Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Aid Securitisation: An analysis of Australian and New Zealand Aid Discourses, Allocations, and Institutions

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posted on 2023-07-24, 04:32 authored by Steel, Blake

There is a growing perception that aid discourses and allocations are favouring national and international security at the expense of social and sustainable development goals. This research explores the extent and features of such a shift in the cases of Australian and New Zealand aid to the Pacific Islands region across a decade and a half—a period characterised by increasing Chinese engagement. This research explores the process of securitisation of Australian and New Zealand aid at three distinct (but interconnected) levels: that of the securitisation of the aid discourse, its reflection in aid allocations, and the institutional structure of the respective aid agencies. I observe the evolution of development paradigms (social development, sustainable development, and security) in the aid discourse. This is done by means of content analysis of Australian and New Zealand key strategic aid documents. I also explore the shift in the aid budgets and allocations as well as changes in the institutional structure of Australia and New Zealand’s aid agencies.

Evidence of aid securitisation is found (to varying extents) in Australia and New Zealand aid discourses, allocations, and institutions. However, this trend is not homogeneous, showing the divergences between Australia and New Zealand’s aid approaches. Analysis of key strategic aid documents does not reveal clear evidence of aid securitisation at the discourse level, with the security paradigm only found to represent a minor part, while the social and sustainable development paradigms represent the dominant and subdominant parts of the aid discourse. As for aid allocations, Australia and New Zealand are found to be security driven donors, allocating aid to social and sustainable development goals, after recipients are chosen on geostrategic grounds, representing clear evidence of aid securitisation. Lastly, the mergers of aid agencies into their respective foreign affairs departments and shifts in aid focus also represent clear evidence of aid securitisation. What appears to have changed from 2005-2021 is that different emphasis has been given to different paradigms and motives. In that regard, shifts in international agreements and practices on aid, regional imperatives and domestic policies have had the greatest influence on Australia and New Zealand’s aid approaches.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

International Relations

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Arts

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

1 Pure basic research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations


Iati, Iati; Fraenkel, Jon