chapter  9
20 Pages

Resisting or appropriating

Two approaches in the study of aid, violent non-state actors, and governance
WithOri Swed, Samuel Fletcher Stubblefield

Aid organisation interventions in small wars include the introduction of both a humanistic agenda and the promotion of governance in areas of limited statehood. It also includes the introduction of new resources such as money, food, goods, services, and medicine. While non-state combatants involved in these wars often object to the agenda, they highly covet the resources. Aid organisations regularly utilise this tension to persuade and push belligerents to adopt the organisations’ goals of stability and conflict resolution. In this chapter, we explore the flip side of the coin: violent non-state actors’ responses to this tension and to aid organisations’ agendas. We argue that violent non-state actors treat aid as another means to engage in conflict. We identify two distinct approaches that correspond with this notion. In the first, non-state actors see aid as a threat. It promotes governance over them, eliminating or competing with them. As a result, violent non-state actors either fight or compete with aid organisations. The second approach adopted by violent non-state actors is that aid is an opportunity to increase their own governance, and consequently they should collaborate with the aid industry or even appropriate aid organisations. This chapter focuses on two illustrative case studies: Al-Shabaab in Somalia, representing the threat perspective, and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, representing the opportunity approach. These two case studies add to scholarship on the nexus of aid–governance–security by illustrating how aid is treated and used by violent non-state actors.