UN, Red Cross need high-tech support from developed countries: expert
In this file photo, a United Nations MI-8 helicopter arrives at the airport in Juba, South Sudan, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013. (AP / UNMISS)
Published Thursday, November 17, 2016 1:28PM EST
The UN and groups like the Red Cross could use some high-tech help with their humanitarian efforts in conflict zones overseas, where gadgets like radar and GPS can sometimes mean the difference between life and death.
That's the message Walter Dorn, a professor at the Royal Military College of Canada and the Canadian Forces College, had for an audience at York University in Toronto on Thursday. Dorn was on hand to discuss how new technologies can contribute to humanitarian efforts, at the Red Cross Conference on International Humanitarian Law.
"The UN is under-resourced and underequipped, and it's not technologically advanced," Dorn told CTVNews.ca by phone after his speech. Dorn explained that many UN peacekeepers lack the technology that other militaries employ on a regular basis, such as GPS trackers on their troops and drone surveillance during their operations.
"It has trouble identifying which technologies are needed, (and) finding the best sources of it," Dorn said of the UN. He explained that, while the UN includes many technologically-advanced countries, those countries don't always contribute their technology to the organization's peacekeeping work.
"They need technology-contributing countries… to make contributions to make their peace operations and field operations more effective," Dorn said.
He explained that a number of technologies could help improve security around UN camps in conflict zones. Unmanned aerial vehicles, for instance, would make it easier to spot approaching attackers, while ground-penetrating radar could reveal mass graves and enemy weapons caches. Other devices like body cameras would improve accountability in the field, he added.
Dorn said any of those technologies would go a long way toward "replacing the fog of war with the clarity of peace."