Universidade Autónoma de Lisboa
ISSN: 1647-7251
Vol. 6, n.º 2 (November 2015-April 2016), pp. 61-73
Carolina Alves Pereira
Degree in International Relations from the Faculty of Economics, University of Coimbra (2012)
Master's in Development Studies from ISCTE-IUL (2014).
This article1
analyses the influence that political constraints and technical issues have on the
connection between security and development, particularly in discussion on the post-2015
global development agenda. After theoretical grounding, an analysis is done to contextualise
the most influential elements. Following some discussion, the practicalities of the post-2015
agenda for development is exposed, contributing to the materialisation of the problems (and
opportunities) with the connection between security and development, as well as
perspectives on the inclusion of concrete goals that seek this connection in a future global
development aid; security; security-development link; constraints; global agenda for the
post-2015 development.
How to cite this article
Pereira, Carolina Alves (2015). ‘The Security-Development Connection in the Post-2015
Development Agenda’ JANUS.NET e-journal of International Relations, Vol. 6, No. 2,
November 2015-April 2016. Consulted [online] at the date of last visit,
1 Article based on the Master's dissertation of the author, ‘The Security-Development Connection in the
Post-2015 Development Agenda.’, defended in December 2014 [cf. PEREIRA, Carolina Alves - The
Security-Development Connection in the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Lisbon: ISCTE-IUL, 2014.
Masters dissertation. Available at www: < http://hdl.handle.net/10071/8827 >.]
JANUS.NET, e-journal of International Relations
ISSN: 1647-7251
Vol. 6, n.º 2 (November 2015-April 2016), pp. 61-73
The security-development connection in the post-2015 Development Agenda
Carolina Alves Pereira
Carolina Alves Pereira
From the 1990s, multidimensionality has come to characterise the concept of
development. This combined with changes in world geopolitics at the end of the Cold
War and the important changes in the approach to the concept itself has meant that
security has to take place in discussions on development. Security is no longer
associated exclusively with the State or military matters; it relates to a much broader
field of analysis that includes concerns about the theme of human rights. Living
conditions of populations and their freedoms and rights have to be highlighted as key
prerequisites for the full development of societies, with insecurity elements being
considered obstacles to that condition (Fukuda-Parr, 2003: passim).
The current theoretical developments that defend the concept's multidimensionality, as
well as current critical Security Studies (particularly from the contributions of the
Schools of Copenhagen like Barry Buzan, Ole Waever and from Aberystwyth Ken
Booth and Richard W. Jones), support the extension of the respective concepts2
Consequently, despite being a much debated topic, security tends to show very little
consistency in discussions about international development. The vast body of literature
reveals that there is indeed room to debate security and its consequences for
development, highlighting the security/insecurity duality that corresponds to
prevention/reaction dimensions the preferred approach in the discourse. Security as
the absence of threats to collective well-being (based on prevention in view of the
likelihood of those threats), and insecurity when such threats exist, is evident and
constant. This is associated with a reactive dimension that is based on the action of
insecurity factors (Fukuda-Parr, 2007: 3; Denney, 2013ª: 4).
. In this
way, they favour greater convergence of areas that they involve. As a result, a vast
and interesting discussion has been generated, albeit with little consensus, raising
questions about the ‘securitisation of development’.
2 For example, Ken Booth argues that security itself can only be achieved by people and groups if they do
not deprive others of it (Booth apud Diskaya, 2013). This immediately shows the rupture with the
traditional perspective that determined security as the exclusive responsibility of the State, as it puts the
individual at the centre of the discussion.
JANUS.NET, e-journal of International Relations
ISSN: 1647-7251
Vol. 6, n.º 2 (November 2015-April 2016), pp. 61-73
The security-development connection in the post-2015 Development Agenda
Carolina Alves Pereira
Security implies more than the simple absence of threats. It should, in fact, be
associated with the inability to guarantee the means and conditions necessary for the
pursuit of sustainable and lasting development policies. The absence of threats, the
availability of resources to meet the needs of all, equality, justice, stability, confidence
(in government institutions) and build strong, robust and capable societies, can all be
seen as security factors (Fitz-Gerald, 2004: 10).
Insecurity implies more than the absence of peace. From the perspective of
endogenous factors (internal factors that influence the events in a given territory),
insecurity is characterised by the prolonged existence of dangerous situations that
threaten the well-being and stability of societies. Conflicts, armed and physical
violence, discrimination, governmental and institutional breakdown, power struggles,
shortages of resources or economic hardship and corruption, black-market economies
and trafficking are factors that exist as threats, because they all fuel disputes and
situations of instability and insecurity (McCandless & Karbo 2011: passim).
The aforementioned duality works as an argument to link the fields of security and
development, which favours a consensus among theorists who work on it. The concepts
turn out to be inextricably linked since it is the combination of factors that matters
most. The impact of insecurity on low levels of development, however, is one that
brings great consensus.
Inherent political and technical constraints of the security-
development connection
The question of causality involving security and development encases the main issue of
the link between those concepts. This raises political reluctance and technical difficulties
that significantly influence decision-making when introducing a specific security
objective in the global development agenda.
The more approached constraints of political order often relate to overlapping interests,
benefits and privileges of actors in the international political agenda, particularly the
donors that hamper the harmonisation of security and development agendas.
According to Blunt et al. (2011: 176), the real needs of the least developed countries
are not yet satisfactorily covered by donor communities’ aid programmes since they are
more conditioned by the will and interests of donors, who are beneficiaries. The
economic financial, economic and monetary capability of countries decisively influences
the parameters of their aid programmes and, invariably, means an increase in
disparities between developed and developing regions (Blunt et al., 2011: 175-177).
This coupled with the existence and implementation of a single model of development
based on Western and neoliberal development patterns is often seen as a form of
interference in the internal affairs of countries, discrediting their authority and
legitimacy (Buur et al., 2007: 31).
The consequence of these focuses in aid programmes is reflected primarily in the
prevalence of the pursuit of donors’ own goals as well as economic and political
benefits. This is seldom done transparently, seeking to mask intentions and interests
and increase geopolitical advantages. This trend is associated with the paternalist
character and pretensions of Westernisation so often pointed to by donor countries, as
JANUS.NET, e-journal of International Relations
ISSN: 1647-7251
Vol. 6, n.º 2 (November 2015-April 2016), pp. 61-73
The security-development connection in the post-2015 Development Agenda
Carolina Alves Pereira
well as the prevalence of development models responsible for the handling and
usurpation of official development assistance (ODA) (Blunt et al., 2011: passim).
As a result, this eventual manipulation of programmes by power and political structure
often turns out to be responsible for further damaging already-weakened situations,
characterised by violent (or post-conflict) environments. Camouflaged securitisation
and militarisation through aid programmes, together with the effects that this may
have on the living conditions of receiver populations, is feared (Bonnel & Michailof
2012: passim).
This risk of misrepresentation and perversion that the concept can suffer, especially by
political actors, reflects its conceptual vulnerability. This is due to the fact that it is at
the mercy of needs, objectives, purposes and contexts of those who employ it or where
it are located. The misuse of the term, considering the possible inclusion of security in
the agenda as a way to legitimise the use of force under pretexts of ODA (humanitarian
interventions or the case of the fight against terrorism, for example), distorts the
nature of aid and contributes to the weak development of disadvantaged areas and
deepening external dependence (Bonnel & Michailof 2012: passim; Buur et al., 2007:
31; Cammack et al., 2006: passim). Maybe to circumvent these reluctances,
suggestions for the topic’s inclusion in the political development agenda will involve
security objectives in other areas, such as governance, justice and the rule of law
(Denney, 2013ª: 7-8).
In the context of ODA in situations of insecurity, it is therefore recognised that the
matter in question is the maintenance of a tricky balance between the interests and
expectations of donors and beneficiaries. However, the self-interest of some donors has
proven to be a real and difficult obstacle that is not restricted to isolated cases. In fact,
just as some donors manage their programmes according to their own benefit and
status, it is also true that some uphold more moderate actions. For example, rising
economies seem to engage in an aid system that is more orientated towards
cooperation and mutual assistance. In these cases, donors are faced with the difficult
task of managing their interests with those of others. On the one hand, the importance
of organising themselves as political actors and financiers remains, with duties that
require a firm stance and efficient results to justify their investment. On the other
hand, an actor has responsibilities in regards to the beneficiary’s expectation and the
need for support in economic terms, as well as training at a governmental and
institutional level (Driscoll & Evans, 2005: passim).
There is a need for political harmony in ODA, which is as important as complex. When
extended to contexts of violence and post-conflict that proliferate insecurity factors,
this aspect becomes paramount.
Another aspect is technical constraints, which are related primarily to measurability.
These include collecting data and creating viable monitoring systems to establish a
causal link between security/insecurity and development factors, as well as
standardisation (or generalisation) of policies and development programmes.
Measurability relates generally to the possibility of measurement based on indicators
and goals that set out the results of a given action in order to reveal its impact. This
definition also applies to the context of development and security. In these contexts,
measurability appears to be associated with the opportunity and ability to measure the
JANUS.NET, e-journal of International Relations
ISSN: 1647-7251
Vol. 6, n.º 2 (November 2015-April 2016), pp. 61-73
The security-development connection in the post-2015 Development Agenda
Carolina Alves Pereira
impact of security policies applied in development programmes, and is considered to be
a decisive factor in international aid in contexts of insecurity (Bush et al., 2013: 45).
When discussing security and development agendas in conjunction, measurability or
evaluation of impacts and results appears to be associated mainly with programmes of
Demobilization, Disarmament and Reintegration (DDR) or Reform of Security Systems
(RSS), as well as the tasks of peace-building and peacekeeping in post-conflict contexts
and to all that is inherent to them: number of victims, the number of displaced people,
the number of refugees, level of institutional and governmental performance,
proliferation of arms, arms trafficking, the existence of mines, etc.. Monitoring these
indicators allows one to evaluate the evolution of these programmes and missions, i.e.
missions dealing with insecurity factors that endanger the lives of citizens, their means
and resources, which are needed for daily activities. This corresponds with negative
effects on the affected territory’s development indices that take into consideration
mines, weapons, violence and fragility (Menkhaus, 2004: 3; Bush et al., 2013: passim).
Measurability tries to measure and evaluate the impact projects and programmes
initiated under these missions have on those cited indicators, when the mission agenda
is defined as a set of objectives with targets, indicators and assumptions. These
indicators guide the pursuit of goals and objectives, contributes to their achievement
and consequently enables the programme to reflect on the level of success after its
completion (Menkhaus, 2004: 4-6; Bush et al., 2013: passim).
According to Bush and Duggan (2013), the interaction between the context of the
conflict and the evaluation system consists of four parts: methods, logistics, politics
and ethics. These four strands interconnect and decisively influence the evaluation
process of results obtained from the policies applied through peace-building and
peacekeeping missions (Bush & Duggan, 2013: 8).
The interconnection between the mentioned aspects can put some limitations on
measurability (manifested in the obstacles to evaluators' work). In particular,
information restrictions, the action of external actors (those who require the evaluation,
whether political authorities or other) and the actual physical environment that, due to
insecurity, geographical formation or accessibility, impedes evaluators' access to a
situation. Weakness or lack of information can also prevent data collection, preventing
the formulation of results. These limitations ultimately put into question the reliability
of interpretation of a programme's true impact (Bush & Duggan, 2013: 9-11).
The first limitation to be studied involves those responsible for projects and the
proponents of the evaluation. It tries to condition access to documentation, allowing
evaluators to use only properly filtered sites and information of reference. When
submitting results, conclusions sometimes do not coincide with reality (assess positively
when data indicate otherwise, for example). However, this encompasses problems
associated with the choice of assessment methods as the client requires the use of
dispersed and varied methodologies instead of others, endangering the soundness of
the evaluation (Bush & Duggan, 2013: 9-11).
Another concerns the typical complications of conflict and post-conflict situations, i.e.
when it is necessary to evaluate the impact of a programme in this context, the process
becomes more complicated compared to other situations. This is because these
environments have harmful characteristics, including instability, insecurity, corruption,
institutional and governmental breakdown, lack of resources, poor access to
JANUS.NET, e-journal of International Relations
ISSN: 1647-7251
Vol. 6, n.º 2 (November 2015-April 2016), pp. 61-73
The security-development connection in the post-2015 Development Agenda
Carolina Alves Pereira
information (the basis of the evaluation process and essential to the effectiveness of
measurability). These are essentially common elements of fragile states and places
where armed violence proliferate (Bush et al., 2013: passim).
Another issue is related with the obstacles to the evaluators when aggregating data,
studying results and the subsequent reporting on the executed programmes. If the
information collected is not reliable or consistent, the evaluation's work results become
weak and obsolete (Menkhaus, 2004: 6).
Despite difficulties, measurability remains one of the conditioning principles of acting
within the scope of development cooperation, particularly in regards to security issues.
In fact, a main argument associated with the measurability/evaluation claims that
including security in the international agenda through concrete and measurable topics
(such as the number of weapons, mines, the number of violent deaths, etc.)
contributes to regular interventions under the pretext of security and controls the
interference of political pretensions (Denney, 2013ª: 8). This seems to help to establish
a causal relationship between security and development, justifying the possible
introduction of goals and objectives associated with the theme.
The ability to evaluate a programme and present the respective impacts in the form of
concrete results is one of the key issues underlying donor initiatives, as seen in the
CAD reports, DAC Statistical Reporting Directives (OECD, 2010) and Evaluating Peace-
building Activities in Settings of Conflict and Fragility: Improving Learning for Results
(OECD, 2012c). Of course, the perspective of donors and their respective criteria has a
focus, i.e. donor countries of the OECD are considered to be beneficiaries under certain
criteria and have certain actions that can be incorporated in the context of ODA. This
means that the ODA programmes respond from the outset to the ability to measure
results (OECD, 2012c: passim).
The development of monitoring is an equally important technical constraint. To find and
formulate analytical indicators and ensure their viability, impartiality and reliability is a
real challenge. Indicators permit the pursuit of objectives so that they are consistent
with the work and success other aspects it is concerned with. Indicators are the most
specific data monitoring formulation (along with the objectives and goals) and refer to
the state of the achievement of goals. The purpose is for the agents responsible to
realise, through indicators (collected from reliable sources), the goals that are to be
met. This means that verifying the weakness of the indicators inevitably has
repercussions on the rest of the programme, putting into question the soundness of
conclusions drawn about the achievement of goals and consequently the achievement
of objectives (UN, 2013: 23-25).
Also, contextual negligence when formulating ODA projects or programmes, in relation
to the contexts in which they are inserted, is seen as a technical constraint (although
some political dimension here does exist) to the formal presence of the security theme
in the development agenda, especially by beneficiary countries. This underlines the
trend towards generalisation, so often associated with the Millennium Development
Goals (MDGs), based on the approach ‘one size fits all’, as well as the existence of
applicable categorisation (although susceptible to adaptation) in the various situations
of fragility and conflict or violence. This approach is harmful to the proper pursuit of
objectives, underestimating the realities to which the aid must fit (Bonnel & Michailof,
2012: passim).