Disaster Bioethics is a European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) project that intends to develop effective ways to address ethical issues triggered by disasters. This COST Action runs from 2013 to 2016 and bring together scholars and humanitarian relief workers and agencies to deal with the ethical issues arising in disaster relief and disaster planning. At the time of the kick-off meeting in October 2012, 19 countries were involved, and Dónal O’Mathúna was elected Chair of the Action.
Disasters overwhelm local and often national capacity to respond effectively. Significant imbalances result between needs and available resources. Disasters have become more frequent and more costly, and these trends are predicted to continue. As a result, disaster risk reduction and management are important priorities for national, European, and global agencies. Ethical decisions must be made throughout disaster planning and in relief responses. High level statements stress the importance of disaster ethics and the principle of putting people first in disasters. Yet few resources are available for disaster ethics decision-making. Policymakers, humanitarian agencies and individual responders seek ethical guidance and training materials to better address the challenging and distressful ethical dilemmas arising in disasters. Evidence-based knowledge is required to promote high-quality ethical decision-making.
This COST Action aims to improve ethical decision making for disasters by gathering knowledge of the ethical dilemmas and issues, carefully examining them, and developing training materials and publish resources to address disaster ethics. These outputs will assist policy-makers, humanitarian organizations, healthcare professionals, researchers and the public. The Action will benefit European citizens and organizations, and especially those lower income countries that are affected by disasters disproportionately and the more vulnerable within those regions.
The Center for Ethics and Law in Biomedicine will host the next conference, “Disaster Justice and Vulnerability” on April 21-22, 2016 at the Central European University.