Just Emergencies Episode 7: The Ethics of Humanitarian Action with Dr. Caroline Clarinval

Episode 7 - The Ethics of Humanitarian Action

Dr. Caroline Clarinval works in conflict affected settings. Since 2015, she’s worked for the World Health Organization and before that, she was with he International Committee of the Red Cross for ten years. She’s been based in Egypt, in Ukraine, and now in Kazakhstan where she’s the WHO Country Office Representative. So she’s no stranger to having to make tough decisions that determine if and how people in conflict-stricken areas get access to healthcare.

Unsurprisingly, this means that she’s had to deal with some ethically challenging situation. And in Episode 7 of Just Emergencies she shares her experiences of integrating ethics into Humanitarian Action.

“The issues that we’re confronted with are not necessarily only of managerial, logistic, or administrative nature. Many of them are actually ethical dilemmas. And it requires a skilled person to find out what that means and to identify an issue as an ethical issue, to be able to also then address it in an appropriate way to order to come to a solution.”

She also explains the ten step model she developed together with Professor Nikola Biller-Andorno to approach decision making in humanitarian areas in a more structured and transparent way.

To find out more, listen to the full episode and read the episode transcript.

Links and Further Resources


International Committee of the Red Cross

World Health Organization 

Further Reading

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, ‘Reality Makes our Decisions: Ethical Challenges in Humanitarian Health in Situations of Extreme Violence – Report and Recommendations‘, (2019).

C. Clarinval, ‘Stop Missing the Point: Managing Humanitarian Action Well’, in Humanitarian Action and Ethics, A. Ahmad & J. Smith (eds) (Zed, 2018), pp. 269-282.

C. Clarinval & N. Biller-Androno, ‘Challenging Operations: An Ethical Framework to Assist Humanitarian Aid Workers in their Decision-making Processes’, (2014) PLoS Current, 6.


‘Just Emergencies’ is produced and edited by Rebecca Richards and made with funding from the Wellcome Trust.

Our intro song is ‘The sun comes up, I come down’ by Silicon Transmitter.

Our outro song is ‘Surge and Swell’ by Pictures of the Floating World.

Both are available under an Attribution-Noncommerical-ShareAlike3.0 Creative Commons License from Free Music Archive.

Image by Jon Tyson on Unsplash.