The Military as New Actors in International Development

What this research is about?

This research was undertaken by Prof. Uma Kothari from Manchester University’s Institute for Development Policy and Management (IDPM), working with Prof. Nina Laurie and Prof. Rachel Woodward from Newcastle University, Dr Matt Baillie Smith from Northumbria University, and Dr Jen Peterson from Manchester University’s Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute. It was funded by a small grant from the Development Studies Association and the Department for International Development under the ‘New Ideas’ initiative . <p>

What was this research about?

The research began from the starting point that although there is a considerable amount of research in development studies and international relations about the nexus between military, security, and development agendas in theory, practice, and policy, there is little understanding of the role of military personnel in development work, despite initial evidence for their increasing involvement. Furthermore, anecdotal evidence seemed to suggest that working or volunteering in international development was a popular career move for ex-military personnel.

What did this research do?

The research therefore asked a broad research question: can serving and former military personnel are seen as new actors in international development, and if so what might the implications of this be for development, policies, and aid? More specifically, the research investigated how military organisations and personnel are involved in development, what training they receive, and what are the perceptions of both the military actors and others of this role.

What were the findings of this research?

This research was a scoping study, to explore and map the range of issues pertaining to the idea of military personnel and institutions as ‘new’ actors in development.  We hosted a workshop in May 2012 bringing together a number of former military personnel and academics working on these issues, and presented findings at the DSA annual conference in 2012, the 2013 Royal Geographical Society-Institue of British Geographers conference in London, and the 2013 European International Studies Association conference in Warsaw. 

Contact: Nina Laurie