Sandvik, Jacobsen and McDonald publish new article in International Review of the Red Cross

In their newly published article Do no harm: A taxonomy of the challenges of humanitarian experimentation in the International Review of the Red Cross, Kristin Bergtora Sandvik (PRIO/UiO), Katja Lindskov Jacobsen (University of Copenhagen) and Sean Martin McDonald (FrontlineSMS) explore the notion of ‘humanitarian experimentation’. Whether through innovation or uncertain contexts, managing risk is a core component of the humanitarian initiative – but, as they note, not all risk is created equal. There is a stark ethical and practical difference between managing risk and introducing it, which is mitigated in other fields through experimentation and regulation. This article identifies and historically contextualizes the concept of humanitarian experimentation, which is increasingly prescient, as a range of humanitarian sub-fields embark on projects of digitization and privatization. This trend is illustrated in their article through three contemporary examples of humanitarian innovation (biometrics, data modeling, cargo drones), with reference to critical questions about adherence to the humanitarian ‘do no harm’ imperative. This article outlines a broad taxonomy of harms, intended to serve as the starting point for a more comprehensive conversation about humanitarian action and the ethics of experimentation.
You can access the article here.