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.


Alexander Betts Alexander Betts is Director of the Refugee Studies Centre and Leopold Muller Associate Professor in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies, at the University of Oxford. His research is on the international politics of refugees and humanitarianism, with a geographical focus on Sub-Saharan Africa. He is author or editor of numerous books, including Forced Migration and Global Politics (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), Protection by Persuasion: International Cooperation in the Refugee Regime (Cornell University Press, 2009), Refugees in International Relations (Oxford University Press, 2010). Global Migration Governance (Oxford University Press, 2011), UNHCR: The Politics and Practice of Refugee Protection (Routledge, 2012), Survival Migration: Failed Governance and the Crisis of Displacement (Cornell University Press, 2013), and Implementation in World Politics: How International Norms Change Practice (Oxford University Press, 2014). He is author of many articles, book chapters and working papers and his work has appeared in a range of peer reviewed journals including Global Governance, Perspectives on Politics, Journal of Refugee Studies, International Journal of Refugee Law, and Refugee Survey Quarterly. He has worked for UNHCR and as a consultant to the Council of Europe, UNDP, UNICEF, IOM, OCHA, and the Commonwealth Secretariat, and his work has been funded by, amongst others, the MacArthur Foundation, the Leverhulme Trust, and the Economic and Social Research Council. He sits on UNHCR's "i Circle" and is a member of the World Humanitarian Summit's Thematic Working Group on Transformation Through Innovation. He is founding Director of the Humanitarian Innovation Project.
Kim Scriven Kim Scriven is Manager of the Humanitarian Innovation Fund (HIF), a unique facility supporting the development and testing of innovations in international humanitarian action. Kim is responsible for the development and management of the fund, and oversees both its grant making processes and innovation management work. Kim has been a longstanding advocate for increased investment in innovation by the humanitarian system, previously working within the Secretariat of the Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action (ALNAP), where his work focused on supporting innovation in humanitarian organisations, and promoting learning around innovation. Kim’s other research interests at ALNAP included the role of networks and the changing relationship between humanitarian actors and the affected state. Previously, Kim worked within the Humanitarian Advocacy Team at Oxfam GB. He has a BA in International Relations from the University of Sussex and MA in Peacekeeping Management from the University of Turin.
Rob Beyer Rob Beyer brings a unique combination of seasoned experience in business and social entrepreneurship, education and technology. Rob has lived in Kenya for the past 12 years and is aware of the unique challenges that Kenyans face building sustainable enterprises within the East African context. His passion is to create space for innovative and entrepreneurial Kenyans to explore creative opportunities to build social enterprises that positively impact the lives of the poor. As Executive Chairman of Villgro Kenya, Rob has led the replication of the successful Villgro Innovations model of India into Kenya while supporting the pipeline of 50 health innovators who are part of the Grand Challenges Canada - Stars in Global Health initiative. Prior to working in Kenya, Rob was an entrepreneur who began a successful technology consulting company in Canada, specializing in implementing IT infrastructure projects within the financial, pharmaceutical & communication industries. Rob holds a MA in Leadership (Business & Entrepreneurship) and MSc. In Business Information Technology.
Pascal Daudin Pascal Daudin is Senior Advisor in the Division of Multilateral Organisations, Policy and Humanitarian Action of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Pascal held senior positions with the ICRC in Geneva and various field locations, including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon between 1985 and 2003. Before returning to the ICRC in 2011, he was the Global Safety and Security Director with CARE International and, prior to that, the Deputy Head of the Counter-Terrorism Unit in the Swiss Department of Defence.

Event host

Angharad Laing Angharad Laing Executive Director, International Association of Professionals in Humanitarian Assistance and Protection (PHAP)


Event recording (YouTube - faster loading time)

Event recording (Adobe Connect - higher quality)

Event recording (downloadable audio podcast)

Event report

Event supported by

This World Humanitarian Summit consultation event is made possible with the support of the Federal Foreign Office of Germany