Satellite imagery used as evidence in research on human rights

Geneva 6 March 2009.

The UNOSAT programme presented at the Human Rights Watch (HRW) European Council Summit in Geneva its operational capacity and how satellite imagery is increasingly used as part of evidence gathering and prevention in the area of human rights. Dr Einar Bjorgo, head of UNOSAT’s humanitarian mapping and research activities, illustrated how satellite imagery had been used recently in support of humanitarian interventions in DRC, Somalia, Gaza Strip, Georgia and Sri Lanka. Mr Peter Bouckaert, Emergencies Director with HRW, explained how HRW makes use of UNOSAT objective analysis as supporting information in human rights research, especially because it allows for the integration of field surveys and off-site satellite derived analysis. The link between human rights issues and emerging climate change concerns was also discussed. Other speakers at the HRW Summit, which took place at the same time as the UN Human Rights Council meeting, included Ambassador Martin Uhomoibi of Nigeria – President of the UN Human Rights Council, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Michel Halpérin – Chair of HRW Geneva Committee.  A Q&A session was led by HRW Executive Director Kenneth Roth.