General Information

At the end of February 2014, the COST action on Disaster Ethics and the University of Copenhagen's excellence program for interdisciplinary research project "Changing Disasters" organized a common workshop on Disaster Justice.

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Workshop description

When ethical decisions are made on a recurring basis, it becomes clear that such decisions should not be taken as a series of individual choices made under conditions of urgency or necessity, but as decisions that should be taken as a proper object for justice.  Situations relevant for such an order obviously include concrete decisions of allocation and prioritization in case of resource scarcity or triage, but also principal questions of overall distribution and procedure within humanitarian aid and the exercise of “backward looking” institutional justice in the aftermath of disasters and social (in)justice.  

To start addressing these vital issues, we organized a workshop that has lead to a theoretically-rich, yet directly related, discussion as to how such considerations can be approached in practice. The workshop has taken place from 27-28 February 2014 in Copenhagen. It was organized in cooperation between the COST Action IS1201 on Disaster Bioethics ( and University of Copenhagen’s excellence program for interdisciplinary research project “Changing Disasters” (

The aim of the workshop was to investigate the meanings of disaster justice and how it shapes the various issues and problems associated with preparing for, responding to and recovering from disaster in a coherent and ethical manner.  The workshop took place over two days, with three specialized sessions focusing on central areas/topics related to disaster justice.


Day 1 - 27 February 2014

  Keynote Lecture I
13.15-14.30 Professor Naomi Zack
"Applicative Justice and Disaster"
  Session I
Disasters and Social Justice: Victims, Vulnerabilities and Resilience
chaired by Birgitte Refslund Sørensen (University of Copenhagen)
15.00-15.30 Veselin Mitrović (Univerzitet u Beogradu)
”The Disaster before disaster: Methodological approach for detecting vulnerabilities among the marginal social groups and possible prevention of their victimisation.” (PDF)
15.30-16.00 Natália Oliva Teles (INSA)
“Responsibility, Disaster Bioethics and Distributive Justice – is this the natural order?”
16.00-16.30 Dónal P. O’Mathúna (Dublin City University) and Maxwell J. Smith (University of Toronto)
“Disaster justice through the lens of Powers and Faden’s theory of social justice” (PDF)


Day 2- 28 February 2014

  Keynote Lecture II
09.15-10.30 Professor Michael Otsuka, "Risking Life and Limb: How to Discount Harms by their Improbability"
  Session II
Disaster Justice and Humanitarian Action: Allocation of Aid, Attention and Engagement
chaired by Jasper Littmann
11.00-11.30 Behnam Taebi (Delft University of Technology)
”Looking for Justice: Food Aid Distribution in Post-Disaster Situations” (PDF)
11.30-12.00  Karen da Costa (Irish Centre for Human Rights) and Paulina Pospieszna, (University of Poznan)
“Reducing the risk of natural disasters: is there a role for human rights to play?” (PDF)
  Session III
Disasters and Distributive Justice: Clinical Care, Public Health and Disasters
chaired by Dr. A.M. Viens, Ruhr-University Bochum
13.00-13.30 Signe Mezinska (University of Latvia)
”How to improve queue justice? Ethics and culture of queuing in disaster health care” (PDF)
13.30-14.00 Pierre Mallia (University of Malta)
”Ethical theory and practice for health care professions in disaster situations”
14.00 -14.30 Iskra A. Nola (University of Zagreb) and Ana Borovečki (University of Zagreb)
“Professional liability in crisis situations”
14.30-15.30 Closing remarks




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