This article discusses the policy of absolute secrecy on abductions adopted by aid organisations. It argues that the information blackout on past and current cases is to a large extent a function of the growing role of private security companies in the aid sector, which promote a ‘pay, don’t say’ policy as a default option, whatever the situation. The article contends that secrecy is as much an impediment to resolving current cases as it is to preventing and managing future ones. It suggests abandoning the policy of strict confidentiality in all circumstances – a policy that is as dangerous as it is easy to apply – in favour of a more nuanced and challenging approach determining how much to publicise ongoing and past cases for each audience, always keeping in mind the interests of current and potential hostages.
In "Saving Lives and Staying Alive: Humanitarian Security in the Age of Risk Management" Michaël Neuman and his colleague Fabrice Weissman analyze some of the drivers of professionalization in the context of humanitarian security and its subsequent impact on humanitarian practices through a collection of MSF case studies.
This review of Larissa Fast's " 'Aid in Danger'. The Perils and Promise of Humanitarianism" was published in the International Review of the Red Cross (Volume 96 / Issue 894)