A red computer chip
Michael Dziedzic for Unsplash

An agreement between the ICRC and CRASSH at the University of Cambridge delivers a new research programme exploring digital and cyber security policy, ethics and regulation.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and CRASSH (Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities) at the University of Cambridge agreed to cooperate on research and share knowledge and experience in digital and cyber security regulation, policy, and ethics.

Together they will create a Humanitarian Action Programme at CRASSH at the University of Cambridge, with the support of the ICRC’s Delegation for Cyberspace in Luxembourg, the ICRC Special Envoy for Foresight and Techplomacy, and the ICRC Data Protection Office.

The Humanitarian Action programme will be a home for new research that will:

– Study how digital transformation and new technologies are impacting or are likely to impact in the future humanitarian action as well as communities affected by humanitarian emergencies.

– Examine the impact of new technologies and digital transformation on the capacity of humanitarian organizations to continue serving affected communities in a neutral, impartial, independent and exclusively humanitarian manner.

Speaking about the launch of the programme, Massimo Marelli, head of ICRC’s Delegation for Cyber Security in Luxembourg said:

“This collaboration is an essential enabler to guide and equip the humanitarian sector with the tools necessary to navigate new challenges linked to digitalization, to maintain trust, and to continue serving affected communities while embracing opportunities offered by digital transformation”.

The programme will be led at Cambridge by Prof. Gina Neff, Executive Director of the Humanitarian Action Programme at CRASSH. Prof Neff said:

“We are delighted that this programme has launched. Bringing the operational humanitarian experience and legal expertise in humanitarian action from the ICRC together with our academic expertise in digital technology will provide a unique opportunity to explore how technology can best serve the public good”.

The programme will bring together a new research team in Cambridge, with recruitment now underway for a Research Fellow to examine the topic of digital neutrality.

Further avenues for collaboration are also foreseen, such as the development of custom-made executive education programmes aimed at increasing professional training opportunities for ICRC representatives as well as other humanitarian practitioners, particularly in the areas of cybersecurity and technology, policy, ethics, and regulation.



The Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) was established in 2001, with the objective of creating interdisciplinary dialogue across the Arts and Humanities and Social Sciences, and forging connections with science subjects. Since then, CRASSH has grown into one of the largest humanities institutes in the world, with a global reputation for excellence.

About ICRC

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is a neutral, impartial, and independent organization whose exclusively humanitarian mission is to protect the lives and dignity of victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence and to provide them with assistance. The ICRC also endeavours to prevent suffering by promoting and strengthening humanitarian law and universal humanitarian principles. Established in 1863, the ICRC is at the origin of the Geneva Conventions and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. It directs and coordinates the international activities conducted by the Movement in armed conflicts and other situations of violence.

For press enquiries, please contact Jeremy Hughes, University of Cambridge: jph79@cam.ac.uk or Aurelie Lachant, International Committee of the Red Cross: alachant@icrc.org