DornWalter Dorn
Professor of Defence Studies at the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) and the Canadian Forces College (CFC)

Book Summary

Knowledge is power. In the hands of the UN peacekeepers it can be a power for peace. Lacking knowledge, peacekeepers often find themselves powerless in the field, unable to protect themselves and others. The United Nations owes it to its peacekeepers and the “peacekept” to utilize all available tools to make its monitoring and surveillance effective. Keeping Watch explains how technologies can increase the range, effectiveness and accuracy
of UN observation. Satellites, aircraft and ground sensors enable wider coverage of areas, over longer periods of time, while decreasing intrusiveness. These devices can transmit and record imagery for wider dissemination, further analysis, and as evidence in human rights cases and tribunals. They also allow observation at a safe distance from dangerous areas, especially in advance of UN patrols, humanitarian convoys or robust forces. Sensor technologies have been increasing exponentially in performance while decreasing rapidly in price but the United Nations continues to use technologies from the 1980s. The few cases of technologies effectively harnessed in the field are identified.
This book identifi es potential problems and pitfalls with modern technologies and the challenges of incorporating them into the UN system. It offers creative recommendations on how to overcome institutional inertia and the widespread misunderstanding of the ways in which technology can improve security in war-torn regions. Above all, it shows how technological innovation can serve as a complement to human initiative in the quest for peace.

“In Keeping Watch, Walter Dorn makes a persuasive case for bringing the technology of UN peacekeeping into the 21st century—and not a decade too soon, because the time-honored approach of throwing ill-equipped troops at unstable places just is not working. With a unique mix of substantive and technical expertise, Dorn demonstrates how dozens of existing and emergent technologies—from thermal imaging to crowd-sourcing—could be vital force multipliers for peacekeepers, who can’t keep the peace if they don’t know the score. Anyone with an interest in peacekeeping should own this book and use it.”

Walter Dorn, Background
Walter Dorn is a Professor of Defence Studies at the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) and the Canadian Forces College (CFC). He serves as Chair of the CFC’s Department of Security and International Affairs.  In the past, he has served as co-chair of the CFC’s Department of Security Studies and as Deputy Director for Outreach and Community Development. He is also Chair of Canadian Pugwash, an organization of physical, life and social scientists seeking to reduce the threats to global security. Dr. Dorn 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) while working as a programme coordinator at Parliamentarians for Global Action (1992-93). He addressed parliamentary bodies on several continents and drafted a parliamentary declaration that was subsequently signed by more than one thousand parliamentarians.

His interests are now broader, covering both international and human security, especially the operations in the field to help secure them through peacekeeping and peace enforcement by the United Nations.

At the Canadian Forces College he teaches officers of rank Major to Brigadier from Canada and over 20 other countries in the areas of arms control, Canadian foreign/defence policy, peace operations and international security.

As an “operational professor,” he seeks direct experience in field missions. In 1999, he served as a district electoral officer with the United Nations Mission in East Timor. He also served with the United Nations in Ethiopia (UNDP project), at UN headquarters as a Training Adviser and three times as a consultant with the UN’s Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO). He has carried out DPKO-sponsored research in conflict areas in Central and South America, Africa and South East Asia. In 2010, during a sabbatical, he was a Visiting Professional in the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

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 UN Studies at Yale (1996), a visiting scholar at the Cooperative Monitoring Centre (Sandia National Laboratories, New Mexico, 1999) and an adviser to the Federation of American Scientist (Biological Weapons Control expert group, 1990). At the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre, he taught the course, “Live, Move and Work: Technology and Engineering in Modern Peacekeeping.”

At the University of Toronto, he was a Research Fellow with the International Relations Programme and with the Peace and Conflict Studies Programme, and the Physical Science Don at Trinity College. In 2001/02 he was awarded the inaugural Human Security Fellowship (academic) by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT).

He has recently finished writing a book titled “Keeping Watch: Monitoring, Technology, and Innovation in UN Peace Operations” and is hoping to finally complete a related book  on a broader theme, tentatively titled “The Emerging Global Watch: UN Monitoring for International Peace and Human Security.” It will analyse the expansion of the monitoring of conflicts, sanctions, elections, human rights and global security generally.

Additional Resources

Walter Dorn, “Canadian Peacekeeping: Proud Tradition, Strong Future?
Walter Dorn, “Canadian Peacekeeping: No Myth But Not What It Once Was
Walter Dorn, “Monitoring , Technology & Innovation in UN Peace Operations
Walter Dorn, “Intelligence-led Peacekeeping: The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH)
Walter Dorn, “50 Years Ago: the Cuban Missile Crisis and its Under-appreciated Hero

Recorded May 2012