Kristin Bergtora Sandvik

Kristin Bergtora Sandvik, S.J.D. Harvard Law School, is a Senior Researcher at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) and the Director of the Norwegian Centre for Humanitarian Studies. Her research takes a socio-legal approach to technology, international law and humanitarian action. Her work has appeared in, inter alia, Disasters; the International Journal of Refugee Law; Refugee Survey Quarterly; Millennium: Journal of International Studies; and the IFRC World Disasters Report 2013.


  • Do no harm: A taxonomy of the challenges of humanitarian experimentation

    This article aims to acknowledge and articulate the notion of “humanitarian experimentation”. Whether through innovation or uncertain contexts, managing risk is a core component of the humanitarian initiative – but all risk is not created equal. There is a stark ethical and practical difference between managing risk and introducing it, which is mitigated in other fields through experimentation and regulation. This article identifies and historically contextualizes the concept of humanitarian experimentation, which is increasingly prescient, as a range of humanitarian subfields embark on projects of digitization and privatization. This trend is illustrated here through three contemporary examples of humanitarian innovations (biometrics, data modelling, cargo drones), with references to critical questions about adherence to the humanitarian “do no harm” imperative. This article outlines a broad taxonomy of harms, intended to serve as the starting point for a more comprehensive conversation about humanitarian action and the ethics of experimentation.

  • Humanitarian technology: a critical research agenda

    Kristin Bergtora Sandvik, Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert, John Karlsrud and Mareile Kaufmann / New technology may offer many opportunities for humanitarian action, but it also presents a number of challenges. Currently, most of the critical analysis of these potential challenges takes place in the blogosphere, on tweets and on listservs. There is a strong need for more scholarly engagement on the subject.