Digital Humanitarians and International Lawyers: Worlds apart or Two Sides of the Same Coin?

In: Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law Online
Tommaso SoaveAssistant Professor of Law, Central European University, Vienna, Austria

Search for other papers by Tommaso Soave in
Current site
Google Scholar
View More View Less
Download Citation Get Permissions

Access options

Get access to the full article by using one of the access options below.

Institutional Login

Log in with Open Athens, Shibboleth, or your institutional credentials

Login via Institution


Buy instant access (PDF download and unlimited online access):


The field of humanitarian assistance is undergoing a computational revolution, but international lawyers are slow to realize it. Thanks to the deployment of data analytics, humanitarian agencies are increasingly able to forecast where and when a crisis will strike, whom it will affect, and what needs it will create. These developments enable new and promising models of anticipatory response, but also raise concerns in terms of risk management and irresponsible experimentation. Yet, so far, international lawyers have been strikingly silent about the normative implications of digital humanitarianism. Seeking to fill the gap, this article assesses the impact of data- driven humanitarian response on the practice of international law, and sets out some broad parameters for dialogue and mutual engagement between the two fields of expertise. That engagement requires, first, an understanding of the normative character of humanitarian data practices. Based on that understanding, international lawyers can contribute to the regulation of digital humanitarian networks and help steer the system towards greater accountability.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 201 201 8
Full Text Views 13 13 0
PDF Views & Downloads 36 36 0