Tensions in UN Information Management: Security, Data and Human Rights Monitoring in Darfur, Sudan

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This article argues that there are inherent tensions in information management by UN peacekeeping missions balancing operational data with the creation of an archive documenting human rights abuses. The divergence between demands of peace and justice has been well documented, but little attention has been paid to the production and analysis of data for the provision of security weighed against human rights monitoring. The article focuses on the hybrid AU/UN Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) which has been mired in controversy and characterized by a difficult relationship with the government of Sudan, whose goodwill is needed for the mission to operate. The article raises questions about these competing demands, particularly: what are the ethical implications of the creation, use and analysis of real-time security data in a context where there are suspected human rights violations? Furthermore, it asks whether real-time security data should be stored as a future human rights archive, and if so, what are the practical and ethical responsibilities placed on those producing, storing and using that data? It highlights the ways in which the human rights monitoring aspect of the mandate has come into conflict with the mission’s primary role: protection of civilians. It explores intelligence collection by the Joint Mission Analysis Centre (JMAC) and the potential of this data both as a physical archive of human rights abuses and as an imaginative archive structuring international discourses about the conflict in Darfur. The article concludes by arguing for a greater exploration of the competing informational demands of peacekeeping missions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-115
JournalJournal of Human Rights Practice
Issue number1
Early online date8 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute


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