What is ‘humanitarian communication’? Towards standard definitions and protections for the humanitarian use of ICTs

Published: October 9, 2015 | By al Achkar, Z., Card, B. and Raymond, N. | EISF publication

Information communication technologies (ICTs) are increasingly becoming a defining component of twenty-first century humanitarian response operations during both natural disasters and armed conflict. ICTs have changed how information is communicated and received during crises. It may even be changing how some crises occur and unfold. Yet, despite this transformative impact, there is no accepted definition of what constitutes ‘humanitarian communication’, nor what defines the ‘humanitarian use of ICTs’ and its protection under international law.

The goal of this paper is to frame three critical questions that may help to address the pedagogical gap facing the humanitarian sector in this area:

  1. What should be the basis for defining ‘humanitarian communication’?
  2. How do definitions of ‘humanitarian space’ need to change to include current humanitarian uses
    of ICTs?
  3. How should internationally protected acts of ‘humanitarian communication’ be defined and by what standards are they protected?



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