Evolving practices of remote sensing data use by international human rights organizations.

Authors: James Walker*, University of California - Los Angeles
Topics: Human Rights, Remote Sensing, Political Geography
Keywords: Human Rights, Remote Sensing, NGOs, Practice Theory, STS
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/9/2020
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 4:35 PM
Room: Plaza Ballroom F, Sheraton, Concourse Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Modern international human rights campaigns increasingly capitalize on the use of remote sensing (RS) data. Images that document mass atrocities, war crimes, and other major violations of International Human Rights (IHR) law have become significant publicity tools available to INGOs active in the human rights and humanitarian fields. However, the everyday practice of RS as a functional tool for organizations such as Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International (AI) is considerably more significant than simply publishing images of horror and destruction. Stemming from an STS/ Practice Theory perspective, this paper explores the series of distinct yet complementary roles that RS technology supports for major human rights groups. It argues that the development and adoption of RS technology has had a significant impact on the internal practice of human rights advocacy, and has begun to appreciably change the temporal capacity of IHR actors - both in terms of analytical processes, and in regards to the use of actionable data in the field, in crisis narrative perception, and in leveraging human rights knowledge for the purposes of influencing elite and public opinion at the domestic and international level.

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