Jeannie Annan and Marie Gaarder have a recent paper out on using experimental and quasi-experimental methods to evaluate programs in countries which have experienced conflict (link, PDF). They review the methodological approaches of a number of recent post-conflict evaluations, and address the ethical implications of doing research in conflict zones. Their list of questions about the ethics and feasibility of such evaluations is very good:
(ii) Does the sample size factor in the potential for higher attrition due to potential security, issues, migration or ethical concerns? …
(v) Is there a security protocol or guidelines for evaluation staff? Does evaluation staff fall under any organizational protection for security?
(vi) Who carries the legal responsibility for the risks taken? Have the researchers partnered with an organization able to bear the risks? …(viii) Does the evaluation team have strong key informants who can provide thoughtful analysis about the security situation and the research implications at the design phase and throughout the evaluation?
Required reading for anyone who’s considering doing research in post-conflict countries.