Supporting the implementation of mandated tasks through digital technologies
By Lauren Spink
UN peace operations need to employ new technologies to enhance their ability to implement their mandates more effectively in the complex conflict contexts where they are currently deployed and to adapt to changing conflict dynamics in the future. Of the 13 UN peacekeeping missions authorized today, seven of them are explicitly mandated to protect civilians and these seven missions are the largest, comprising 95% of all deployed peacekeepers. For these missions situational awareness is key to understanding and combatting protection threats and therefore to achieving their mandated tasks, in particular keeping pace with perpetrators of violence as they shift their capabilities and tactics for committing violence against civilians. Relatively modest improvements in the technological capabilities of missions could have a large impact on situational awareness, such as putting smart phones in the hands of the staff managing early-warning systems and deploying newer generation drones to improve imagery.
However, UN peacekeeping missions face a number of barriers when it comes to introducing new technologies. These technologies won’t be fully effective in improving peacekeeper performance if missions don’t have the right structures, policies, and personnel to manage them. This blog highlights four issues that UN Member States and the UN Secretariat need to tackle to build a foundation for the effective adoption of new technologies.