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Challenging Operations: An Ethical Framework to Assist Humanitarian Aid Workers in their Decision-making Processes


Clarinval, Caroline; Biller-Andorno, Nikola (2014). Challenging Operations: An Ethical Framework to Assist Humanitarian Aid Workers in their Decision-making Processes. PLoS Currents, 6:1-14.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION This paper aims to raise awareness regarding ethical issues in the context of humanitarian action, and to offer a framework for systematically and effectively addressing such issues. METHODS Several cases highlight ethical issues that humanitarian aid workers are confronted with at different levels over the course of their deployments. The first case discusses a situation at a macro-level concerning decisions being made at the headquarters of a humanitarian organization. The second case looks at meso-level issues that need to be solved at a country or regional level. The third case proposes an ethical dilemma at the micro-level of the individual patient-provider relationship. DISCUSSION These real-life cases have been selected to illustrate the ethical dimension of conflicts within the context of humanitarian action that might remain unrecognized in everyday practice. In addition, we propose an ethical framework to assist humanitarian aid workers in their decision-making process. The framework draws on the principles and values that guide humanitarian action and public health ethics more generally. Beyond identifying substantive core values, the framework also includes a ten-step process modelled on tools used in the clinical setting that promotes a transparent and clear decision-making process and improves the monitoring and evaluation of aid interventions. Finally, we recommend organizational measures to implement the framework effectively. CONCLUSION This paper uses a combination of public health/clinical ethics concepts and practices and applies them to the decision-making challenges encountered in relief operations in the humanitarian aid context.

INTRODUCTION This paper aims to raise awareness regarding ethical issues in the context of humanitarian action, and to offer a framework for systematically and effectively addressing such issues. METHODS Several cases highlight ethical issues that humanitarian aid workers are confronted with at different levels over the course of their deployments. The first case discusses a situation at a macro-level concerning decisions being made at the headquarters of a humanitarian organization. The second case looks at meso-level issues that need to be solved at a country or regional level. The third case proposes an ethical dilemma at the micro-level of the individual patient-provider relationship. DISCUSSION These real-life cases have been selected to illustrate the ethical dimension of conflicts within the context of humanitarian action that might remain unrecognized in everyday practice. In addition, we propose an ethical framework to assist humanitarian aid workers in their decision-making process. The framework draws on the principles and values that guide humanitarian action and public health ethics more generally. Beyond identifying substantive core values, the framework also includes a ten-step process modelled on tools used in the clinical setting that promotes a transparent and clear decision-making process and improves the monitoring and evaluation of aid interventions. Finally, we recommend organizational measures to implement the framework effectively. CONCLUSION This paper uses a combination of public health/clinical ethics concepts and practices and applies them to the decision-making challenges encountered in relief operations in the humanitarian aid context.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Biomedical Ethics and History of Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:23 June 2014
Deposited On:16 Jan 2015 07:19
Last Modified:27 Jun 2016 08:46
Publisher:Public Library of Science (PLoS)
ISSN:2157-3999
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1371/currents.dis.96bec99f13800a8059bb5b5a82028bbf
PubMed ID:24987575
Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-103731

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