Securitized Humanitarian Space? Interrogating NGO-military relations in the Bangsamoro (Philippines) theatre

Event details

PSC Seminar

Date & time

Tuesday 06 August 2019


PSC Reading Room 4.27, Hedley Bull Centre (130), Garran Road, ANU
ANU Canberra


Rosalie Hall, Professor University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV), Miagao, Iloilo, Philippines


Maxine McArthur

This seminar is co-sponsored with the CAP Philippines Project

In the last decades, the non-government organization (NGO) community in the Bangsamoro area has diversified and thrived owing largely to humanitarian imperatives brought about by intermittent clashes between government troops and rebel groups. Institutional gains from the peace processes between the national government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and support from international donors provided further impetus, creating fertile ground for NGOs engaged in development projects and peacebuilding initiatives. The military, long deployed in theatre, has also shifted gear towards less kinetic action and more engagements with civilian actors, in line with its recalibration of internal security strategies beginning 2010. Local NGO-military interface has taken on directions that require a rethink of the theoretical arguments about civil society role in exacting democratic civilian control of the armed forces (Croissant et al., 2010) and problematisation of the presumed divide between state (the military, as its agent) and civil society in a contested space (Bell et al., 2017; Ruffa and Vennesson, 2014).

The presentation outlines the nature and dynamics of localised NGO-military engagements in the Bangsamoro area drawing from previous works on the subject (Rood 2005; Toohey 2005; Medina 2016; Hall 2017) and from results of the ANU Philippines Project Collaborative Grant on the 2017 Marawi crisis. Local platforms and mechanisms are increasingly available for NGOs to work with and dialogue with co-located military units. Networks built amongst themselves and with partner-military units enabled NGOs to carry out activities. Heightened security threats, however, constrict this political space, giving less premium for NGO participation and influence in decision making which matters to the communities they represent. In these situations, the military defaults to assert its authority as state security agent and takes on independent humanitarian provisioning themselves in conjunction with their mission. Despite their number and diversity, NGOs in the Bangsamoro area have not been able to act as effective civilian control apparatus to local military units.

About the Speaker
Rosalie Arcala Hall, Ph.D. is Full Professor and Scientist at the University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV), Miagao, Iloilo, Philippines. She completed her Master’s degree in Political Science (1998) and PhD in International and Public Affairs (2002) at Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA on a Fulbright-Hayes scholarship. She held visiting researcher appointments at Meiji University, University of Innsbruck, Center for Strategic and International Studies (Indonesia), East West Center (Washington DC) and University of Vienna. She received grants from the Australian National University Philippines Project, Nippon Foundation Asian Public Intellectual Fellowships Program, Toyota Foundation Southeast Asian Research and Exchange Program, East Asian Development Network, Austrian Agency for International Cooperation in Education & Research, Asia Foundation and International IDEA. Among her research projects are: (1) the integration of former combatants and proxies into the army comparing the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and Falintil (East Timor) cases; (2) women in the Philippine army; (3) reintegration into society of Moro and communist ex-combatants; (4) US-Philippine military relations in the context of the antiterror war in Mindanao; (5) local security strategies in Bangsamoro zones; and (6) gender aspects of conflict, security and political party formation in the Bangsamoro area. She has published related articles in the Philippine Political Science Journal, Asian Security, Korean Journal of Defence Analysis and the Asia Pacific Social Science Review. Currently, she is the President of the Philippine Political Science Association and member of the Philippine Commission on Higher Education Technical Committee on Political Science.

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