23 May 2012, Geneva, Switzerland - The Government of Poland, in collaboration with the Permanent Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations in Geneva, organised a briefing on UNOSAT with a focus on mapping and analysis for human rights and humanitarian assistance.  The briefing took place in the premises of the EU Delegation in Geneva and gathered representatives from EU countries, officials from the EU Commission and 3 non-EU countries.

The briefing was given by Francesco Pisano, UNOSAT Manager, accompanied by two UNOSAT staff. During the briefing delegates could learn about the UNOSAT Humanitarian Rapid Mapping Service launched in 2003 to support the international humanitarian community, including EU actions, and about new developments in the areas of human rights and territorial monitoring and planning. Mr. Pisano explained how funding and technological advantage was being used at UNOSAT to develop a Human Rights Mapping Service that should be a permanent feature by 2013. He called for support also from EU countries, who have a long tradition of supporting technology and a long record of upholding human rights in crisis situations.

UNOSAT showed various examples from the work done for the UN Human Rights Commission, the Panels of Experts nominated by the UN Secretary-General and other Commissions of Inquiry.

In welcoming participants, the representative of the EU Delegation underlined the importance of applied technology for the improvement of humanitarian assistance.  In her opening remarks, Ms Malgorzata Cichucka, Counselor at the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Poland, explained that UNOSAT and Poland had been cooperating and exchanging information and practices on the use of satellite analysis for emergency response and humanitarian situational awareness. This cooperation had also included the participation of UNOSAT experts in a simulation exercise and a Workshop on Use of Space Applications in Humanitarian Operations held in Warsaw in May 2012.

The European Union medium-term priorities at the United Nations (2012-15), released on May 2012 by the EU Commission, mention clearly that EU countries are committed to “supporting the strengthening of the humanitarian architecture throughout the UN system and the UN's leading role as coordinator of International Humanitarian”. This is of particular relevance to UNOSAT, whose Humanitarian Rapid Mapping Service has been innovating and supporting humanitarian assistance since 2003.

The same policy document also states that “the EU has developed significantly its activities in the field of crisis management. A close cooperation with the UN is already established, but we aim to advance this further, whilst respecting our distinctive legal frameworks.” In the same vein Francesco Pisano underlined that several examples of this good collaboration exist also in the area of work of UNOSAT: the partnership with JRC on satellite mapping and damage assessment and the innovative work done by UNOSAT, ACTED and Impact Initiatives that generated REACH Global, also funded by ECHO, are the two most recent examples. UNOSAT is also a constant provider of information to the European Commission MIC (the Monitoring and Information Centre of ECHO), with which a partnership process is going to be finalised soon.

A Brief on UNOSAT mapping or human security can be dowloaded here.

Image: One of the examples shown during the briefing - courtesy of UNOSAT