Conference Report: "Facing Fragilities"

Published on
September 17, 2014

The conference "Facing Fragilities: people, aid and institutions in socio-economic recovery" was held on September 11, 2014 in the Royal Theatre in The Hague. With keynotes by Dorothea Hilhorst (WUR), Gary Milante (SIPRI) and a number of break-out sessions, the conference was a lively and inspiring event for the 175 participants.


In the first keynote, Professor Dorothea Hilhorst outlined the main findings of the IS Academy Human Security in Fragile States, and emphasised the notion of ‘social embeddedness’ as a major concept in studying how state and non-state institutions, economic institutions, livelihood strategies, and aid interventions are embedded in social relations.

The second keynote speaker, Dr Gary Milante discussed the challenges of overcoming research, practice and policy divides in tackling highly complex, multi-dimensional aspects of security and development in fragile and conflict-affected states.

8 break-out sessions

  1. Real people, real problems: Are aid interventions helping recovery?
  2. Targeting winners or losers? Policy choices around socio-economic development
  3. Levers of change: should we be looking more at elites?
  4. Co-creating knowledge in fragile settings. The power of interactive research
  5. Exploring 'the grain': understanding state/non-state ambiguity through art in Azawad/northern Mali
  6. Local communities and institutions: a social movements perspective
  7. Resilience in a fragile context: focus on the relief provider
  8. Friend or foe: representation of aid interventions in the media

Afternoon plenary

To liven the mood, comedian Bob MacLaren entertained the participants with amongst others some unusual takes on ‘local knowledge’. Issues raised in the morning and break-out sessions were then brought together in the afternoon plenary, 'Connecting the Dots', with Dr Ian Christoplos (Danish Institute for International Studies), Dr Dirk-Jan Koch (Search for Common Ground), and Dr Winnie Wairimu (IS Academy).


The event was closed by Mr Joost Andriessen of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who emphasised the relation between development and security, and the usefulness of IS Academy research for the Ministry’s understanding of for example the potential contribution of local actors.

IS Academy Human Security in Fragile States