Gap Analysis and Evaluation

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This research was specifically undertaken in consideration of one particular security risk to humanitarian personnel following several significant and dramatically televised attacks against them, which prompted 'lessons learned' reporting by agencies, in an attempt to address the matter. The proposition was to examine the key relationship between host state and agencies from a SRM perspective and how this can contribute to securing the safety of aid workers against terrorist threats. In the course of the research several key elements have been scrutinised including: the framework for cooperation, the SRM approach of agencies in securing personnel, the current environment in which agencies operate, and resourcing and capacity issues of states and agencies to deliver security management systems. For the purposes of analysing the research findings in Chapter 5, and the previous materials further, the gap between the stated aims and the implementation of staff safety mechanisms, will be explored in order to finally develop a set of key recommendations aimed at enhancing state and agency cooperation to this end. Especially since, as the opening remarks by Ataturk suggests, complete withdrawal of these agencies from fledgling or 'ailing' states is not a conceivable option. The Gap Analysis model as stated by Parasuraman, Zeithaml and Berry (1985) has been utilised with a few alterations, so that the analysis is shaped to reflect only important gaps likely to exist between the perception of humanitarian staff regarding SRM, and the cooperative delivery thereof by states and agencies. Therefore, the familiarity the participants of both the survey and interviews have, with SRM, has been imperative to informing the development of the recommendations to follow. As Parasuraman et al suggested, the so called 'gaps' exist between: the SRM 'expected' and that which humanitarian personnel believe they have 'received'; in addition to the gaps between the 'quality' of the SRM states and agencies believe they are delivering as opposed to the ideal level of safety necessary to avoid the terrorist threat (Parasuraman et al, 1985:41-50). From the general research and findings it is first necessary to interpret the gaps in the SRM approach of agencies, especially since they are the primary point of contact with respect to humanitarian personnel and their direct experience with the implementation of security protocols. As previously mentioned, and whilst it is common knowledge, the fact that humanitarian programs are inextricably linked with the global peace and security agenda is often subtly tucked beneath the pragmatism of trying to meet the immediate needs of the targeted 'beneficiaries'; that is, in actually delivering aid. However the matter of addressing the local security environment and the safety of personnel must not be lost in service to this broader agenda and the program objectives. The very design of the UN MOSS system provides a good example. It is intended to provide a checklist of minimum standards, so that the situation on the ground can be judged, assessed against them and brought up to a satisfactory level. However, internal studies reveal that they are not always implemented on the ground, that security managers don't effectively look beyond the minimum security level, and that they lack the ability to adequately 'plan ahead' in anticipation of local threats, thereby potentially increasing the vulnerability of humanitarian personnel (Executive Committee of the High Commissioners Programme, 2006: 1). This sentiment was echoed in both the survey and interview results given that almost two-thirds of survey participants felt that the nature of the work compelled individuals to take 'unnecessary' risks to fulfil program objectives, almost half observed that security procedures were not observed in the field and that the most heavily identified reason was due to lack of enforcement by their institution, followed by pressure from within to complete goals within deadlines. Interview responses also indicated that security implementation was not taken seriously enough by humanitarian agencies on the whole. "Some of the best examples of keeping people safe depended on robust SOPs and the organizational ability to instruct staff on how to behave and ensuring compliance. Too often, muddling through means we don't do security seriously" (Senior Humanitarian Executive). Both the Brahimi (Algeria) and Ahtisaari (Iraq) reports revealed fundamental security protocols and advisories were ignored resulting in many fatalities in Algiers and Baghdad through a lack of implementation of procedures on the ground


Unfortunately, it is often through tragedy that the important lessons are reiterated, however the abovementioned executive committee study also prompted the development of a toolkit for managers, to provide assistance with planning and co-ordinating effective security measures (name of toolkit?, year). In essence the findings from research on the use of MOSS and related security measures suggests that there is no single security protocol that can meet the range of possible risks humanitarian workers are exposed to. Instead what is required is that minimum standards should always be implemented in the first instance, followed by thorough training of senior managers who are responsible for identifying the security risks, and effectively addressing these risks to minimise the threat in a timely manner. Indeed training at all levels is integral to successful security programs and risk mitigation, since the initial response in emergency situations is the frontline defence for humanitarian personnel, agencies and states. The de-prioritisation of security training was evident in the survey since 14% identified that the training offered was not mandatory, although 95% recognised that it should be. Additionally almost 1 in 5 stated they had to postpone their attendance of the training, mostly due to work pressures, although 72% of those in that particular situation indicated another opportunity to attend was provided. Given the locations in which the vast majority of humanitarian personnel serve security training ought to be a condition of employment, especially in light of agencies' duty of care. Training is also imperative to make up for any deficit in implementation of security standards, and at least 24% indicated they did not believe the procedures in place were adequate for them to deal with the security challenges faced. Even more disconcerting, however, was the observation by senior personnel that senior managers and security officers are often lacking in the knowledge and skills to provide adequate safety and security and ensure implementation, especially considering the responsibility to provide adequate support falls to these staff members. This data provides some evidence of the gaps in training delivery and in the security mechanisms available for staff to utilise in times of crisis. Greater emphasis on the local political and social context, to raise awareness 'within' the humanitarian sector and at all levels, was another gap identified in the training materials. To this end, both research and interview findings indicated that agencies fail to adequately engage with the beneficiary community to a large extent and with the host state to a lesser extent, although the cluster approach being implemented by the UN and involving the broader humanitarian community alongside government representatives is viewed as a positive step in building relationships with the latter. It was largely felt that "agencies should be more transparent in the work with government and be much clearer about why they are there in the first place: who asked them to intervene?" (Senior Humanitarian Executive). This echoes the findings of Donini et al, who highlighted that greater effort should be dedicated to public information campaigns (2008: 21); and it is especially worth reminding all stakeholders that agencies operate only by invitation from the host state. Finally, both research and interviews confirmed that the work of humanitarian agencies was overly politicised, potentially contributing to humanitarian personnel being considered as worthy targets by terrorist groups. Although, it was felt that greater transparency in the work objectives and the mandate of organisations might effectively dispel some of this effect. In identifying the threat level that host state and agencies are currently facing in securing the safety of humanitarian personnel, research undertaken, especially by Stoddard et al, seems to establish that the threat of certain 'terrorist' activities had increased over the past decade. This was also reflected in the perception of the survey participants, 77% of which felt the security environment had deteriorated since 2001. Although it was broadly acknowledged that traffic related accidents present the greatest risk, it is interesting to note that many of the senior personnel interviewed did not feel the threat of terrorism differed from the past. However, even when assigned to highly insecure locations, the most senior personnel tend to be based from the capital city, where government control mechanisms are intensified as are agency fortifications, and even though some of the most dramatic attacks have taken place in these capitals, perhaps the level of exposure 'perceived' is dulled, as opposed to staff operating in isolated locations where agency and host state assistance can be next to non-existent.

Summary 2

The majority of survey participants expressed an awareness of working in hostile environments, where they expected extremists might be active, which is in-keeping with the practice of delivering aid to 'highly' insecure states. This also confirms the opinion of one senior independent consultant who expressed that humanitarian personnel anticipate a level of risk associated with the work and locale to which they are assigned. This 'desensitisation' may also explain why the most experienced humanitarian professionals did not perceive an alteration in the threat level. However, the SRM of agencies working cooperatively with host states goes beyond merely identifying the threat, which has been acknowledged in the annual UN Safety and Security of Humanitarian Personnel reports, rather it must go some way to mitigating the risk, and there are doubts held by some that the current framework adequately provides such an opportunity. The documented framework, whilst robust in the sheer volume of subjects to be covered in establishing agreed relations between any given agency and host state, is in other respects, vague and ambiguous. Whilst it is appreciated that certain documents, such as MoUs establish beneficial levels of understanding between parties, especially in mores stable environments where governments exercise effective control, the impact they have on the implementation of programs, including security arrangements, in insecure environments is disputed. For example, whilst the UN Convention on the Safety of UN and Associated Personnel clearly reiterates the state as having primary responsibility for the security of humanitarian personnel, the resources dedicated internally by agencies towards this end, instead reflects that the state is considered a 'provider of last resort'. Additionally, agencies can not legally transfer the duty of care owed to securing the safety of their personnel which is evidenced by the insurance policies universally employed as a further protection mechanism. The Convention also provides the framework for prosecution of perpetrators within the jurisdiction of host states, which has the potential to act as a deterrent when implemented to the full force of the law. However, whilst survey participants generally reflected positively on the level of collaboration and cooperation between states and agency, there was a vast difference in their attitude towards the host state's capacity to practically provide security support. More than half of the respondents indicated that they did not feel adequately protected by the state security apparatus. Further, senior personnel reiterated the difference between the goals of agencies as opposed to states, and that it was necessary to remain independent and impartial in this regard, so as not to give the impression of being co-opted by a political agenda. This confusion of roles, of needing to be integrally connected and yet remain separate is also reflected in the perceptions of surveyed participants with respect to who they hold responsible for their safety and security. It is entirely probable that the roles and responsibilities of the agency, as opposed to the host state, are not clear to either humanitarian personnel or beneficiaries. The results of the survey show that 44% believe the host state, agency and the individual are collectively responsible for the safety and security of humanitarian personnel, whereas 32% felt the individual was ultimately responsible and a further 22% exempted the state of any responsibility, instead perceiving that only the agency and the individual had a role. Thus humanitarian personnel largely feel that they are held accountable for their own security and protection. (UN FSH, 2006:4-2, 4.8). Whilst in reality, all three play a part in an emergency response; it is entirely possible that the state is exonerated by 54% due to a perceived lack of capacity to fulfil their responsibilities to this end. Although the state may offer more support than is being perceived, perhaps visibility and awareness levels both need to be raised subject to resources, stability, capacity and control (Athisaar, 2008:10). Where the framework provides an important foundation, far more concrete and practical measures are required by host state and agency to protect personnel from the threat of terrorist acts. In this regard it is abundantly clear that no single method is full-proof, rather consultation and collaboration between law enforcement agencies, humanitarian agencies and key government officials is required to accurately identify terrorist risks; SRM strategies ideally would include all parties as a more substantial means of prevention; and most importantly, adequate resources including funding would need to be assured. Recalling that the correspondence issued by Sir David Veness, (Annex A), was the motivation for the research, it is clear that the restricted level of government support available to the humanitarian community remains of great concern, which was reiterated in the Brahimi report where a distinct lack of support from the Government of Algeria was identified as a contributing factor to the terrorist attack against the UN. Since there is no possibility of 'total security' (Brahimi: 2008:7), with respect to SRM and mitigation of the terrorist threat to humanitarian personnel, there are 3 elements in which the host states and agencies must take a harmonised approach: in the identification of the risk, the implementation of agreed 'control' and contingency mechanisms to minimise the risk, and to achieve these ends at an acceptable cost level. In identifying the places associated as having the highest safety risk to humanitarian personnel, the top four locations chosen by survey respondents were all public areas: hotel accommodation, transport systems, shopping districts and city centres. Reflecting the documented relationships between host states and agencies, these are all zones the state has primary responsibility to secure, however the more 'insecure' the state, the higher the likelihood that the government lacks the capacity and the resources to provide any level of protection to speak of. Given the small percentage of operational costs dedicated to safety and security in humanitarian operations, even those with UN DPKO support, agencies are not able to fill the security deficit and rather restrict access to zones perceived as having a high risk level as a means of mitigation. The unfortunate truth of the matter is that there is a massive gap between the documented framework and the intended relationship between host state and agency in providing security for humanitarian personnel, and the resources available to deliver SMS in accordance with international law, national law, MoUs, and security guidelines. This sentiment was succinctly expressed by one Senior Security Manager: The UN relies too much on host government support without accurately determining the leadership's motives and the resources available to it to effectively meet its 'obligations' to protect. In many cases, this is an expedient to absolve the correct allocation of resources. In the majority of cases, a heavy UN presence connotes government's lack of capacity to provide the necessary security support On the other hand the government for political or other reasons might not be pre-disposed to provide the required protection Strategic level assessment of the country should be carried out to determine the level of UN security support required


To complete this thought, it is worth adding that once the level of support is determined, adequate resources must be allocated to this end by humanitarian agencies. Of equal importance, especially where there is a limited state security apparatus, is the need to maintain open and transparent lines of communication between agencies and host states which may be of integral importance in delivering a secure operational environment in making a judgement about which areas are 'safe' to access. Although this can have the negative effect of shrinking the humanitarian space, where there are no other security controls, this is the sacrifice that must be made to guarantee greater safety, especially since humanitarian agencies are extremely hesitant to use armed escorts. Given, the survey was mostly completed by security professionals, it is hardly surprising more than two-thirds felt this trend should be reversed to enhance security. However, where agencies take a decision to operate in high risk areas, and the host state evidently can only provide security 'to the best of its ability' (Brahimi, 2008:10) internal humanitarian agency trigger mechanisms designed to limit the exposure of SMs to threats, become of paramount importance. As a final point on this matter, the UN Chief Executive Board for Coordination in support of the High Level Committee on Management of Safety and Security have recently encouraged a 'how to stay' approach to security management as opposed to the established mode of 'when to leave' (UN CEB, 2009:2) bearing in mind this draft initiative is yet to be formally ratified, it is doctrine that should be exercised with caution in highly insecure areas. In terms of enhanced support to beneficiaries this is an important cultural shift, however, there are several important features that must first be in place to support this undertaking: adequate security frameworks are implemented, there is adequate budgetary funding to support the security framework, and the funding is sufficient to support additional measures when this approach is activated to maintain access in the face of a deteriorating security environment. Otherwise, where political imperatives are permitted to dictate SRM protocols, agencies are not satisfying their 'duty of care' to secure the safety of humanitarian personnel. Whilst it is a relatively simple matter to pass comment on a suggested policy such as the recent CEB strategy, the many aforementioned conclusions drawn from the survey and interviews should be treated with caution, especially since they a framed upon peoples perceptions of the terrorist threat to humanitarian personnel and the relationships between states and agencies as a contributor to mitigating this risk. It is important to recall that there will be deficiencies in any research design, and as Burgess states; "Once an assessment has been made of the contribution that a particular study makes to knowledge, some gaps that still exist become identifiable. In turn these gaps may give rise to further questions that will generate further investigations. Some consideration can then be given to the design of further investigations and the ways in which the problems encountered in the study under review might be overcome." (Burgess, 1984: 217) The study has provided a very general snapshot of a certain threat to the security of humanitarian personnel in the field; however, the situation varies tremendously from state to state, making this a highly contextual proposition. The study may therefore have benefited by concentrating on several specific countries, with varying levels of insecurity to better understand the variances in state and agency relationships. Indeed the threat of terrorist attacks may only exist, at a concerning level, in a relatively small portion of states where there is a significant humanitarian presence. By extension, the locations in which the survey and interview participants have worked could have been cross-referenced against their responses to ascertain how this influenced their perceptions of the risk-level. There are also statistical limitations revealed in this study. The findings from the research were simply compared by examining response percentages. Although this provides a useful means of comparing and understanding the majority opinion, there are also some drawbacks. Analysis using Statistical Predictive System Software (SPSS) may have provided further insight to the 'strengths' of responses. In addition, it may have identified particular correlations existing in the data, which could have provided an opportunity to analyse whether personnel operating in 'highly insecure' areas are actually at a greater risk of danger from terrorism, as opposed to their perception of the risk-level. Especially considering, there are likely to be more stringent security protocols operating in such locations. Finally, whilst the survey and interviews captured the opinions of a broad cross-section of humanitarian staff working for various agencies, including a few key senior personnel, it would have been more useful to gain greater participation from government officials, who proved more difficult to access and less cooperative. Ultimately, only 6% of survey participants represented the government sector, and although a few key officials were approached to take part in the interview process, none could be reached in the timeframe available. Therefore, valuable 'mirrored' feedback is missing from the government side. Ultimately it must be appreciated that government representatives might feel less comfortable to take part in such research, especially where there are concerns that the result could have a detrimental impact upon already delicate relationships between governments and agencies. However it has still been possible to draw valuable recommendations from the research, and where these may not be original in content, it draws even greater attention to the fact that the most obvious and imperative initiatives are still being largely ignored by states and agencies, to the detriment of staff safety and security