Keeping Watch

Monitoring Technology and Innovation in UN Peace Operations

A. Walter Dorn
Release Date: June 1, 2011

Knowledge is power. In the hands of 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 the world and to its peacekeepers to utilize all available tools to make its monitoring and surveillance work more 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 many areas, over longer periods of time, while decreasing intrusiveness. These devices can transmit and record imagery for wider dissemination and 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. While sensor technologies have been increasing exponentially in performance while decreasing rapidly in price, however, the United Nations continues to use technologies from the 1980s.

This book identifies potential problems and pitfalls with modern technologies and the challenges to incorporate them into the UN system. The few cases of technologies effectively harnessed in the field are examined, and creative recommendations are offered to overcome the institutional inertia and widespread misunderstandings about how technology can complement human initiative in the quest for peace in war-torn lands.

“Walter Dorn is one of the most thoughtful and knowledgeable analysts of peacekeeping and security policy, and this book makes an important contribution to a field that needs far more public discussion.”
—The Hon. Bob Rae, MP for Toronto Centre and Liberal Foreign Affairs critic