By: Katie Leach
Data pervades all aspects of the United Nations’ work, and is critical to the global agendas we serve. This is especially true of the UN’s Peace and Security pillar, in which valuable data is essential in informing operational decisions, improving situational awareness and enhancing the safety and security of UN personnel and the communities we serve.
October 2021 witnessed a step forward in the UN’s data potential, with the launch of the Peace and Security Data Hub at the World Data Forum (WDF). The WDF was hosted by the Federal Statistical Office of Switzerland in Bern, from 3–6 October, bringing together data and statistical experts from governments, civil society, the commercial sector, media and academia to spark data innovation and mobilise sustainable support for data projects. It was an ideal context for the launch of the Data Hub, which aims to break down bureaucratic divides and empower users with accessible data and knowledge.
The Hub, which is publicly available, can be used for a range of purposes, including answering enquiries from Member States, responding to student’s research questions or providing statistics for national policy debates on peacekeeping. The Our Data Stories section of the Hub highlights this, considering such questions as “is peacekeeping getting more dangerous?”, “how much do peacekeeping operations cost?”, or “has women’s meaningful participation in peace processes improved peace processes since the year 2000?”
Prior to the development of the Data Hub, and other initiatives under the Data Strategy, accessing up-to-date and relevant peace and security data was challenging. In 2016, the International Peacekeeping Journal remarked that whilst certain peace specialists who regularly engage in quantitative research are often familiar with new and existing datasets, the broader community of peace and conflict researchers are often unaware of the significant progress that has been made in this field. The Data Hub marks noteworthy progress in alleviating this challenge and enhancing accountability, by collating data and information on one, easy-to-use platform.
At the 2021 Seoul UN Peacekeeping Ministerial in December 2021, 62 Member States pledge resources for peacekeeping missions. One focus of these pledges was training, specifically on the use of technology and data to improve situational awareness and early warning, increase awareness of data privacy and ethics, and general data literacy for incoming commanding officers and senior mission leaders. Member States also supported the Strategy for the Digital Transformation through partnerships with other Member States, to improve pre-deployment and in-Mission training on data-driven tools that identify, analyse, and prioritize threats to civilians and peacekeepers.
You can now access the Data Hub online and explore stories that look beyond the numbers, of how UN peacekeepers use data to drive everyday decisions and actions to best serve communities.