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Making Maps to Make Peace: Geospatial Technology as a Tool for UN Peacekeeping

Elodie Convergne and Michael R. Snyder
Date posted:
October 20, 2015
Publication type:

International Peacekeeping, October 20, 2015, Vol. 22 , Iss. 5, 565-586

Available on Publisher Website
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This article analyses how United Nations peacekeeping operations are harnessing geospatial technology, including high-resolution satellite imagery and geographic information systems (GIS), in the furtherance of peace and security. We argue that it is strengthening the ability of peacekeepers to accomplish their mandated tasks, including the demarcation of international boundaries, support for the negotiation of peace agreements, stabilization, the protection of civilians, human rights monitoring, electoral assistance, support for the extension of state authority and the provision of humanitarian assistance. However, it remains to be seen how and to what extent UN peacekeeping can continue to grow and expand its geospatial capabilities. We identify several challenges of an operational and political nature that tend to impede its utilization. A key question in this regard is whether politics will prevent peacekeepers from exploiting recent advances in geospatial technology. We conclude and synthesize our argument by developing a simplified framework for determining when and under what conditions peacekeepers can effectively harness geospatial technology.



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