In March 2020, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for waiving of sanctions imposed on countries to ensure access to food, health, and medical support necessary to fight COVID-19, especially for those already facing dire humanitarian challenges. “This is a time for solidarity not exclusion,” he said. His call was reinforced throughout the year by OHCHR and OCHA, as they all have highlighted the importance of avoiding the collapse of any country’s medical system, which would not only be devastating for the country but could heighten secondary economic and security risks.
Conflict and insecurity continued to plague populations in the eastern Congo in 2020. Amidst a global pandemic draining humanitarian funding – only 34% of requested annual aid had reached the Congo in 2020 – conflict continues to simmer, with a record high of 5.5 million displaced across the country. Recent Kivu Security Tracker data also indicates a steep rise in killings, violent deaths and other forms of violence since the end of 2019, compared to previous years.
Communities are not homogenous. Within a single community, there are often divisions along class, ethnic, and gender lines. Further, not all communities are the same. Dynamics from one community to the next can widely diﬀer, including power relations, land allocations, gender dynamics, mobility, and the level of government inﬂuence. James Scott, in Seeing Like A State, showed how much of the vocabulary of state administration carries with it the mechanisms to disempower local authority and invest it in state agents who can then wield state authority. Rebalancing this relationship requires ﬁnding ways to overcome the monopolies over information, decision-making, and convening power that state agents have, particularly in systems that emerged from an extractive colonial context. Ignoring these dynamics when designing a CDD project will most likely result in elite capture, and possibly lead to local conﬂict, increased inequality, and erode trust between citizens and the state.
The February Data for Peace Dialogues is on remote sensing and satellite imagery, and how these types of technology can be used for human rights protection and conflict prevention. Experts discussed how their organizations apply remote sensing in their work, how this field has changed in the last decade, and what is the potential for the positive impact in the future.
The recent wave of violent protests and unrest across the developed world – the storming of the US Capitol during the electoral college process and the riots in the Netherlands, among others – questions the assumption that high-income countries have become immune to large-scale internal political violence. Are we facing a new wave of high-income conflict?