to mainstream gender into S and D programs especially DD and R, often results in a failure to achieve program goals.

Reducing armed violence as a prelude to development is also addressed as a public health issue.

Small arms and global health

Preventing violence and reducing its impact: How development agencies can help.

A Public Health Approach To Developing Armed Violence Indicators

A final topic is the integration of these security programs into a comprehensive whole. The following draft report (in progress) chronicles this evolution.  The UNDP Role in the Comprehensive Approach to Security in Fragile States:

An Assessment. Edward J. Laurance Version 5.0 10 June 2010

(See Publications)


SAND’s activities at MIIS include:

A Master of Public Administration concentration in Security and Development.

Monthly “War & Peace” Night’s
Once a month development and security communities from NPS, DLI, MIIS and others come together to bridge the civilian military communication gap and increase understanding of each others work.  Blurred boundaries between civilian and military organizations prompt conflicts over what researchers call domain conflicts. Traditionally, development addresses civilians and security deals with combatants. In fragile states, the line between civilians and combatants is often blurred. This “domain conflict” is a critical problem in coordinating inter-organizational operations in these settings. With the goal of building “Domain Consensus” between these two fields, SAND-MIIS  host monthly War & Peace bar nights in order to build informal understanding and connections between these two spheres.

Ongoing research. MIIS students and faculty are conducting a wide range of research in areas such as:

  • Small Arms Light Weapons
  • Operation Ceasefire Programs
  • Weed and Seed Programs
  • Others