World Humanitarian Summit live online consultation: Principles for Ethical Humanitarian Innovation

Ongoing course
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On 8 July 2015, PHAP hosted a combined online learning session on Humanitarian Innovation and a live online consultation event on the draft Principles for Ethical Humanitarian Innovation, organized in support of the World Humanitarian Summit.

The consultation event featured:

  • A brief presentation of the draft Principles for Ethical Humanitarian Innovation by Alexander Betts, Director of the Refugee Studies Centre, and Leopold Muller, Associate Professor in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies, University of Oxford.
  • A panel discussion focusing in turn on each of the seven draft principles.
  • An opportunity for participants to provide their input and perspectives on the draft principles.
  • The possibility for registrants to submit input on the draft principles in writing prior to the event.

To read more about the introductory learning session that preceded the consultation event, please visit its event page.

Event description

Each stage of the humanitarian innovation process involves a range of ethical questions and potential dilemmas. Of primary concern are the vulnerable populations and affected communities that are the focus of humanitarian work, and the power imbalances inherent within this provider/recipient relationship.

As humanitarian innovation introduces new actors, increasingly complex products and processes, and experimentation to the sector it is crucial that it is governed by strong ethics. This is necessary both to guide everyday decision-making and to avoid serious harm.

Until now, there have been no authoritative principles specifically relating to ethical humanitarian innovation. Existing ‘principles’ (e.g. UN Innovation Network Principles for Innovation in Humanitarian and Disaster Response) in the area relate more to innovation management than to ethics.

A set of principles was drafted based on an initial World Humanitarian Summit workshop convened at the University of Oxford on 27 April 2015 by the Humanitarian Innovation Project based at the Refugee Studies Centre. The workshop included the participation of ICRC, UNHCR, UNICEF, OCHA, the World Humanitarian Summit secretariat, DFID, Save the Children, the Humanitarian Innovation Fund, the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, as well as a range of academics with expertise in areas such as medical ethics, business ethics, humanitarian ethics, innovation management, and humanitarian practice.

This live online consultation event used these draft principles as a starting point for gathering further input from both panelists and event participants on both their formulation as well as their operational relevance.

Watch or listen to a recording of this event

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