Van der Lijn and Smit’s “Peace keepers under threat? Fatality trends in UN peace operations” deconstructs the commonly held view that the increasingly dangerous contexts peacekeepers are operating in bring growing risks to their lives. Using casualty data from 1990 to 2015 for all UN peace operations personnel (uniformed or not), they show that this assumption is not validated. While 1998-2005 witnessed an increase in fatalities, there has been no clear trend since. The nature of deaths has changed : the “number of personnel killed by malicious acts in 2013 and 2014 was at its highest level for 20 years”. Yet again, the authors show that these remain much lower than the casualties suffered by UN personnel in the 1990ies in former Yugoslavia, Cambodia and Somalia. Also to note the particular case of MINUSMA (Mali) which has sadly topped the fatality ranking over the past couple of years and is now one the deadliest in the history of the UN.
Schroeder’s blogpost “Humanitarian UAV (“drone”) experts meet at MIT” was useful to get an update on the discussions of the “Humanitarian UAV Network”, the progress on the “Humanitarian UAV Code of Conduct and Guidelines”, and general directions of practitioners in this area. The network gathers experts from the UN (e.g., HCR, WFP, OCHA, DPKO), donors (e.g., ECHO), NGOs (e.g., American Red Cross), academia and think tanks. Meeting last week, a year after their first get-together, they saw a visible increase in the number of UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) projects piloted by humanitarian actors from the IOM to map displaced populations, to Catholic Relief Services to track coastal rebuilding, to MSF and UNFPA testing UAVs for health programs. The use of UAVs in our industry has led to passionate and controversial debates which the soon finalized “Code of Conduct and Guidelines” hope to appease. The document covers data ethics, community engagement, partnerships and conflict sensitivity. The views of our innovation unit on this topic can be found here.
My graph this week is from The Financial Times & Climate KIC’s Climate Change Calculator. Ahead of the Paris climate negotiations, 146 countries have made voluntary plans to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. What will all these pledges amount to? The climate change calculator gives an indication and lets you play around with numbers to visualize their cumulative impact on global warming. If countries continue polluting as they do today, the planet will warm by 6°C by 2100 (remember the Paris agreement should keep us under a 2°C rise). With the 146 pledges made to date, the model tells us that the planet will warm by 4°C. That won’t be good enough.
My quote this week is from Bill Easterly’s “The father of millions” because, honestly, when is the last time you heard him say something positive?: “The revolution in child mortality has many impersonal causes — including the spread of lifesaving medical technologies — but also some very particular heroes, of whom perhaps the biggest is James P. Grant, the director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) from 1980 to his death in 1995.”