The dire humanitarian consequences of the dronewars are familiar by now. There has been much less public discussion about the potential humanitarian uses of drones- so called disaster drones- for a range of missions that are today undertaken by volunteers and rescue dogs, or manned ships, airplanes and helicopters. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), popularly known as drones, offer the humanitarian community a range of exciting possibilities with relation to crisis mapping, search and rescue, and yet some way off into the future, relief drops. At the same time, the UAV industry increasingly attempts to market itself as “humanitarian”, and little attention is given to legal issues such as data protection and privacy.

How should the humanitarian community grapple with the evolving development of drones for humanitarian purposes? What are the potential dilemmas and challenges?


  • Kjersti Lohne: An inventory of ongoing and projected transfer of UAV hardware from military to humanitarian use: surveillance UAVs, weaponized UAVs and cargo-carrying UAVs
  • Mareile Kaufmann: Drones for Search and Rescue Operations? Investigating societal dimensions of the civilian drone
  • Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert: UAVs for border surveillance and humanitarian rescue at sea? Pitfalls and possibilities of EUROSUR’s prospected use of drones
  • John Karlsrud: In the eye of the beholder: UN and the use of drones to protect civilians
  • Kristin Bergtora Sandvik: Big data, data protection and humanitarian decision making: challenges to accountability and transparency

Chair: Frederik Rosén, Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS)

The event is co-organized by the Humanitarianism and Security Research Groups at PRIO and the Norwegian Centre for Humanitarian Studies (NCHS).

Coffee and a light lunch will be served.