Keynote: Dorothea Hilhorst

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.

Professor Hilhorst opened the IS Academy Final Conference by outlining the structure and objective of the IS Academy. The IS Academy is a broader collaboration between NGOs, several universities and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the objective to better understand the processes of socio-economic recovery and the roles of formal and informal institutions in conditions of state fragility.

Dorothea Hilhorst then introduced the notion of ‘social embeddedness’, which has been a key term for research carried out. Furthermore, she outlined the main topics of the IS Academy, which she termed

  1. Where do people find human security
  2. Legacies of violence: change and continuity
  3. Supporting recovery: mismatches between aid and people
  4. Entrepreneurship, trade and economic change
  5. Hazards and fragility

She ended with a threefold conclusion:

  • There is the need to incorporate insights on social embeddedness more systematically in context-specific policies and aid interventions,
  • To enable context-specific and adaptive programming, more investments are needed in research and monitoring to accompany interventions and gain a better understanding of what is really happening,
  • This underlines the importance of initiatives like the IS academies, to form learning communities among policy makers, practitioners and researchers.

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  • James Male Kiwalabye from Uganda

    Good insights from Prof. Dorothea.
    Its really disturbing to find that most of the causes are due to human behaviors and selfish interests by leaders. Is there a way you can link the work of the IS Academy to UN processes ? UN agencies and interventions at times are taken up by events not well researched. More resources are spent on emergencies and reconstruction in Africa than on governance and democratic engagements. Good global ideas and institutions are at times place din hands of wrong people( Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe- Chair of African Union etc)
    The Academy will need to find a collaborative approach with UN agencies especially UNHCR and see what research can do to help. Some of the issues for example like land, tribes, resources etc are neglected and only to intervene with ambulances.

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