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Ethics in International Development

IERG’s research on Ethics in International Development is led by Dr. Keith Hyams. together with postdoctoral researchers Dr. Morten Byskov and Dr. Poshendra Satyal. It is supported by Warwick’s International Development Global Research Priority Network and is funded by the UKRI Global Challenges Research Fund (AHRC, NERC, ESRC), the British Academy International Challenges Fund and the British Academy Knowledge Frontiers Fund, the ESRC Impact Fund, the National Research Council Canada, the Warwick Impact Fund, and the Global Partnerships Fund. We have particular research expertise in the Ethics of Climate Change Adaptation, but also work across a range of ethical issues arising in International Development. Dr. Hyams is a member of the UK Collaborative on Development Research Safeguarding Expert Advisory Group and has lived in and worked on international development issues in various countries, including Rwanda, Guyana, Peru, Nigeria, Cuba, and the Middle East, and with Indigenous communities in India, Indonesia, and Mexico.

Urban violence and climate change workshop

Our collaborators on current projects include:

IERG also runs the Politics of Papua Project, which looks at Indigenous development of Papua in Indonesia in the context of regional and international politics. The work of the Politics of Papua Project has been taken up by a number of MPs, including the leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn MP.

Some of the questions that we are interested in include:

  • What duties do ‘experts’ (in development, disaster risk, etc.) have to share information with stakeholders?
  • Who should make final decisions about interventions based on expert advice?
  • Can experts be held liable for providing poor advice, or for omitting to provide advice, and if so when?
  • How can multiple perspectives or ‘knowledges’ be reconciled, both in the case of resilience and in the case of development more broadly?
  • What particular ethical issues arise when working with Indigenous communities?
  • What ethical commitments do vulberable communities themselves endorse and how should these be factored into policymaking, for example in future scenario planning for climate adaptation?
  • How can philosophical discussions about equity and justice enrich development debates in ways that protect the most vulnerable and combat marginalisation?
  • What duties does the state/citizens have to take action to mitigate climate risks themselves?
  • What should happen when they fail to fulfil those duties – e.g. if people fail to take reasonable precautions does that mean that they should be a lower priority for disaster response than those who did take precautions?
  • What issues of privacy, informed consent, data protection, etc. arise when gathering and sharing personal data in a development context?
  • Is the idea of a 'social contract' useful for thinking about development issues, and what does it amount to?
  • What justice/distributional issues need to be taken into account when undertaking development work, disaster preparedness, response and rebuilding interventions?
  • In the context of limited resourcing, which development goals, risks, interventions and communities ought to be prioritised?
  • What are the appropriate measures of value at stake?


28 January 2019

NEW GRANT: Dr. Keith Hyams awarded British Academy Funding for the project 'Tackling Climate-Related Health Risks in Urban Slums’, with University of Zambia, Leeds, and Warwick medical school.

11 October 2018

NEW GRANT: Dr. Keith Hyams awarded ESRC GCRF funding for the project 'Challenging Inequalities: An Indo-European Perspective', with Warwick Economics, CSH Delhi, and others.

10 September 2018

Dr. Hyams appointed to UK Collaborative on Development Research Safeguarding Expert Advisory Group.

12 July 2018

EVENT: IERG to host a workshop on 'Climate Change and Urban Violence' on 26th and 27th Sept, with partners from Brazil, Pakinstan, Honduras and Kenya.

20 March 2018

EVENT: IERG to host a workshop on 'Ethics of Resilience' on 3rd May, with KCL, Cape Town, and others.

25 Jan 2018

NEW GRANT: Dr. Keith Hyams awarded ESRC IAA funding for the project 'Urban Violence and Climate Change Adaptation', with Open University, International Alert, SIPRI, Adelphi, Arab Urban Development Institute, Christian Aid, IIED, ODI, Khartoum, Amman, Nairobi, Honduras, IBA Pakistan..

5 Dec 2017

NEW GRANT: Dr. Keith Hyams awarded Leverhulme Trust Research Project funding for the 3 year project 'Governance of Global Catastrophic Risk'.

5 Dec 2017

NEW GRANT: Dr. Keith Hyams awarded British Academy 'International Challenges' funding for the project 'Remedying Injustice in Indigenous Climate Adaptation Planning', with Makerere (Kampala) and Leeds.

19 Sept 2017

EVENT: Dr. Keith Hyams, Kat Hadjimatheou, John Guelke and Chris Nathan to run a workshop at the Cabinet Office on 8th Oct on development ethics, environmental ethics, security and cyber ethics.

25 May 2017

EVENT: IERG to host a workshop on 'Development, Inequality, and Citizenship in Papua' on 20th July, with UGM (Yogyakarta), UNCEN (Jayapura), and York.

6 Dec 2016

NEW GRANT: Dr. Keith Hyams awarded Canada Research Council funding for the project 'Climate Change Indigenous Food Security', with Guelph, McGill, Makerere (Kampala) and Lima.

18 Oct 2016

NEW GRANT: Dr. Keith Hyams awarded AHRC-ESRC-NERC Global Challenges Research funding for the project 'Why We Disagree About Resilience', with KCL, Cape Town, Manilla and Nairobi.