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Session 8: Development Aid and Conflict


Development Aid and Conflict: Should a New Wave of Armed Conflicts and Increased Political Instability alter Canada’s Approach?


In 2023, the World is very far from the End of History, and the all-out victory of liberal democracy that was proclaimed in 1992. Between then and now, following 9/11, the securitization discourse around development aid gained existential weight. Useful here is the Copenhagen School's publications popularising the term 'securitization' in the study of international relations. It is intended to be meant as a critical term for how fields unrelated to security concerns become ‘securitized’ by actors who attach (typically national) security value to them. This permits them to be prioritised as urgent concerns and so dealt with using extraordinary means. Power diffusion, instability and conflict, and a growing standoff between democracy and autocracy as choices governance systems are becoming still more prevalent. With the multitude of ongoing conflicts and heightened instability it is hard not to see a new wave of securitization  of development aid to defence, security and governance.

The peace dividend following the end of the Cold War is long gone; large segments of people in many societies are disillusioned with the lack of delivery by democratically elected leaders or actively being lured away from them by active disinformation campaigns and financial, business and other promises of powerful autocracies. Western societies are currently plagued by a cost-of-living crisis, the adverse effects of climate change and growing inequality. Politicians struggle with a maze of growing international and domestic issues, new or unexperienced for generations. Reconciling domestic issues with international priorities has never been an easy task. Still, the choice of reconciling budget pressures on the home front, the War in Ukraine and other conflicts abroad, forces the development aid discourse into securitization territory once again.

The good news is the relative success of the MDGs and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, even if less successful in countries often plagued by instability and conflict, a situation that effectively hampers any real developmental progress. The Canadian post 9/11 securitization effort deployed the term ‘fragile states’, later a ‘whole-government approach’, but country selection seemed to only respond to the immediate security interests rather than longer-term interests. Canada can, for a relatively small investment, ensure that a long-term footprint is kept in the countries that, because of instability, conflict and lack of advances in democratic, inclusive governance, have stayed low-income, rather than leaving a vacuum for autocratic states, that harbour no true development ambitions, to fill. If development aid is securitized, the Canadian logic of intervention should hold for all countries regardless of geography.

For development consultants, the securitization of aid has very practical ramifications. Firstly, the implementation where development consultants end up as co-opted by securitization makes them part of the agenda working within the security paradigm, making them legitimate targets to those opposing the security, democracy and inclusivity agenda – at times putting their safety at risk. Secondly, the link to the end user of the outcomes of development aid and its beneficiaries largely becomes absent because of the discourse construct. Impact through a security lens looks very different. This, however, does notmean that the normative core of civilian development cannot be based on concern around governance, inclusivity v/s inequality, climate justice and well-being. It is a fine line: dogmatic views at either end of the security–development spectre are either politically unviable or ineffective in creating sustainable development results. Perhaps we should aim at a ‘developmentalization’ of the Canadian security policy agenda and rethink the concepts into a working two-tier developmental model that does not leave the poorest and most unstable countries behind.

This session intends to respond to the following key questions: 

  1. Should the Canadian development community aim to ‘developmentalize’ the Canadian security policy and governance agenda, and how?, and
  2. Can the normative tenants of development be preserved in a securitized setting? if yes, on which premise?

Chatham House Rules will apply to the panel discussion 


Jonas Mikkelsen, PhD, has worked in international organizations since 2005 in the areas of Rule of Law, Democracy Assistance and Human Rights. He started his career with the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) in Rome, and his latest appointment was as Second Deputy Director at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). Jonas holds a PhD in International Relations from the University of London, an MSc in Statistics and Economics from the University of Rome ‘Sapienza’, a Postgraduate Diploma in Business and Administration from The University of Manchester, a BA in History and a BSc in Economics from the University of Copenhagen.


Professor Yiagadeesen (Teddy) Samy, is a Professor of International Affairs and currently the Director of the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs (NPSIA) at Carleton University. His research interests intersect the broad areas of international and development economics, and his current research focuses on domestic resource mobilization, fragile states, foreign aid and income inequality. His most recent co-authored books are Exiting the Fragility Trap: Rethinking Our Approach to the World’s Most Fragile States (Ohio University Press, 2019) and Trade and Women’s Economic Empowerment: Evidence from Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (Palgrave Macmillan, 2023). 


Lawrence Tucker-Gardiner is Cowater International’s Head of Risk (and Global Security) with over 20 years’ experience in the international development, government and humanitarian sectors. He has pioneered conflict sensitivity through analysis and integrated risk management approaches in project design globally. Lawrence is specialized in organizational analysis, leadership, and strategy and often in high-risk contexts, with wide-ranging experience in investigations, governance, and rule of law, training and capacity building.

Ulric Shannon, Director General, Peace and Stabilizaton Operations, at Global Affairs Canada, is a career diplomat in the Canadian foreign service who has specialized in stabilization and conflict issues, mainly in the Arab and Muslim worlds. He served as Canada’s ambassador to Iraq from 2019 to 2021, overseeing one of Canada’s largest development, humanitarian, stabilization, and military assistance programs anywhere in the world. His previous postings have included Egypt, the Palestinian Territories, Pakistan, and Turkey, where he served as Canada’s Consul General in Istanbul from 2016 to 2019. Following his time as ambassador in Iraq, Ulric served as the National Democratic Institute's Resident Senior Director for West Bank and Gaza while on leave from the Government of Canada. In August 2022 he was appointed Director General for Peace and Stabilization at Global Affairs Canada.

Charles Duff, is Vice President of Alinea International (Canada) and Managing Director of Alinea International (UK and Australia). With more than 30 years of experience implementing international development services for private and public sector clients worldwide, Charles leads Alinea’s programming in Ukraine, which includes six security sector reform and governance projects funded by GAC and FCDO and has managed programmes in conflict and post-conflict-affected regions/states in Iraq, Bosnia, Georgia, Macedonia, Armenia, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, and Slovakia. An agricultural economist and rural livelihoods specialist, Charles previously led the global international development business of Palladium International Development and the European operating companies of Coffey International Development and Enterplan.

Dr Nipa Banerjee earned Doctorate and Master's degrees, specializing in development studies, from Toronto, Carleton (NPSIA) and McMaster Universities in Canada. She served as a practitioner and senior policy analyst in international development and foreign aid for over 35 years. She worked with Canadian Universities Services Overseas (CUSO), International Development Research Center (IDRC)  and 33 years in CIDA, Canada's ODA agency (now amalgamated with Global Affairs Canada). She represented Canada in Bangladesh, Indonesia, India/Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Afghanistan, heading Canada's aid program in the four latter countries. She is currently at the International Development and Global Studies Department and the Center for International Policy Studies (CIPS) at the University of Ottawa. She has been recognized for her work (research and analysis) on Afghanistan as a fragile state.