Signal Code: Ethical Obligations for Humanitarian Information Activities

Stuart R. Campo, Caitlin N. Howarth, Nathaniel A. Raymond, Daniel P. Scarnecchia
Published: 
May 2018

Humanitarians today lack sufficient ethical guidance adapted to the realities of humanitarianism in the information age to responsibly navigate the challenges and realities of the digital age.

The Signal Code: Ethical Obligations for Humanitarian Information Activities translates and applies the foundational sources of ethical humanitarian practice to humanitarian information activities, such as mobile devices, WiFi provision, data collection, storage and analysis, and biometric registration tools. This document represents the first effort to provide humanitarian practitioners and researchers with comprehensive ethical guidance for this increasingly commonplace and critical area of humanitarian practice.

The Obligations builds upon the rights-based approach first articulated in the January 2017 publication of The Signal Code: A Human Rights Approach to Information during Crisis. The Code seeks to identify extant international humanitarian and human rights law and standards, as well as other relevant and accepted international instruments, that provide all people basic rights pertaining to the access to, and provision and treatment of, information during a crisis. The first volume of the Code is employed as an underlying framework for how the Obligations is structured and from where the obligations are, in part, derived.

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