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International development research funders publish guidance to anticipate, mitigate and address harm in research

Today, international development research funders share UKCDR’s best practice guidance and principles to prevent and tackle harm and abuse across research for international development in general as well as in emergency situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

On behalf of major funders of international development research, UK Collaborative for Development Research (UKCDR) is publishing a set of principles and best practice guidance on safeguarding to anticipate, mitigate and address potential and actual harms in the process of international development research, along with a ‘companion piece’ on the practical application of this guidance during COVID-19.

This new guidance has been developed over the past 18 months, in consultation with international development experts across the globe following a commitment made in 2018 by the Department for International Development, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Department of Health and Social Care, UK research and Innovation and Wellcome to jointly raise standards of behaviour across the sector.

Marta Tufet, Executive Director of UKCDR said:

"Everyone involved in research for international development has the right to be protected from harm and while there is much good practice already in place to ensure this, our new guidance provides a vital resource to ensure everyone involved in research is able to reflect on best safeguarding practice to ensure all involved are safe. Providing guidance on safeguarding in international development research is crucial, and arguably even more pertinent during these extraordinary times. People and organisations may not focus on its importance in the face the immediate emergency, and low-resources settings can be at greater risk of safeguarding abuses. This guidance provides a framework for preventing risk in the first place as well as tackling issues when the arise."

The evidence-based guidance is designed to be used flexibly and collaboratively by a wide range of people involved in the international development research process, whether based in low-, middle- or high-income countries. The findings and principles are also widely applicable to the UK and wider international setting (non-LMIC). Formed around four key principles – rights of victims and survivors and whistle-blowers; equity and fairness; transparency and accountability and good governance – we ensured the guidance was not prescriptive and is adaptable to different contexts.

The guidance, developed by a team at the University of Liverpool with UKCDR, is designed to be used flexibly and collaboratively by a wide range of people involved in the international development research process, whether based in low-, middle- or high-income countries. The findings and principles are also widely applicable to the UK and wider international settings (non-LMIC) and framed around four key principles – rights of victims and survivors and whistle-blowers; equity and fairness; transparency and accountability and good governance. To ensure the guidance is adaptable to different contexts, this guidance is not prescriptive and takes the form of questions for key stakeholders involved in international development research.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, this guidance is accompanied by a ‘companion piece’ to underline the ongoing importance of safeguarding in research in the context of COVID-19, highlighting specific issues to consider during the current crisis and signpost additional useful resources.

"This work represents the start of a long-term ambition. Today we emphasise our continued commitment to support international development funders, research institutions and other organisations that conduct development research to drive up safeguarding standards across the sector, both during this pandemic where support is needed and with renewed vigour once this crisis has passed" Marta Tufet explained.

The guidance and reports are available here:


This news story was originally published on the UKCDR website.