Understanding Violent Attacks Against Humanitarian Aid Workers

33 Pages Posted: 9 Dec 2015

See all articles by Kristian Hoelscher

Kristian Hoelscher

University of Oslo

Jason Miklian

International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO); University of Oslo - Centre for Development and the Environment

Haavard Nygaard

University of Oslo

Date Written: November 16, 2015

Abstract

What factors explain attacks on humanitarian aid workers? Most research has either tended to describe trends rather than analyse the reasons underlying attacks, or lacks the empirical evidence to support causal assertions. In moving this agenda forward, we present to our knowledge the first cross-national time-series study that identifies factors related to violent attacks on humanitarian aid workers. Drawing on security, civil conflict, and criminal violence literatures, our theoretical framework explores three groups of potential explanatory factors: dynamics of conflict; the political economic context; and aspects of humanitarian sector operations. Using a global sample at the country-level from 1997-2014, we identify factors related to lethal and non-lethal attacks on humanitarian workers. Our results indicate that the presence and severity of armed conflicts are related to increased attacks on aid workers, but neither conflicts that actively target civilians nor levels of criminal violence increase risks to humanitarian workers. We also find more economically developed and politically stable countries are safer for aid workers, and that the presence of an international military force does not add to aid worker risk.

Keywords: Humanitarianism; Humanitarian Security; Civil Conflict; Humanitarian Aid; United Nations; Civilian Violence; Development Aid; International Non-Governmental Organizations; Risk and insecurity; Aid Worker Attacks

JEL Classification: F35, O19

Suggested Citation

Hoelscher, Kristian and Miklian, Jason and Nygaard, Haavard, Understanding Violent Attacks Against Humanitarian Aid Workers (November 16, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2700772 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2700772

Kristian Hoelscher

University of Oslo ( email )

PO Box 6706 St Olavs plass
Oslo, N-0317
Norway

Jason Miklian (Contact Author)

International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO) ( email )

Oslo
N-0260 Oslo
Norway

University of Oslo - Centre for Development and the Environment ( email )

P.O. Box 1116 Blindern
K1A 0G9
0317 Oslo
Norway

Haavard Nygaard

University of Oslo ( email )

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