Call for briefing papers | Cybersecurity and Data Protection in Humanitarian Action

As 2023 marches ahead, we are again looking at how humanitarian action is impacted by the introduction and uses of technology. There are numerous discussions happening around these issues, and we are very interested in capturing their insights.
Article 02 May 2023

It is for this reason that we are launching a call for briefing papers for the 2024 Symposium on Cybersecurity and Data Protection in Humanitarian Action in Luxembourg, which is tentatively scheduled for 23-25 January 2024.

Topics #1

Expanding on the first Symposium

The inaugural 2022 Symposium on Cybersecurity and Data Protection in Humanitarian Action covered several critical themes on which next year's event will build on. We invite briefing papers that build on the outcomes of last year's discussions across the following topics:

  1. Standards, principles and best practises for cybersecurity that are relevant for humanitarian action;
  2. Data protection standards and best practices for humanitarian donor reporting;
  3. Challenges concerning the role of the private sector, specifically the tech sector, in humanitarian emergencies and possible solutions;
  4. Data transfers and data flows to and/or between humanitarian organisations operating globally;
  5. Building a safe and trusted digital humanitarian space;
  6. Risks of hacking and surveillance: preserving neutrality, impartiality, and independence of exclusively humanitarian action in a digital world;
  7. Neutrality, impartiality, and independence of humanitarian action in a digital environment: insights from digital sovereignty debates, including the role, opportunities and challenges of open source;
  8. Operationalization of data protection and cybersecurity in humanitarian action;
  9. Data protection by design and by default for humanitarian technology;
  10. Training and capacity building for humanitarians.


Topics #2

Looking at upcoming issues

Open to new perspectives on the humanitarian sector's digital transformation, the second edition of the Symposium seeks insightful contributions on topics at the intersection of data protection, cybersecurity, and humanitarian action, including for example:

  1. Digital, children and humanitarian emergencies, including: Use of digital platforms for the recruitment of children in armed groups, and the link between child trafficking, data exploitation, and digital technology;
  2. Theoretical coherence and practical consequences of the interaction between frameworks of analysis: data protection, data rights, digital risks, digital harms, and data responsibility;
  3. Health-related data (including inferred data) in humanitarian action and the relevance for research and data protection, telemedicine, quality of care and patient safety;
  4. Neutrality in the digital space;
  5. Data portability and interoperability as a means of strengthening control of personal data in humanitarian contexts;
  6. Any other question, topic, or area at the intersection of humanitarian action, data protection and cybersecurity that requires expert discussion.



Abstract proposal

Authors responding to this call for briefing papers are asked to first submit a 300-word abstract proposal to Dr. Cristina Teleki ( and the DigitHarium team ( by Monday 29 May 2023 (close of business in Geneva) to assess its relevance to the Symposium. Authors whose proposals are deemed to be a good thematic fit will be invited to draft and submit a full briefing paper.

Submission of selected abstracts

If selected, briefing papers should be of a maximum 1,500 words in length, excluding footnotes and bibliography, by Monday 28 August 2023 (close of business in Geneva) and should be structured as follows:

Submit your paper by email to Dr. Cristina Teleki ( and the DigitHarium team ( with "2024 Symposium on Cybersecurity and Data Protection in Humanitarian Action briefing paper submission" in the subject line.

Proposals will be selected on the basis of their quality, relevance and timeliness of the issue raised. All submitted briefing papers will be assessed by members of the scientific committee (and other independent reviewers, where necessary), and if selected will be discussed at the next Symposium by distinguished multidisciplinary experts and scholars.

Final notification to authors

Authors will be notified about whether their briefing is accepted for presentation at the symposium by Friday 15 September 2023.


The Scientific Committee for the 2024 Symposium on Cybersecurity and Data Protection in Humanitarian Action is comprised by:

- Massimo Marelli, International Committee of the Red Cross
- Aaron Martin, European Centre on Privacy and Cybersecurity, Maastricht University
- Cristina Teleki, European Centre on Privacy and Cybersecurity, Maastricht University
- Gina Neff, Minderoo Centre for Technology and Democracy, University of Cambridge
- Myriam Dunn Cavelty, Center for Security Studies, ETH Zurich
- Ilia Siatitsa, Privacy International
- Giovanna Gnerre Landini, Diplomacy Lab
- Laura Guercio, Universities Network for Children in Armed Conflict - UNETCHAC
- Catherine Lennman, Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner (FDPIC), Global Privay Assembly


In cooperation with the Humanitarian Action Programme at the ECPC of Maastricht University