Publications

I've written on a range of topics ranging from international relations, aid, leadership and management. Here's a selection of some of my publications.
 

The professional humanitarian and the downsides of professionalisation. Disasters, Volume 40, Issue 2, April 2016, Pages 185–206, DOI: 10.1111/disa.12140

 

Abstract: Criticisms lodged at humanitarian relief often include the belief that professionalisation is needed. The problems associated with humanitarianism would end, it is assumed, if the delivery of aid, and relief workers themselves, were more professional and ‘business like’. To explore this further, the paper asks what comprises a profession, and offers four criteria: 1) specialisation of knowledge; 2) establishment of the profession as a livelihood; 3) organisation and institutionalisation; and 4) legitimacy and authority. A model for understanding professionalisation, as developed by the author, is then presented. The analysis compares six other professions against the same criteria to argue that the humanitarian community already constitutes a profession. Finally, three potential downsides of professionalisation are offered: the distance of the relief worker from the beneficiary, barriers to entry into the humanitarian sector, and adding to risk aversion and a decline in innovation. Based on these findings, professionalisation should be approached with some caution.

Shrinking the Supply Chain: Hyperlocal Manufacturing and 3D printing in Humanitarian Response. United Nations Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Occasional Policy Papers, Policies and Studies Series, July 2015 | 014 (Primary author)

Abstract:  The cost of humanitarian aid has increased dramatically in recent years, with an estimated 60 to 80 per cent spent on logistics. As demand for humanitarian assistance rises, the sector’s dependence on complex international supply chains presents many challenges. They include sudden and unpredictable spikes in demand; hard-to-reach locations; disruptions due to conflict or disasters; and normal supply-chain problems of leakage, spoilage and other losses. There is an opportunity for new technology or strategies to simultaneously reduce reliance on  complex international supply chains, empower local markets, and provide tailored goods and products by producing them at the “hyperlocal” level. These technologies include high-tech applications, such as three-dimensional (3D) printing, and low-tech solutions, such as producing goods from recycled and local materials. Many of these technologies are only just beginning to be used in humanitarian response. But existing pilot projects indicate great potential, particularly in the areas of specialized items and prototyping, combined with the ever-increasing availability and affordability of the technology.

Media, genocide and international response: another look at Rwanda. Journal of Small Wars and Insurgencies, Volume 19, 2008, Issue 1, April 2016, Pages 89-115, DOI: 10.1080

Abstract: This analytical article asks the question: to what degree did the media contribute to the Rwandan genocide and what might have been done about it? In examining the historical development of mass media in Rwanda, this paper argues that while hate media clearly contributed to the dynamics that led to genocide, its role should not be overstated. While it is commonly believed that hate media was a major cause of the genocide, instead it was a part of a larger social process. The use of violent discourse was at least as important as, for example, the availability of weapons in carrying out the genocide. Put another way, violent discourse was necessary but not sufficient by itself to cause the genocide of 1994. In arguing this thesis, Rwandan history is examined to demonstrate the processes of communication in the formation of destructive attitudes and behaviour. Next, analysis of the methods and content of propaganda campaigns is discussed. Finally, an overview of the requirements and organizations for third parties to conduct international communication interventions is presented in the last section.