Mercy and Mercenaries: The Politics of Private Security Contractors Protecting Humanitarian Agencies

4:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.


The Julien J. Studley Graduate Program in International Affairs present faculty member Peter Hoffman to discuss Mercy and Mercenaries: The Politics of Private Security Contractors Protecting Humanitarian Agencies.
Since the end of the Cold War attacks on aid workers have seemingly surged as they have come to be viewed by some militants as a prized political targets and by criminals as lucrative resources to extort from or ransom. In response humanitarian agencies have struggled to determine with what measures are morally and politically appropriate to ensure the physical safety of their personnel. Over this same period private security companies have emerged as capable actors that are seeking to offer their services to not only governments and businesses but also intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations. The idea of hired guns guarding humanitarian workers frequently elicits a perfunctory dismissal in most quarters both inside and outside of the humanitarian sector, as it would seem to make strange bedfellows of devils and angels. That is to say, the fear is that such arrangements empower what are judged as mercenaries and overshadow the good deeds of the humanitarian workers. Nevertheless, beyond outraged polemics, as the security challenges of non-permissive operating environments have deepened, an increasing number of humanitarian agencies have embraced the notion.

Why have the principles and practices of humanitarian agencies changed from the convention of refusing private security contractors for protection to a norm of engagement. How have such security arrangements become palatable to humanitarian agencies? These question are more will be discussed.



Hirshon Suite, 55 West 13th Street, 2nd Floor

Free; no tickets or reservations required; seating is first-come first-served

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