BMA guidance

Working in conflicts and emergencies toolkit

To prepare humanitarian health professionals with the ethical dilemmas they may face when working in conflicts.

Location: UK International
Audience: All doctors
Updated: Tuesday 7 November 2023
Topics: Ethics
Justice scales article illustration

This guidance will provide you with the key legal and ethical considerations you need to take into account when working in conflicts and emergencies, and signposts to other sources of support and information.


What you'll get from this guide

This guide is structured around areas known to be challenging, including:

  • Threats to delivering care to appropriate standards, often linked to a shortage of resources.
  • Pressures to transfer the injured, sick or wounded to substandard health facilities.
  • Identifying an acceptable lower limit of quality: at what point do you draw the line?


How to use this guide

This guide is not a set of rules or instructions, or a substitute for careful reflection and discussion with colleagues.

You can seek additional advice on specific dilemmas from the BMA’s medical ethics and human rights department, the GMC, or your medical defence organisation.

  • Law, ethics and humanitarian action
  • Fundamental principles
  • Medical impartiality
  • Areas of ethical concern
  • Sources of other advice