Risks and responsibilities in the digital transformation of humanitarian action

Digital technologies like mobiles, biometric devices, wearables, drones, big data and AI carry significant potential for enhancing the capacity of humanitarian agencies and the efficacy of humanitarian assistance. Yet, the reliance on digital systems and data in humanitarian crises also involves substantial risks.

What are the risks of digital technologies in humanitarian action and what responsibilities are attached? How do humanitarian agencies and donors manage these risks?

These questions were explored by a range of researchers involved in the “Do no harm: Ethical humanitarian innovation and digital bodies” research project at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO).

Listen to the discussion on the NCHS Talking Humanitarianism podcast below and on Spotify, Apple and Anchor.


Kristoffer Lidén is a Senior Researcher at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) and the Norwegian Centre for Humanitarian Studies (NCHS).

Kristin Bergtora Sandvik is Research Professor at PRIO and a Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Oslo.

Ben Hayes is the Strategy Director at AWO Agency and collaborator with PRIO.

Larissa Fast is Professor of Humanitarian and Conflict Studies and Director of the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute at the University of Manchester. She is also a PRIO Global Fellow.

Katja Lindskov Jacobsen is a Senior Researcher at the Centre for Military Studies at the University of Copenhagen.

Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert is Senior Researcher at PRIO and the Co-Director of the NCHS.

Held on 19 June 2023, this is the fifth in a series of discussions on the ethics of humanitarian action. The series is initiated by PRIO and the NCHS in collaboration with the Institute for International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict (IFHV) and the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict (ELAC). It relates to the project “Red lines and grey zones: Exploring the ethics of humanitarian negotiations,” led by Kristoffer Lidén at PRIO.