About the Series
The Providing for Peacekeeping Project (PPP) is an independent research project which analyzes the factors that encourage or discourage states from contributing to UN peacekeeping operations. Its aim is to generate and disseminate current information and analysis to support efforts to “broaden the base” of troop- and police-contributing countries, improve the quality of troop and police contributions, and fill key capability gaps. This project is done in partnership with The Elliott School at George Washington University and Griffith University.
As the world’s technological revolution proceeds, the United Nations can benefit immensely from a plethora of technologies to assist its peace operations. Fortunately, significant progress is being made. The UN has adopted a strategy for technology and peacekeeping and is showing the will and the means to implement it. New concepts, such as “technology-contributing countries” and “participatory peacekeeping” through new information technology, can improve peace operations. New technologies can also help UN field workers “live, move, and work” more effectively and safely, creating the possibility of the “digital peacekeeper.”
This report provides an overview of technological capabilities and how they are being used, explores progress to date and key challenges, and offers a set of practical recommendations. These recommendations include several general principles, such as to:
- Seek the buy-in of host countries and local populations so locals support the technologies;
- Use greater feedback and reach-back to UN headquarters and other international supporters, made easier as technology allows more information processing and support from farther away;
- Develop life-cycle equipment management, encouraging a systematic approach that maximizes technological potential; and
- Manage expectations so that some failures can be tolerated along the road to success and so innovation can flourish without unreasonable fears.
Beyond these general principles, it proposes ideas for new activities and processes:
- At UN headquarters, develop a “solutions farm” and a “tech watch” with “tech scouts,” annual reviews of UN technology and innovation, technology selection criteria, cooperation with research and development institutes, and national testing and evaluation centers.
- In the field, institute testing of new equipment, “proofs of concept” and pilot projects, demonstration kits, technology lessons-learned reporting, and special technological missions.
- Engage troop- and police-contributing countries by incentivizing them to bring in effective modern equipment, providing them training to foster technological expertise, and encouraging technology-contributing countries to assist them.
- Engage external actors and vendors by hosting a technology fair or “rodeo” and supporting a “hackathon” for smartphone and tablet app-developers on useful applications for peacekeeping.
About the Author
Walter Dorn is a Professor at the Canadian Forces College and Chair of the Master of Defence Studies programme at RMC. He was cross-appointed as an Adjunct Associate Professor with the Department of Politics and Economics at RMC, and a faculty member of the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre. He is a scientist by training (Ph.D. Chemistry, Univ. of Toronto), whose doctoral research was aimed at chemical sensing for arms control. He assisted with the negotiation, ratification and implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). As CWC programme coordinator at Parliamentarians for Global Action (1992-93), he addressed parliamentary committees in nations on several continents to support the ratification and implementation of the treaty. His interests are now broader, covering both international and human security, especially peacekeeping and the United Nations.
He has extensive experience in field missions. In 1999, he was a district electoral officer with the United Nations Mission in East Timor. He also served with the UN in Ethiopia (UNDP project) and at UN headquarters as a Training Adviser with UN’s Department of Peacekeeping Operations. He carried out research in conflict areas in Central and South America, Africa and South East Asia. He served on the UN’s Panel of Experts on Technology and Innovation in UN Peacekeeping.
Since 1983, he has served as the UN Representative of Science for Peace, a Canadian NGO, and addressed the UN General Assembly in 1988 at the Second UN Special Session on Disarmament. In the United States, he was a Senior Research Fellow at Cornell University (Einaudi Centre for International Studies, 1998-2000), a consultant to Yale University (United Nations Studies, 1996), a visiting scholar at the Cooperative Monitoring Centre (Sandia National Laboratories, NM, 1999) and adviser to the Federation of American Scientist (Biological Weapons Control expert group, 1990).
At the University of Toronto, he was a Research Fellow with the International Relations Programme as well as the Peace and Conflict Studies Programme, and the Physical Science Don at Trinity College.
In 2001/02 he was the inaugural DFAIT Human Security Fellow (academic). He is now working on a book tentatively titled “The Emerging Global Watch: UN Monitoring for International Peace and Human Security”.