The Rise of GEOINT: Technology, Intelligence and Human Rights
The “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) doctrine and the increasingly interventionist position of UN-mandated peacekeeping operations testify to fundamental changes in the international community’s response to humanitarian and human rights crises. Part of this development involves a growing reliance upon technology designed for the modern battlefield but adapted for peacekeeping operations, which has resulted in the emerging field of human rights-oriented Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT) analysis. Centered on visual imagery derived from remote sensing (RS) platforms such as satellites and drones, GEOINT serves to imbed distinct, militaristic epistemologies into human rights narratives. As such, this chapter explores the “vertical geopolitics” of RS imagery and questions the “view from nowhere” that underlies GEOINT. A review of the UN mission in the D.R.C (MONUSCO) highlights both the positive and negative implications that the adoption of GEOINT has had on the rhetoric and practice of crisis response and humanitarian intervention in the twenty-first century.
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