The protection of civilians in conflict has become a top priority for the international community. Civilian populations trapped in conflict zones have become the targets of violent attacks, victims of war atrocities, and suffering parties when humanitarian assistance cannot reach them. Yet, the growing danger and complexity of modern conflict zones have made it more difficult for UN peacekeepers, as well as humanitarian and political actors, to protect civilians in conflict. To help fill the gap left by the international community, the International Peace Institute (IPI) requested the Capstone Team to explore existing and emerging technological tools and self-protection strategies that could be utilized by civilians to protect themselves.

The Capstone team primarily identified technology that would enhance security, improve the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and bolster accountability for human rights violations. These technologies included remote sensors, crisis maps, satellite imagery, mesh networks, UAVs, blockchain technology, cryptocurrencies, and controlled capture devices. In addition, the team interviewed tech companies and entrepreneurs, as well as NGO representatives and UN officials to better understand the challenges facing civilians in conflict and the potential for technology to serve as part of the solution.

The final product included the following:

  1. Report highlighting how new technology can be used to improve civilian security, humanitarian response capabilities, and accountability measures for crimes.
  2. Mapping document of organizations and other key actors that are stakeholders in protection of civilians and are applying new technologies to their work.
  3. Manual of technologies that civilian communities could employ for self-protection and survival strategies.