The Sentinel

Human Rights Action :: Humanitarian Response :: Health :: Education :: Heritage Stewardship ::
Sustainable Development
Week ending 8 December 2018

This weekly digest is intended to aggregate and distill key content from a broad spectrum of practice domains and organization types including key agencies/IGOs, NGOs, governments, academic and research institutions, consortia and collaborations, foundations, and commercial organizations. We also monitor a spectrum of peer-reviewed journals and general media channels. The Sentinel’s geographic scope is global/regional but selected country-level content is included. We recognize that this spectrum/scope yields an indicative and not an exhaustive product. Comments and suggestions should be directed to:

David R. Curry
GE2P2 Global Foundation – Governance, Evidence, Ethics, Policy, Practice

PDF: The Sentinel_ period ending 8 Dec 2018

:: Week in Review  [See selected posts just below]
:: Key Agency/IGO/Governments Watch – Selected Updates from 30+ entities   [see PDF]
:: INGO/Consortia/Joint Initiatives Watch – Media Releases, Major Initiatives, Research:: Foundation/Major Donor Watch -Selected Updates
:: Journal Watch – Key articles and abstracts from 100+ peer-reviewed journals  [see PDF]

IPU acts on record number of human rights abuses against MPs in 2018

Governance – Attacks on Parliamentarians

IPU acts on record number of human rights abuses against MPs in 2018
Inter-Parliamentary Union – 178 Member Parliaments and 12 Associate Members
6 December 2018
The IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians has announced the highest number of human rights violations against MPs on its books since it was established 40 years ago. The Committee treated 564 cases of parliamentarians from 43 countries in 2018. This is almost double the figure from five years ago. Most of the cases concern opposition MPs from the Americas and Asia.

The IPU Committee is the only international complaints mechanism with the mandate to defend the human rights of persecuted parliamentarians. Its work includes mobilizing the international parliamentary community to support threatened MPs, lobbying closely national authorities, and sending trial observers. The Committee is made up of 10 parliamentarians, representing the major regions of the world, and elected by their peers for a mandate of five years. Every year, on the occasion of Human Rights Day on 10 December, the Committee publishes a map of the state of MPs’ human rights in the world.

Gabriela Cuevas, IPU President, said “A violation of the human rights of parliamentarians is a clear threat to democracy. As parliamentarians we have to defend liberties, freedom, and human rights for all people. That is why a violation of the human rights of MPs is a clear signal that something isn’t working in a democratic country. Parliamentarians need to be able to fulfil their mandates unhindered to represent properly the people who elected them.”…

Statement from the Principals of OCHA, UNHCR, WFP and UNICEF on cash assistance

Humanitarian Response – Cash Assistance

Statement from the Principals of OCHA, UNHCR, WFP and UNICEF on cash assistance
05 December 2018
We, the Principals of OCHA, UNHCR, WFP and UNICEF have, in recent months, continued to engage in discussions on cash-based assistance as one of the most significant reforms in humanitarian assistance in recent years, one that helps us to better serve affected populations in a principled and dignified manner and gives them a greater decision-making role in their own lives interrupted by conflict and natural disasters. We recognize the need to improve complementarities between our mutual efforts in the field, create synergies and ensure that affected populations receive the best assistance and services in a cost-effective manner. We recognize the primary role of governments in supporting vulnerable populations and will build on, utilize and leverage existing government systems, whenever possible. With this in mind, UNHCR, UNICEF and WFP, as operational agencies delivering cash programmes alongside other forms of assistance, and OCHA agree on the following:

a) We reaffirm our commitment to provide cash (for food, non-food items and access to services and other support) through a common cash system in crises globally. We are committed to secure and fully realize the efficiency and effectiveness gains that cash assistance presents and to avoid parallel systems amongst operational agencies or the duplication of financial instruments.

b) Our priority is for cash transfers to be delivered to vulnerable populations in ways that are simple, safe and easily accessible for the recipient and maximize the value of the assistance they receive. Each person identified for cash support should be able to access humanitarian assistance from operational agencies through a common cash system.

c) This common cash system is collaborative, inclusive and builds on a single transfer mechanism approach and joint cash programming – from needs assessment to monitoring. It can be deployed in most settings, and is based on the identification of ‘shared business needs’ across agencies. The system will be ‘collectively owned, jointly governed and have clear and predictable roles, responsibilities and arrangements and will be available to multiple partners (including partners outside the UN). The governance of the system needs to give everyone confidence that costs are covered but no surplus or “profit” is generated.

d) Based on data protection principles, operational agencies will harmonize their data management approach through interoperable data systems and data sharing agreements, with the objective to move towards a common data management and tracking system based on common beneficiary lists and easy access to beneficiary identification, thereby avoiding duplication.

e) This common cash system will also encompass joint cash feasibility assessment, coordinated targeting of beneficiaries, a single transfer mechanism, joint post-distribution monitoring and pursuing accountability to affected populations through agreed complaints and feedback mechanisms.

f) Finally, we recognize that the design and delivery of cash assistance is further enhanced when other national and international actors with complementary expertise are engaged. We will collaborate in a manner that supports the primary role of governments and also engages operational actors providing cash assistance, including other humanitarian agencies and organizations, the World Bank, cash assistance networks and alliances, the private sector, and donors on this agenda.

We look forward to taking this discussion forward within the wider humanitarian system in the coming months and in line with action plan that has been developed.

The UN Flagship Report on Disability and Development 2018 – Realizing the SDGs by, for and with persons with disabilities

Development – Disabilities and the SDGs

The UN Flagship Report on Disability and Development 2018 – Realizing the SDGs by, for and with persons with disabilities
UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs
2018 :: 390 pages
Executive Summary [ Excerpts]
This report represents the first UN systemwide effort to examine disability and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the global level. The report reviews data, policies and programmes and identifies good practices; and uses the evidence it reviewed to outline recommended actions to promote the realization of the SDGs for persons with disabilities…

The report covers new areas for which no global research was previously available, for example, the role of access to energy to enable persons with disabilities to use assistive technology. It also contains the first global compilation and analysis of internationally comparable data using the Washington Group on Disability Statistics short set of questions….

The report shows that despite the progress made in recent years, persons with disabilities continue to face numerous barriers to their full inclusion and participation in the life of their communities. It sheds light on their disproportionate levels of poverty, their lack of access to education, health services, employment, their under-representation in decision-making and political participation. This is particularly the case for women and girls with disabilities. Main barriers to inclusion entail discrimination and stigma on the ground of disability, lack of accessibility to physical and virtual environments, lack of access to assistive technology, essential services, rehabilitation and support for independent living that are critical for the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities as agents of change and beneficiaries of development. Data and statistics compiled and analysed in the present report indicate that persons with disabilities are not yet sufficiently included in the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the SDGs…


Media Release
First-ever UN report on disability and development, illustrates inclusion gaps
3 December 2018, New York
The United Nations launched its first-ever flagship report on disability and development on Monday; published by, for, and with, persons with disabilities, in the hopes of fostering more accessible, and disability-inclusive societies…Secretary-General António Guterres said the report “shows that people with disabilities are at a disadvantage” regarding most SDGs, “but also highlights the growing number of good practices that can create a more inclusive society in which they can live independently.”’

“In many societies, persons with disabilities often end up disconnected, living in isolation and facing discrimination,” he said, highlighting that more than one billion people in the world live with some form of disability.

The report demonstrates how disability-based discrimination has severe effects on transport, cultural life, and access to public places and services, and thus, the report leads with a push to change urban environments to make them more accessible.

The above challenges often go unseen as a result of insufficient questions relevant to disability, and consequently, an underestimation of the number of persons living with disabilities and affected by discrimination, and other barriers…

World Bank Group Launches Innovation Challenge to Strengthen Data Privacy and Empower the World’s ‘Invisible Billion’

Digital Identity – Privacy/Protection

World Bank Group Launches Innovation Challenge to Strengthen Data Privacy and Empower the World’s ‘Invisible Billion’
One billion people are unable to prove their identity, which can exclude them from economic opportunities and vital services such as education and healthcare

Washington, D.C., December 7th, 2018 –The World Bank Group’s Identification for Development (ID4D) initiative announced the launch of the Mission Billion Challenge to make the ‘invisible billion’ – the number of people who still cannot prove who they are –, visible. Mission Billion will crowdsource innovative solutions to strengthen data privacy in digital identification systems and empower users to have greater control of their personal data. The Challenge offers cash prizes totaling US$100,000 with the top prize of US$50,000 for the most promising solutions that enhance trust and protect personal data from being misused or compromised.

Despite significant progress in recent years, one billion people are still unable to prove their identity, and many more have forms of identification that cannot be reliably verified or authenticated. In the digital age, the lack of trusted identification often results in exclusion from economic opportunities, and social and political rights. The poorest and most vulnerable often face the highest risk of being excluded and there is a significant gender gap with nearly one in two women in low-income countries lacking an ID. Without a secure and trusted way to prove their identity, people struggle to open a bank account, enroll in school, access health and social services, or obtain a mobile phone.

“Digital identification systems can play a transformational role across key areas such as financial inclusion, access to services and social safety nets, and effective humanitarian response. Yet this can also create important privacy challenges,” said Makhtar Diop, Vice President for Infrastructure, World Bank. “The Mission Billion Challenge offers an exciting opportunity to tap into the most creative minds to help us design digital identification systems to enhance data protection and empower people with greater control over their personal data.”

The Mission Billion Challenge seeks new, practical ideas for ‘privacy by design’ features that can be embedded into digital identification systems to address the potential risks that arise from collecting, using and managing personal data such as data protection and cybersecurity challenges.

Strengthening trust of these systems and empowering people to have greater control over their personal data is vital to closing the identification gap. The importance of data privacy is highlighted in the Principles on Identification for Sustainable Development, which have been signed onto by 24 international organizations and development partners as being fundamental to maximizing the benefits of digital identification systems.

Alongside this Challenge, the WBG’s ID4D Initiative is working to support approximately 40 countries on other critical features of ‘Good ID’, including developing legal frameworks that promote trust in digital identification systems, the use of technical standards to facilitate interoperability and avoid vendor and technology lock-in, and adoption of inclusive approaches.

The Challenge is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Australian Government, Omidyar Network, in collaboration with the World Economic Forum. Mission Billion will be powered by the MIT Solve platform, an initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that uses open innovation and crowdsourcing to solve global challenges. Through MIT’s award-winning platform, innovators and organizations, wherever they are in the world, can submit their solution to this Challenge…

Individuals and organizations with a strong passion for developing innovative solutions are encouraged to apply. Submitted solutions to the Challenge will be reviewed by a group of experts in digital identification, data security, and international development. Finalists will be invited to a high-level event to present their solutions in front of distinguished judges around the World Bank Group’s Spring Meetings in Washington D.C. in April 2019.

The Mission Billion Challenge is open. The submission deadline is February 24, 2019. To learn more about the Challenge, visit: Click here to submit your solution.

The humanitarian metadata problem: ‘Doing no harm’ in the digital era

Humanitarian Response – Digital Infrastructure, Privacy, Risk

The humanitarian metadata problem: ‘Doing no harm’ in the digital era
ICRC, Privacy International
October 2018 :: 130 pages
About this study
New technologies continue to present great risks and opportunities for humanitarian action. To ensure that their use does not result in any harm, humanitarian organisations must develop and implement appropriate data protection standards, including robust risk assessments.
However, this requires a good understanding of what these technologies are, what risks are associat-ed with their use, and how we can try to avoid or mitigate them. The following study tries to answer these questions in an accessible manner. The aim is to provide people who work in the humanitarian sphere with the knowledge they need to understand the risks involved in the use of certain new technologies. This paper also discusses the “do no harm” principle and how it applies in a digital environment.
This study was commissioned by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to Privacy International (PI). The study does not advocate for privacy or against surveillance. Rather, it maps out where surveillance may obstruct or threaten the neutral, impartial and independent nature of humanitarian action…

Executive summary
The past decade has seen a surge in the use of mobile telecommunica¬tions, messaging apps and social media. As they become more acces¬sible around the world, these technologies are also being used by the humanitarian sector to coordinate responses, communicate with staff and volunteers, and engage with the people they serve.

These exchanges lead to an increase in metadata: data about other data. In their most common form, metadata are the data that are generated around a message, but not the content of the message. Imagine that you are a clerk at the post office: content data would be information contained inside each parcel that comes your way. These content data are often pro¬tected by law and other technical safeguards. However, metadata – data that are found on the outside of the parcel or that can be inferred from the parcel’s appearance – are often less well protected. They can be accessed and read by third parties as they pass through the postal system.

What are metadata?
Today there are many forms of such data. In this report, we differentiate between declared data, inferred data, and interest or intent data. These data can be owned, processed, shared and stored for different periods of time, by different third parties, and under different jurisdictions applying different regulations.

This complex landscape requires that humanitarian organisations learn how to more systematically assess, understand, and mitigate the risks involved in programme activities that generate metadata.

Main findings
Why should the humanitarian sector care about metadata?
Humanitarian organisations collect and generate growing amounts of metadata. They do this through their exchanges internally and with people affected by crises (e.g. sharing “info-as-aid” over messaging apps and/or via SMS and social media); their programmes (e.g. cash-transfer programmes that use mobile cash or smartcards); and their monitoring and evaluation systems (e.g. using data analytics on programme data to detect fraud).

To reconcile these actions with the “do no harm” principle, the humani¬tarian community must better understand the risks associated with the
generation, exposure and processing of metadata. This is particularly important for organisations that enjoy certain privileges and immunities but that are not able to counter these risks alone.

Processing data and metadata
Specifically, humanitarian organisations need to better understand how data and metadata collected or generated by their programmes, for human¬itarian purposes, can be accessed and used by other parties for non-hu¬manitarian purposes (e.g. by profiling individuals and using these profiles for ad targeting, commercial exploitation, surveillance, and/or repression).

For instance, information about an individual registered for a cash-trans¬fer programme can be accessed and used by the financial institution implementing the programme. The institution can then use this informa¬tion to categorise the individual as a non-trustworthy borrower, thereby limiting their access to financial services. If the institution has infor¬mation-sharing agreements with other institutions that are part of the same financial group, this sort of profiling can prevent the individual from accessing those institutions’ services as well.

Understanding the legal and policy landscape
To fully appreciate such situations, humanitarian organisations should map out who exactly has access to the data and metadata they generate and for how long. These factors are affected by the technical, legal and policy land¬scapes, which vary greatly despite efforts to streamline regulations (through initiatives like the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, for example).

These landscapes are also changing as expanded access to data is sought by both public entities (e.g. to combat crime or follow migration flows) and private ones (e.g. to monetise user data or improve their business mod¬els). Moreover, some service providers may have an obligation to disclose data or metadata. For instance, a number of banks are obliged to flag “suspicious activity” on their client’s accounts or collect information about clients under Know Your Customer regulations designed to prevent money laundering and other criminal activity.

Where services intersect
The following section summarises the risks associated with the use of traditional telecommunication services (including voice and SMS), mes¬saging applications, cash-transfer programming and social media. While each type of service is discussed separately, they may overlap where fi¬nancial companies are also telecommunication companies or where social media providers also own messaging applications. This has implications for the amount of data and metadata any given entity has access to or can generate and for the variety of jurisdictions under which these data are generated and stored…


Press Release
Digital trails could endanger people receiving humanitarian aid, ICRC and Privacy International find
Geneva (ICRC) – 07-12-2018 The humanitarian sector’s growing use of digital and mobile technologies creates records that can be accessed and misused by third parties, potentially putting people receiving humanitarian aid at risk, a joint report from Privacy International and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has found.

The report – The humanitarian metadata problem: ‘Doing no harm’ in the digital era – explains how third parties could, for example, look at the metadata of someone’s mobile telephone messages to infer details like sleep patterns, travel routines or frequent contacts. That kind of information could pose risks to a person in a conflict environment.

“The ICRC hopes the report influences other humanitarian organizations to better protect their data,” said Charlotte-Lindsey Curtet, the organization’s newly appointed Director of Digital Transformation and Data. “Collaborating more closely with experts like Privacy International can help us to better mitigate these kinds of risks, in order to do no harm in a changing digital environment.”

The report details what metadata is collected or generated when humanitarian organizations use telecommunications, messaging apps or social media in their work. While the report doesn’t advocate for privacy or against surveillance, it demonstrates how ensuing surveillance risks could obstruct or threaten the neutral, impartial and independent nature of humanitarian action.

To remedy this, the report recommends a more systematic mapping of who has access to what information in order to anticipate how individuals might be profiled or discriminated against. It also encourages humanitarian organisations to improve digital literacy among their staff, volunteers – and most importantly, the people they serve.

“Technology is crucial if we want to engage with and better serve the needs of people we can’t physically access,” said Philippe Stoll, Head of Communication Policy and Support. “But using these platforms means creating an information trail we neither own nor control, and that’s something we must get better at anticipating.”

The report’s findings and recommendations will form part of the discussions at the ICRC’s Symposium on Digital Risks in Situations of Armed Conflict, taking place 11-12 December in London. Nearly 200 participants from humanitarian organisations, United Nations agencies, private tech companies, academia and government will attend.

The LEGO Foundation awards $100 million to Sesame Workshop to bring the power of learning through play to children affected by the Rohingya and Syrian refugee crises


The LEGO Foundation awards $100 million to Sesame Workshop to bring the power of learning through play to children affected by the Rohingya and Syrian refugee crises
Press Release December 5, 2018
New program will provide critical new insights into effective models of learning through play for children affected by crisis
New York, NY, December 5, 2018 — Today, the LEGO Foundation announced that it is awarding a $100 million grant to Sesame Workshop to ensure that young children affected by the Rohingya and Syrian crises have opportunities to learn through play and develop the skills needed for the future. Working in partnership with BRAC, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and New York University’s Global TIES for Children, Sesame Workshop will reach children affected by crises in Bangladesh and the Syrian response region with early childhood and play-based learning opportunities.

The $100 million grant from the LEGO Foundation will benefit some of the world’s most vulnerable children and call attention to the critical importance of learning through play to set them on a path of healthy growth and development. The LEGO Foundation is the first to step up and meet the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s call for the bold philanthropy needed to transform the way the humanitarian system serves children affected by crisis in early childhood…

“This partnership marks the first step of the LEGO Foundation’s commitment to work within the humanitarian field to support children’s holistic development that incorporates learning through play. We hope to inspire other funders, humanitarian actors, world leaders and governments to act and urgently prioritise support for play-based early childhood development for children in humanitarian crises—a vastly overlooked but vital component in the progress of humanitarian aid. We hope that young children impacted by these crises will have opportunities to benefit from learning through play and also develop the skills needed for them to thrive in the future,” says Thomas Kirk Kristiansen, Chairman of the LEGO Foundation Board and 4th generation owner of the LEGO Group…

“Research shows that not only is play vital for children’s psychological, emotional and cognitive health and development, but it also hones the resilience they need to overcome adversity and build their futures. Early adverse experiences negatively affect the development of brain architecture, which provides the foundation for all future learning, behavior and health. By providing play-based learning to children in crisis, we can help mitigate the detrimental, long term effects of displacement and trauma, ultimately giving a generation of refugee children a path forward,” says John Goodwin, CEO of the LEGO Foundation.

Sesame Workshop will use the $100 million grant to implement quality, play-based early childhood interventions, working in partnership with BRAC and IRC…

“With the LEGO Foundation’s extraordinary award, Sesame Workshop and our partners have an unprecedented opportunity to reach and teach some of the world’s most vulnerable children by harnessing the power of learning through play,” said Jeffrey D. Dunn, President & CEO of Sesame Workshop. “The global refugee crisis is the humanitarian issue of our time, and we are deeply humbled by the trust the LEGO Foundation has placed in us to uplift the lives of children affected by conflict. Together with our partners at BRAC, the IRC, and NYU, we can forge a legacy for children worldwide affected by displacement, today and for generations to come.”…

NYU’s Global TIES for Children has been selected as the independent evaluation partner for the program and will implement an evidence-based research and evaluation program, which will deepen understanding around play-based early childhood interventions in humanitarian contexts.
Sesame Workshop will receive the $100 million grant over a 5-year period, with funds released as established milestones are met.