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SC: Technology and Peacekeeping

Statement by Deputy Permanent Representative Odd-Inge Kvalheim on Technology and Peacekeeping, 18 August 2021.

As technological advances continue at a breath-taking pace, it is most timely that the UN Security Council meets to discuss the role of technology for UN peacekeeping. Let me therefore start by thanking India for arranging this debate, and for presenting a Presidential Statement on how we can move forward on this important issue. 

Peacekeeping operations are one of the world community’s most effective tools for the promotion and maintenance of international peace and security. It is our responsibility to enable them to optimize their effectiveness and ensure that they can deliver on their mandated tasks.

To that end we need to make sure that peace operations are set up in the best way possible – also when it comes to the use of relevant technologies.

Norway fully agrees with the focus given to technology as a cross-cutting issue in the preparations for the Seoul ministerial. We are convinced that this focus will help ensure that further progress can be made in the current implementation phase of the Action for peacekeeping initiative, also known as A4P+.

Norway welcomes the Strategy for the Digital Transformation of Peacekeeping. It is an important contribution to the Secretary-General’s vision statement in which he identified digital transformation as an imperative for the next five years.

Norway fully concurs with the emphasis placed on the use of technology to enhance the safety and security of peacekeepers. And strengthening the capacity to protect civilians is a key Norwegian priority.

We will therefore provide funding to a project undertaken by the Department of Peace Operations that is using data and technology to enhance performance on the protection of civilians by UN operations. This includes the SAGE database and the UNITE Aware platform.

Norway is a strong believer in the importance of making active use of technology to enhance political processes. Political process is conducive to the establishment of a protective environment – to the benefit of both peacekeepers and civilians.

Equally important, an inclusive political process is vital in laying the ground for lasting peace. Digital technologies can play a key role in that regard, through the facilitation of an analytical, gender-responsive, forward-looking understanding of conflict environments. 

However, one cannot simply assume that active use of digital and other technologies will change everything for the better.

Norway therefore welcomes the guiding principles for the digital transformation strategy, which includes “do-no-harm, inclusion and transparency, and sustainability and scalability”. Those principles are equally relevant regarding the use of other technologies. In this regard, it is critical that that the digital dignity of affected people is preserved by protecting their personal data.

To move forward, we need to ensure that discussions on the use of technology are integrated in all aspects of the peacekeeping planning process. Moreover, the use of the various technologies should continuously be evaluated and adapted as the missions progress and lessons are learned.

And we need to engage in partnership and cooperation. Not only within UN and between Members States, but also with those who develop new technologies; the think tanks, the private sector, academia, and NGOs.

The questions we should ask include the following:

• Which technologies have the greatest potential to enhance the implementation of peacekeeping mandates?

• What are the main obstacles regarding the use of new technologies in UN peace operations?, and

• What risks do their use pose? And how can we strengthen protection and safeguards against those risks and ensure that their use is in accordance with international law, including international human rights law obligations and international humanitarian law.