International humanitarian law and policy on


Techplomacy is how diplomatic relations and dialogue serve as a connecting bridge between governments, civil society and tech companies on global digital policy and emerging technological issues.

Two military officers survey tech terms before them.

Humanitarian action in the digital sphere

The digital transformation has changed the way that wars are fought and what impact they have on civilians. It has also transformed the way humanitarian organizations work, by offering new ways to use digital information and provide digital assistance that create opportunities to improve the lives of people affected by crisis. However, there are also concerns about the potential negative effects of these technologies: risks of surveillance, data exploitation, weaponization, and information denial can be especially dangerous in crises. 

The push for digitalization has led the humanitarian sector to rely more on digital technologies for their own functioning, as well as to engage with people affected by conflict. However, the long-term impact of these tools is often unclear.

What the law says about new technologies

Cyber attacks, armed drones and robots are new technologies used in cyber warfare. Their use raises novel humanitarian and legal challenges. 

The humanitarian community must strike a delicate balance between embracing digital advancements and being mindful of their potential downsides. Comprehensive risk assessments and proactive safeguards are crucial to ensuring that the benefits of digital technologies outweigh the risks, especially when it comes to protecting the vulnerable people they aim to serve. 

By being vigilant about data protection privacy, digital information security and responsible use of digital tools and services, the humanitarian sector can harness the transformative power of the digital revolution while minimizing the harm it may inadvertently cause to those it seeks to assist.