Military-Humanitarian Innovation

Exploring the process of knowledge creation, diffusion, and exchange between the humanitarian and military communities.

  • Indonesian Military personnel work together to unload an SH-60B Seahawk helicopter, assigned to the ‘Saberhawks’ of Anti-Submarine Squadron

    Indonesian Military personnel work together to unload an SH-60B Seahawk helicopter, assigned to the ‘Saberhawks’ of Anti-Submarine Squadron

    U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Tyler J. Clements

The military has de facto become one of the largest ‘humanitarian’ actors.

Research and development spending in the military leads to outputs that are increasingly used for humanitarian applications, and it is present in conflict zones and humanitarian spaces around the world. Yet, mutual  suspicion and misunderstanding often lead to sub-optimal outcomes. This sub-project has therefore begun to explore questions relating to knowledge creation, diffusion, and exchange between both communities. How do aid workers learn, adapt, and ‘rebrand’ military innovations for civilian use, and to what degree are military actors adapting humanitarian concepts and practices for their own use? What sensitivities, risks, and dilemmas do such interactions pose for humanitarian practice, principles and, ultimately, the lives of crisis-affected communities? In the past year, the project has explored military-humanitarian knowledge diffusion and exchange in areas such as networked technologies, remote sensing, and risk management approaches used in humanitarian natural disaster response. It has also explored the interplay of knowledge exchange between military and humanitarian medicine and public health in the wake of the Ebola response, as well as ‘bottom-up’ perspectives towards civil-military coordination amongst affected and beneficiary communities themselves.

To find out more about this sub-project contact Dr. Josiah Kaplan.

"Humanitarian practitioners have long been suspicious of the military. However the reality is that every year the United States military alone spends around a trillion dollars on R&D leading to innovation with significant humanitarian spin-offs. There is a need for better quality dialogue."

PROFESSOR ALEXANDER BETTS
Director of the Refugee Studies Centre