Professor Sir Michael Aaronson
Professorial Research Fellow
Phone: Work: 01483 68 3130
Room no: 15 AC 05
By appointment - requests to email@example.com
From 1995-2005 Mike was Director General (chief executive) of Save the Children UK, and from 1988-1995 was the charity’s Overseas Director. He first joined Save the Children in 1969, spending two years as a relief worker in Nigeria after reading philosophy and psychology at St John’s College, Oxford. Between 1972 and 1988 he held various posts in the UK Diplomatic Service, serving in London, Paris, Lagos, and Rangoon.
From 2007-2012 he was a Civil Service Commissioner, appointed by the Crown to maintain the principle of fair and open recruitment to the UK Civil Service. Since 2006 he has been Chairman of Frimley Park Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, and a non-executive director of Oxford Policy Management Limited, a development consultancy firm based in Oxford.
Mike is a founder member, and from 2001-2008 was Chair of the Board, of the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, a Geneva-based private foundation working to improve the international response to conflict, in particular through independent mediation. From 2001-2007 he was a Governor of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy in London, a non-departmental public body working to strengthen democracy in Africa, the Middle East, and the countries of the former Soviet Union; he was Vice Chair from 2005-2007. From 2004-2012 Mike was a Visiting Fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford, where he is now an Honorary Fellow.
In September 2008 he was appointed an Honorary Visiting Professor and in May 2011 a Professorial Research Fellow in the Department of Politics at the University of Surrey, where he is also Executive Director of cii - the Centre for International Intervention. He is an occasional Senior Adviser to NATO, working on the political/military aspects of NATO transformation, and an occasional lecturer at the UK Defence Academy on civil/military collaboration in conflict situations.
In January 2000 Mike was made a CBE and in June 2006 he was made a Knight Bachelor for services to children. In July 2011 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Surrey.
Mike has helped introduce two modules for MA students at Surrey on: “The Politics of International Intervention”. These examine why and how states intervene in the affairs of other states, the international instruments they create to facilitate and regulate this, the consequences of their intervention on international society, and how society might approach intervention differently in future.
He is interested in developing a cross-disciplinary approach to these matters, involving colleagues from, for example, international relations, law, economics, sociology, anthropology, refugee studies and forced migration, security studies, and development studies. He is also interested in improving the interface between academics and practitioners and enhancing their joint impact on public policy concerning international intervention.
In July 2012 Mike co-organised an international, multi-disciplinary, workshop funded by the Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS) at Surrey, with the title of "Hitting the Target?" This explored ways in which new technologies are reshaping international intervention and the wider impact of technology on society and behaviour. Full details of the workshop can be found on the IAS website at: http://www.ias.surrey.ac.uk/workshops/intervention/report.php
Following this workshop and in collaboration with the Royal United Services Institute - RUSI - a collection of short papers was published as RUSI Whitehall Report 2-13, available at: http://www.rusi.org/publications/whitehallreports/ref:O51509D843E399/ The report was launched at an event at RUSI on 26 March 2013; details available at: http://www.rusi.org/events/ref:E511BB3D16FB0F/#.UXj0XcqDl8E Further collaboration underway on this theme includes an edited volume currently in preparation.
- 'Interventions: A Life in War and Peace'. Taylor & Francis The RUSI Journal, 158 (1), pp. 80-81. . (2013)
- 'An Outsider’s View on the Civil-Military Nexus in Afghanistan'. Taylor & Francis RUSI JOURNAL - Occasional Paper, , pp. 10-19.Full text is available at: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/319247/
NATO has taken on a massively complex task in Afghanistan, of which winning the war against the Taliban is only one element. Recognition of this has led to a push for an ‘integrated’ approach involving relief, reconstruction, and development, as well as military activity. This is not as easy as it sounds. Development can only take place where the rule of law is respected and people have confidence in the ability of government to protect their interests. Neither applies in current day Afghanistan; the Government is weak, especially outside Kabul, and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has been left filling the vacuum. In turn, this leads to unrealistic expectations of non-NATO civilian actors, which they cannot meet. More could be done if people talked to each other better, understood the limitations and constraints of each others’ approaches, committed the right level of resources and the right calibre of people, and combined to help drive improved performance from the Afghan government and its agencies.
- 'A holistic approach to the war on terror?'. Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (hd) Opinion, , pp. 1-13.Full text is available at: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/713935/
- '"Hitting the Target?" How New Capabilities Are Shaping Contemporary International Intervention'. Guildford, Surrey : Institute of Advanced Studies, University of Surrey University of Surrey, UK: . (2012)
- 'Libya: Did We Have a Choice?'. Political Studies Association London, UK: 61st Annual International Conference of the Political Studies Association. Transforming Politics: New Synergies.Full text is available at: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/713936/
In this lecture I want to explore how it was that the UK became committed so quickly to military intervention in Libya following the outbreak of protests against the Gaddafi regime - and specifically to the removal of Gaddafi himself - given that as a nation we are still embroiled in Afghanistan and licking our wounds over Iraq. I will attempt some possible explanations, and suggest areas for further research at the interface between UK foreign and domestic policy. I make clear at the outset that I am no expert on Libya; I speak rather as someone who has witnessed a great deal of international intervention in a variety of forms over many years, and who believes that we need a much greater focus on ourselves as interveners if we are to understand intervention properly and do it better in future.
- 'International NGOs and International Development Assistance: What They Can and Cannot Contribute to Combating Terrorism'. in Tsang S (ed.) Combating Transnational Terrorism. Searching for a new paradigm
Santa Barbara, California : Praeger, ABC-CLIO Full text is available at: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/235559/
In this chapter I argue that much recent thinking about the links between ‘development’ and combating terrorism has been misguided and that the response to both poverty and terrorism has suffered as a result. At the conceptual level there is a potential clash between altruism and self-interest; whereas the purpose of development work is to secure human rights and justice for all people for altruistic reasons, counter-terrorism is usually framed in terms of self-defense and self-interest. There is also a moral deficit: Western governments pay more attention to the development needs of states seen as posing a global security threat than to those where human suffering is greatest, and the absence of a consistent foreign policy approach to issues of poverty and conflict undermines the authority of the West’s interventions. At the practical level, the role of ‘development’ in combating terrorism is almost certainly overplayed. Poor people do not necessarily become terrorists, although poverty and – especially – injustice provide the narrative that leaders of terrorist organizations use to justify their activity. Successful action to combat terrorism requires us to acknowledge people’s grievances and legitimate aspirations to a better life, and give some hope that these can be met, as well as to insist robustly on the rule of law. This should include a determined effort to engage armed groups in political processes rather than allow them to fall back on extremist tactics. Instead, the current policy preference is for the diversion of aid funds into military budgets, in the misguided belief that this will help win the ‘war on terror’; this option also reflects the difficulties faced by donor governments struggling to reconcile their nominally altruistic development goals with their more self-interested security concerns. For all these reasons international NGOs and other independent development actors have of necessity to keep their distance from official action by governments to combat terrorism and even official development agencies struggle to define their role as part of a ‘comprehensive approach’. I argue that governments can help to close this gap by adopting a broader concept of self-interest, based on the recognition that security is an entitlement of rich and poor people alike. Terrorist activity damages the poor as much as the rich (if not more so) but perceived injustice and the unaddressed grievances of the poor and marginalized – exacerbated by th
- Introduction. in (ed.) Hitting the Target? How New Capabilities are Shaping International Intervention Whitehall, London, UK : The Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies Article number Whitehall Reports 2-13 , pp. 1-6. . (2013)
- Hitting the Target? How New Capabilities are Shaping International Intervention. in (ed.) Whitehall Report 2-13 Whitehall, London, UK : The Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI) . (2013)
- Conclusion. in (ed.) Hitting the Target? How New Capabilities are Shaping International Intervention Whitehall, London, UK : The Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies Article number Whitehall Report 2-13 , pp. 113-120. . (2013)