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Governmental duty of care for disaster-related science diplomacy

Ilan Kelman (Institute for Global Health and Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction, University College London, London, UK) (University of Agder, Kristiansand, Norway)

Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Article publication date: 7 August 2017



The purpose of this paper is to present a first exploration of governmental duty of care towards scientists involved in science diplomacy by focusing on disaster research.


The method is a conceptual exploration, using specific case studies and potential scenarios within theories and practices of science diplomacy and duty of care, to raise questions and to suggest policy recommendations for government. The focus on disaster research links the analysis to disaster diplomacy, namely, how and why disaster-related activities (in this case, science) do and do not influence peace and conflict.


From examining case studies of, and outputs and outcomes from, disaster-related science diplomacy, governments need to consider duty of care issues in advance and develop a science diplomacy strategy, rather than responding after the fact or developing policy ad hoc.

Practical implications

Policy recommendations are provided to try to ensure that governments avoid simply reacting after a crisis, instead being ready for a situation before it arises and drawing on others’ experience to improve their own actions.

Social implications

Improved interaction between science and society is discussed in the context of diplomacy, especially for disaster-related activities.


Governmental duty of care has not before been applied to science diplomacy. The focus on disaster-related science further provides a comparatively new dimension for science diplomacy.



Kelman, I. (2017), "Governmental duty of care for disaster-related science diplomacy", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 26 No. 4, pp. 412-423.



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