Keeping Watch: About the book

 From the backcover of A. Walter Dorn, KEEPING WATCH: Monitoring, Technology &
in UN Peace Operations
, UN University Press, 2011.


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 technology can increase the range, effectiveness and accuracy of UN observation. Compared to the unaided UN military observer with the "mark one eyeball", satellites, aircraft and ground sensors cover wider areas over longer periods of time, while decreasing intrusiveness. Technologies permit observation at a safe distance from dangerous areas, especially in advance of UN patrols, humanitarian convoys or robust actions. These devices can record and transmit imagery for wider dissemination, detailed analysis, and as evidence in human rights cases and tribunals. Smartphones and the Internet allow for "crowd sourcing" and wide sharing over the Internet.

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 identifies 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.