A Rising Reign without Regulations: Responsible use of humanitarian data

Throughout the last two years, the pandemic has compelled humanitarians to rapidly meet evolving and growing needs of the population in a fast-changing landscape. Border restrictions and lockdowns have facilitated the development and use of new technologies and innovative techniques. Such technological advancements have fostered faster, more accessible and more effective humanitarian actions. 

On June 24, a High-Level Panel Discussion was held to discuss the use of new and emerging technologies and innovations in the collection of humanitarian data. Panelists shared the previous achievements in providing humanitarian aid with data collected. For instance, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) collaborated with Facebook to collect big data and identify the differentiated impacts to different groups of victims affected by the Australian bushfire. Providing such information to emergency managers significantly improved the response plan to future disasters. In general, collection of national demographic data allows humanitarian assistance to be more predictable and directed.

Responsible Data Usage

Despite the achievements, the use of big data analytics subjects beneficiaries to the risk of infringement of personal privacy. Humanitarian actors must preserve humanitarian principles and ensure responsible data usage.

Responsible data usage generally refers to a collective duty to prioritise and respond to the ethical, legal, social and privacy-related challenges that come from using data in new and different ways in advocacy and social change. It includes three principles: (a) provision of transparent and reader-friendly data policies while obtaining prior consent, (b) protection from using personal data for unfair discrimination, and (c) respect to the expectations of the people affect by prohibiting third-party access to the data. Public trust, which comes from responsible and ethical data usage, is a cornerstone for further digital innovation.

The main threat to responsible data usage is often monetary motives. Around the world, there have been little restrictions on sale and purchase of personal data, in addition to the legal defence of ‘consent’ even if regulations prohibit it. In fact, an estimate of over US$ 19 billion was spent by American companies alone in 2018 in acquiring consumer data, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau. In the context of humanitarian assistance, this creates a novel form of corruption.

Next Steps Forward

Data coordination is currently an unchartered territory. The United Nations called for systematization of the guidance, framework and best practices on data responsibility to ensure a minimum common standard imposed across all stakeholders. A holistic approach to accountability must be adhered to by all humanitarians, not only UN organizations but also its local partners. 

Furthermore, the pace of technological advancement is nearly always faster than that of legislation and policy development. Enforcement of established rules and regulations may not be sufficient to eliminate unethical use or sale of data. Humanitarians and data-handlers must be trained to exercise their independent judgment to ensure responsible data usage at root. Authorities must also strengthen the incentives for better practices.

Writer: WIT Intern Tracy Cheng





A Call for the Collapse of Colonialism: Decolonization in a nutshell

Earlier this month (June 14), a Special Committee meeting was convened virtually to discuss the longstanding issue of decolonization, particularly the question of Gibraltar, Tokelau, and West Sahara. Decolonization appears to be a global trend, yet it continues to bring heated debates onto the international platform. Here is a simple overview of the contemporary view of decolonization.

Colonialism and its Impacts

Modern colonialism emerged in the 15th century when the New World became subjected to Spanish, French, Portugese, and Dutch colonial rule. Colonialism was at its peak before World War I and colonial rivalries contributed significantly to the outbreak of the war. The largest wave of decolonization in history was achieved after the Second World War pursuant to the right to self determination, which was embodied in Article I of the United Nations Charter.

It is widely known that the control by one power over a dependent area or people brings about coercion and forced assimilation. Human rights violations are prevalent. Additionally, colonial powers exploited natural resources of colonies and caused environmental degradation. Indigenous cultural development has been undoubtedly hindered with ethnic suppression. However, one must not shed light only on the downside of the story.

Colonial governments often invested in infrastructure and trade in the local territory, which laid a solid foundation for their future economic growth. To facilitate modernization and suit the needs of the governing countries, access to education was improved and literacy was encouraged. Medical and technological knowledge was also disseminated. We shall not disregard the positive effects of colonialism entirely, but allow a step-by-step decolonization process to ensure smooth transition. We must act responsibly and make sure dependent territories can stand on their own before independence.

Decolonization Today

Today, less than 2 million people live under colonial rule in 17 non-self-governing territories. Among them, diverse attitudes towards administering countries are exhibited. At the Special Committee meeting, Gibraltar and Tokelau both showed appreciation to the developmental support given by their respective administrators, the United Kingdom (UK) and New Zealand. 

However, petitioners from Western Sahara illustrated their disapproval of the Moroccan administration. The human rights of the people in refugee camps are threatened. For instance, underaged detainees have been subjected to indoctrination, forced to attend military training, and sent overseas. Some member states showed support to the petitioners while some stood with Morocco and its autonomy to settle its own territorial dispute.

The contemporary obstacle to decolonization must be tackled at its root cause. The international community shall continue to strive to eliminate colonialism with a realistic, practicable, and enduring political solution based on compromise.

Written by: WIT-UN Intern Tracy Cheng





Smart Home to Smart City – Technology for Ageing

Source: https://global.toyota/en/

As a side event for the 58th Session of the Commission on Social Development, experts gathered together to demonstrate the challenging and innovative solutions from the best practices under the name of “Smart Home to Smart City – Technology for Ageing”.

Prof. Naoko Iwasaki, Waseda University APEC Director on Smart Silver Innovation, suggested that DX technologies will be the key to solve the issues on the damages of loneliness, mobility, jobless, and disasters in the ageing society, and UN should be leader to strengthen and develop capacity building on ‘Smart City’ and for a new framework for Smart Home project to increase citizen’s Quality of Life (QoL) under SDGs.

Dr. Wantanee Phantachat, Executive Director, Research center for Assistive technology and medical devices, National Science and Technology Development Agency, illustrated inclusive care model at community level using ICT. The model was successful in collecting health data, promoting primary care and preventive care, and promoting health literacy recognition among Thai people.

Prof. J.P. Auffret, George Mason University, President International Academy of CIO, demonstrated about the successful usage of AI on health caring. Dr. Stephen Ezell, YP, Vice President of Information and Technology Innovation Foundation, also emphasized on the need to adopt telehealth facilitating remote care provision and to use digital technology to help address social isolation. The experts voiced together on the need of policy consideration and engagement of seniors in developing products.

Source: https://www.un.org/development/desa/en/

Meeting: The 58th UNCSocD Side Event: Smart Home to Smart City – Technology for Ageing

Date/Location: Friday 14th February 2020; 15:00 to 18:00; Conference Room 12, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY


Prof. Toshio Obi, Waseda University, Ex-chair OECD Digital Ageing Project

Mr. Toshiya Hoshino, Ambassador of Japan to the United Nation

Prof. Naoko Iwasaki, Waseda University APEC Director on Smart Silver Innovation (Japan)

Prof. Alexander Ryzhov, RANEPA (Russia)

Dr. Wantanee Phantachat, Executive Director, Research center for Assistive technology and medical devices, National Science and Technology Development Agency (Thailand)

Prof. Theng Yin Leng, Nanyang Technology University (Singapore)

Dr. Stephen Ezell, YP, Vice President of Information and Technology Innovation Foundation (USA)

Prof. J.P. Auffret, George Mason University, President International Academy of CIO (USA)

Mr. Akihiko Sasaki, Director, North-American Center of NICT, MIC (Japan)

Written by WIT Representative Hakeoung Ellen Lee

2020 United Nations Public Service Forum and Awards : “Action Today, Impact Tomorrow”

Source: https://publicadministration.un.org/en/

The United Nations Public Service Forum is organized annually by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs to mark United Nations Public Service Day (23 June). Recognized for its leading role in public service innovation and digital government, the Republic of Korea will host the 2020 United Nations Public Service Forum from 23 to 26 June in Busan. 

Under the theme of “Action Today, Impact Tomorrow: Innovating and Transforming Public Services and Institutions to Realize the Sustainable Development Goals”, the event draws together ministers, government officials, international and regional organizations, schools of public administration, the private sector and civil society to present and discuss initiatives and best practices in public administration. It aims to further promote transformative governance and innovative public administration and services in advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. 

Dr. In-jae Lee, Deputy Minister of the Interior and Safety of the Republic of Korea, announced roughly 1,500 participants from more than 100 countries, including high-level officials, are expected to attend the Forum. The Forum includes following: High Level Opening and Keynote Addresses, Plenary Panel on ‘Action Today, Impact Tomorrow’, Plenary Panel on ‘Global and Regional Trends in Digital Government’, 6 Capacity Development Workshops, Ministerial Roundtable, UNPSA Awards Ceremony, Launch of UN E-Government Survey, Exhibition of the 2020 UNPSA Winning Initiatives, Study Tour Organized by the Government of the Republic of Korea.

Meeting: Briefing on the 2020 United Nations Public Service Forum and Awards (organized by the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea) 

Date/Location: Tuesday 11th February 2020; 11:30 to 13:00; Conference Room 6, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY


Mr. Liu Zhenmin, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs 

Dr. In-jae Lee, Deputy Minister of the Interior and Safety of the Republic of Korea

H.E. Mr. Yashar T.Aliyev, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the United Nations (UNPSF Host 2019; UNPSA Winner 2015) 

Ms. Elizabeth Niland, UNPSF coordinator, Governance and Public Administration Officer, Public Services Innovation Branch, Division of Public Institutions and Digital Government, UN DESA 

Ms. Zohra Khan, Global Policy Advisor, Governance and National Planning, UN Women (UNPSF co-organizer) 

Mr. Woong Joe Ko, Director for Plaaning and Operation, 2020 UNPSF Preparatory Office, Ministry of the Interior and Safety, Republic of Korea 

Mr. John-Mary Kauzya, Chief, Public Services Innovation Branch, Division of Public Institutions and Digital Government, UN DESA 

Written by WIT Representative Hakeoung Ellen Lee

VNR Lab “Strengthening the Use of Data for Evidence-based VNR”

20190717 VNR Lab

(Source: https://www.needpix.com/photo/934747/big-data-data-statistics-analytics-analysis)

As one of the two major review mechanisms for the implementation of Agenda 2030, Voluntary National Reviews (VNR) is prepared by member states to describe and evaluate their progress on achieving the 17 SDGs. VNR lab today brought Ghana, the United Kingdom, and Denmark to the table to share their experiences on engaging policymakers in utilizing SDG-related data, systematically cooperating with the civil society especially to create mutual benefits and integrating data sources to identify specific community needs. While countries have improved in generating data to measure SDGs, challenges remain as decision-makers are slow in response.

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An Intergenerational Dialogue on the Role of Youth in Implementing Climate Action

Organized by the Permanent Mission of Ireland, delegations met today to discuss the role of youth engagement in implementing SDG 13 (Climate Action). Consensus was reached on the urgency of mobilizing all population groups, especially the youth and the individuals from risk-prone regions like the Marshall Islands, into climate action, as they have the most at stake, considering we are currently only experiencing the impact of dire carbon emissions that were created back in the late 90s, with the full consequences of all emissions being foreseen to manifest in the next few decades.

Screenshot 2019-07-17 at 12.45.37 AM

(Source: https://twitter.com/irishmissionun/status/1151125697294979072)

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Japan’s Implementation of the SDGs

The 2019 Forum for the implementation of the SDGs was organized by the Friends of the UN Asia Pacific and the World Federalist Movement Youth Forum. The purpose of the forum was to highlight Japanese initiatives that have, and continue to, promote the Sustainable Development Goals.

The discussion was divided into three sections: the promotion of SDGs at the municipal level, the promotion of women’s equality and empowerment in society at the workplace, and business and technology leadership. Speakers from two Japanese cities, Shizuoka and Sabae City, highlighted how their cities have integrated the SDGs into the daily lives of their citizens, with events such as a SDG week, a SDG middle school student summit, and a SDG high school summit in which they plan to hear the ideas of high school girls.

Moderator, Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury, consistently drew speakers’ speeches back to the importance of gender equality, without which, he emphasized, none of the other SDGs would be able to be accomplished. Multiple speakers stressed the presence of impostor syndrome, or the underestimation of one’s self and paying too much attention to what others think, as an impediment to accomplishing greater gender equality in Japan.

Speakers in the business and technology section of the forum focused primarily on how both present great potential for advancing SDG goals. This possibility was discussed in terms of the food industry, and the possibility to use new technology to freeze food in its most fresh state, thus working towards goal two of zero hunger, and goal 12 of responsible consumption and production.

Meeting: An Interactive Forum Highlighting Japanese Initiatives Promoting The Sustainable Development Goals

Date/Location: Thursday, June 06, 2019; 15:00-18:15; Conference Room 11. United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY


  • Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury, Former Under-Secretary-General and High Representative (Moderator);
  • Mr. Sukehiro Hasegawa, Former Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the UN, President of Global Peacebuilding Association of Japan;
  • H.E. Dr. Toshiya Hoshino, Ambassador, Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations;
  • Mr. Robert Skinner, Executive Director, United Nations Office for Partnerships;
  • Mr. Fuminobu Akahori, Senior Policy Administrator of Shizuoka City;
  • Ms. Mayumi Takashima, on behalf of Mayor of Sabae City;
  • Ms. Marina Ponti, Director, SDG Action Campaign;
  • Ms. Mayuko Saeki, CEO of KIREIMO/ Vielis Inc;
  • Ms. Yukiko Ikeda, Chief Producer of TGC;
  • Mr Junji Torigoe, Representative Director of SAGAMIYA FOODS Inc.;
  • Ms.Fatima Khan, External Relations Officer, World Health Organization;
  • Mr. Takuji Otsu, Executive Director of FOUNAP SDGs Promoting Committee;
  • Mr. Yoshio Yamada, President of Technician Co. Ltd.;
  • Mr. Tomokiyo Tanaka, Shinto priest, Iwashimizu Hachimangu

Written by: WIT Representative Jenifer Miller

The Sustained Eradication of Child Labour

Child Labour

This meeting was a Briefing on the IV Global Conference on the Sustained Eradication of Child Labour. It was co-organized by the Permanent Missions of Argentina and Belgium, and the International Labour Organization.

Mr. Ted Chaiban, UNICEF Director of Programmes, spoke about approaches to ending child immigration detention. Specifically, he discussed: worldwide dialogues; agreeing and focusing on solutions and practices; a global compact on migration under the supervision of co-facilitators; and, encouraging member states and their partners to build road maps for taking systematic steps.

Mr. Donald M. Kerwin, Jr., Executive Director Center for Migration Studies, noted that most migration situations can be met by alternatives.  Detention should be a last resort only after all other solutions are fully exhausted. Moreover, states have a legal obligation to carefully examine the use of detention if other options are not sufficient. Also, the number of detentions and for-profit prisons should be reduced, and detentions should be used for non-criminals for the shortest period possible.

Ms. Ashley Feasley, Director of Policy for United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Msgr. Bob Vitillo, Secretary General of the International Catholic Migration Commission, discussed their organization’s support for: family reunification; refugee housing; fighting human trafficking; and, maintaining the family unit. They both stressed more protection for children’s rights as well.

Overall, it was felt that it is cruel and degrading to deprive children of their liberty of because of their parents’ immigration status. Children should not suffer due to circumstances out of their control. Many delegates agreed with this stance, and are working on the further development of effective alternative solutions to the detention of children.

Meeting: Briefing on the IV Global Conference on the Sustained Eradication of Child Labour (co-organized by the Permanent Missions of Argentina and Belgium, and the International Labour Organization)
Date/Location: Wednesday, February 21st, 2018; 13:15-14:30; Conference Room 12, United Nations
Headquarters, New York, NY
Speakers: Ted Chaiban, Director of Programmes for UNICEF; Mr. Donald M. Kerwin Jr., Executive Director Center for Migration Studies; Ashley Feasley, Director of Policy for United States Conference of Catholic Bishops; Msgr. Bob Vitillo, Secretary General of the International Catholic Migration
Written By: WIT Representatives David Jansen, June Hong, and Calvin Ferrara

Accountability in Education: Meeting Our Commitments


In commemoration of the 2018 Winter Youth Assembly, organizations in the United Nations held a forum regarding accountability in education.

Dr. Joshi presented key findings on the Global Education Monitoring report, stressing the importance of education and holding governments accountable, as well as highlighting the important role of youth and students. Targeting the international gap in education, Dr. Joshi revealed that over 100 million children cannot read, and millions are taught in languages they do not understand. Dr. Joshi claimed that accountability is a means to improve education and achieve SGD 4, listing governments, schools, teachers, parents, students, international organizations, and private sectors as responsible in different ways. Dr. Joshi explained that governments can develop a robust accountability system by facilitating meaningful engagement, creating credible education plans and budgets, avoiding narrow performance measures, being transparent, and monitoring education systems. In regards to youth, Dr, Joshi explained that protests can be effective tools in progressing education development, alluding to recent demonstrations that have produced evident results.

Ms. Khalif shared her brief history of advocating for young people and women, alluding to her respective organizations and achievements. Ms. Khalif encouraged youth to use their voices, underlining the importance of amplifying issues and finding robust ways to address them.

Mr. Gannon claimed that youth do not have to wait to tap into their potential, stressing the importance of student organizations and social media being a powerful vehicle for change. Mr. Gannon shared a brief history on his organization and its present efforts to empower youth. Mr. Gannon claimed that momentum for universal education are in the hands of youth, and encouraged young people not be discouraged nor complacent. Mr. Gannon also noted the lack of exposure students have to education system processes, stressing the importance of being knowledgeable.

Meeting: Forum on —“Accountability in Education: Meeting Our Commitments”

Date/Location: Thursday, February 15, 2018; 10:00; United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY


Dr. Priya Joshi, Research Officer for Global Education Monitoring Report, Moderator

Ms. Munira Khalif, US Youth Observer for the UN, Co-FOunder of Lighting the Way, Global Activist for Women’s Rights

Mr. Chris Gannon, Vice-President of US Student Association

Written By: WIT Representative Timothy Stephens


Youth Integration for Sustainable Development

Youth Sustainabiliy.jpg

In partnership with the Permanent Mission of Hungary to the UN and the International Federation for Family Development, the Permanent Mission of the State of Qatar to the UN held a conference to discuss the importance of youth integration of sustainable development. The youth today are far more dependent on parents and grandparents than past generations, leading to idleness that serves as a precedent to corruption among the young population.

Ms. Bogyay discussed the importance of how children are educated at home, highlighting the importance of the parents’ role. Education and employment are two notions that go hand in hand, and education on sustainability must begin at an early age. Emotional intelligence is also critical in how the youth build trust and communicate, especially in the digital age of the modern world.

Mr. Riederer reported a tremendous increase of youth unemployment in European countries. However, jobs are not enough as they must be both decent and sufficient to sustain the well-being of the population. He discussed the four different dimensions of vulnerability: economic, social, psychological, and physical; one dimension can lead to another. Vulnerability reproduction is also prevalent today, which constitutes its intergenerational transmission. Parental education is a critical component of this reproduction, as the level of education obtained by the parents mirrors the risk of youth poverty. Education is important for children, parents, employers, and society. Mr. Riederer concluded with three main points:

  1. Vulnerability is multidimensional.
  2. Vulnerability reproduction within families must be stopped.
  3. Education is key.
    1. Quality, school-to-work transition, decent jobs

Mr. Pomperada highlighted investment in youth and authentic development of future leaders. Young people must be taught that they have inherent value, as the youth are not just future leaders, but the leaders of today.

Meeting: International Federation for Family Development (IFFD) Briefing 2018: Youth Integration for Sustainable Development

Date/Location: Thursday, 2 February 2018, 1:15 pm – 2:30 pm; Conference Room 7, United Nations Headquarters, New York


Ms. Renata Kaczmarska, Social Affairs Officer, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Moderator

Mr. Mario Armella, World President of the International Federation for Family Development

H.E. Ambassador Alya bint Ahmed Al Thani, Permanent Representative of the State of Qatar to the United Nations

H.E. Ambassador Katalin Annamaria Bogyay, Permanent Representative of Hungary to the United Nations

Mr. Bernhard Riederer, Wiggenstein Centre, Vienna Institute of Demography

Mr. Obadias Ndaba, Founder and CEO of Jimbere Fund (United States)

Mr. Fabio Lup, Vice President of Associação do Abrigo Nossa Senhora Rainha da Paz (Brazil)

Ms. Katalyn Kardosné Gyurkó, President of Nagycsaládosok Országos Egyesülete (Hungary)

Ms. Noor Al Malki Al Jehani, Executive Director of Doha International Family Institute (Qatar)

Mr. Lord Leomer Pomperada, President of the World Youth Alliance

Written By: WIT Representative Kristin Kweon