In July 2015, Kristin Bergtora Sandvik, Senior Researcher at PRIO/NCHS, attended a 3-day Policy Forum on Humanitarian UAVs, organized by The Humanitarian UAV Network (UAViators). The Forum, sponsored and hosted by the Rockefeller Foundation at their conference center in Bellagio, Italy, brought together a cross-section of experts and was convened with the purpose of drafting guidelines for the safe, coordinated and effective use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAVs) in humanitarian settings. Building upon the identified priority areas during the 2014 UAViators Experts Meeting, additional guidelines were drafted and focused on five notably absent elements: 1) Code of Conduct; 2) Data Ethics; 3) Community Engagement; 4) Principled Partnerships; and 5) Conflict Sensitivity.
After receiving institutional feedback from the organizations that were represented in Bellagio, the draft guidelines will be further reviewed in October at the 2015 Humanitarian UAV Experts Meeting. A final version of the guidelines is expected to be launched at the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016 and will serve to promote safe, coordinated, accountable and effective use of UAVs and emerging technologies in humanitarian settings.
While there is still a lot of learning and documenting to be done as the evidence base for the added value of UAVs in humanitarian missions is still thin, PRIO and NCHS participation at the Forum in Bellagio demonstrates the importance of joint and sustained initiatives aiming at positively guiding the impact of future and innovative humanitarian efforts.
More about the Policy Forum on Humanitarian UAVs can be read here.