Ethics committee

The presence of an ethics committee is required, in order to take part in the development of anthropology, which is conscious of the ethical, legal, economic and political stakes surrounding any form of research. It promotes the participation of those persons and communities who are studied during the course of our research, and ensures that they have given their consent. It would be unthinkable to conduct anthropology, which did not take into account the expectations and complex situations of indigenous peoples within the United Nations. The ethics committee contributes to this awareness during the planning of all research projects.


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Functions of the ethics committee

The ethics committee plays two major roles:

1) The evaluation of research projects in terms of their ethical character in accordance with the directives expressed in the present document. In response to a specific request, it delivers an "Ethics committee recommendation" certificate for the relevant research. The committee must not evaluate the scientific nature of the research, and cannot replace the Study Director, Research Director, or tutor. It must however express its opinion on the professional ethics of the research.

2) The supervision of young researchers, students in particular, in the context of ethical and legal topics. Thus, the committee also has an advisory role, the aim of which is to make the researcher aware of the ethical and legal problems which could arise during, or following, the research programme.


Committee membership

The Ethical Committee is elected by the laboratory's General Assembly. It comprises three researchers / teacher-researchers, one ITA/BIATOS staff member, and a student representative.



The committee meets whenever necessary, and not more than 30 working days following the filing of an application for an advisory report. The decisions taken by the committee are not validated unless all of the committee members come to a unanimous, favourable decision. Each committee member can request additional details from the researcher, to be given orally or in writing, but must take into account the volume of additional work resulting from this request. A final decision must be made, not later than 60 working days following the filing of an application.

The committee elects by a simple majority a president, whose role is to convene the committee and chair its meetings. It is mandatory for all members to participate in all committee meetings. If one of the members is justifiably unable to attend a meeting, he/she may be represented by a person, who must be approved by a majority of the other committee members.


Processing of an application and delivery of the advisory report

1) Any student (the applicant) who takes part in a research project must take an ethical committee advisory report application form from the CREDO secretarial office, or download the corresponding file. This file contains instructions from the committee as well as an ethical form.

2) The applicant must take great care and be entirely honest when filling out the form and any other free pages, before filing his/her application with the CREDO secretarial office. The secretary notes the date of application on the file, makes a copy for each of the members of the ethics committee, as well as a copy for the CREDO archives, and distributes these to the committee members as quickly as possible.

3) After receiving and reading an application, the president convenes a committee meeting. This meeting must take place within not more than 30 working days following the applicant's date of request. When calculating the aforementioned period of 30 days, public holidays and weekends are not included.

4) The ethics committee debates the ethical character of the project behind closed doors, and provides its written, motivated, and signed advisory report. This report must be voted unanimously. Additional details can be requested from the applicant. Nevertheless, a final report must be provided not later than 60 working days following the file's date of application. The advisory report must be handed to the CREDO secretarial office, which makes a copy for the CREDO archives, and then delivers the original by hand to the applicant, who signs an acknowledgement of receipt.

5) In the case of an unfavourable advisory report, the applicant may make a new application, on the condition that he/she takes the committee's prior advisory report into account, and that he/she specifies that it is the second or nth application for the same research project.


The CREDO's ethical committee guidelines:

The principles of ethical research

A. Mutual consultation, negotiation and understanding

Voluntary and informed consultation, negotiation and consent are the basis of ethical research. The researcher must recognise the contribution of inquiries to his/her project, and must therefore agree to provide the community with something in return. This return or repatriation can take on different forms: notebook copies and photographs, copies of books or off-prints, etc.

During the process of consultation and negotiation, the researcher must identify and involve the persons, together with any local, regional or national organisations and institutes, which need to be consulted.

The negotiation and consultation with the studied persons or communities and the aforementioned organisations are continuous processes. These negotiations must reach an informed and mutual understanding of the research objectives.

B. Respect and participation

Local knowledge systems and the emic processes related to the production of knowledge must be respected. The researcher must respect cultural and intellectual property rights.

The researcher must recognise the diversity of cultural and individual forms of knowledge systems. The researcher accepts the participation, and respects the opinion of indigenous researchers, in his/her project. This participation and respect must not necessarily lead to a scientific form of consensus, but must demonstrate that the indigenous opinions are taken into account and respected in the research and its results. The respondents have the right to become involved in a research project which are related to them.

C. Benefits, results and agreements

The use of, and access to, research results must be clearly defined. The respondents' expectations in terms of the research results must be taken into account during the negotiations and in the agreement.

A respondent community must be able to take short-, medium- and long-term advantage of the research results, and must in no case be penalised by these results. In practice, the research results must be presented to the respondent community in an intellectually and materially accessible form.

As far as possible, the negotiation and consultation must lead to a formal, if possible written, agreement, describing the principles, methods and objectives of a research project.