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Remote Sensing to Monitor Human Rights Violations

People living today observe the rise of the new era characterized by the wide use of digital technologies and their wide implementation into different spheres of human activities. The emergence of new devices and software provides society with new options to improve the standards of their living or assist communities in need. For this reason, organizations such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) introduce several projects to monitor the state of human rights in different regions and determine the necessity of particular interventions that might help to improve peoples lives in the problematic area. For instance, application of the remote sensing technology in Syria helps to reveal cases of human rights violations and provide information about it to some organizations.

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The Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) needed information about the state of health facilities in the biggest cities in Syria. For this reason, the Geospatial Technologies and Human Rights Project of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) conducted an in-depth study of the area using satellite imaginary to collect data and conclude about the existence or absence of a particular problem1. The devices were utilized to assess the state of Aleppo, Douma, Homs, Idlib, and Tafas2. The pivotal aim of the project was the verification of existing reports made in traditional ways about the damage and deconstruction of these facilities3. In such a way, the technology was applied to monitor the state of human rights in the region as the ability to access care is one of the critical points regarding this aspect.

The technology selected to accomplish this task provided high-resolution satellite imagery depicting each of the five cities selected for the assessment. These photos were aligned with the known attack dates to trace alterations in the state of facilities and damage caused to them by military actions4. In such a way, all pieces of evidence related to substantial harm were collected by satellites and then provided to agencies that ordered this investigation. The credibility of data comes from the high accuracy of satellites used for the research and their ability to offer detailed images of the investigated area. Information collected with the help of these technologies became an important factor helping to prove devastations and human rights violations.

As it has already been stated, the research was ordered by Amnesty International, USA (AIUSA). The given organization performs multiple activities including the monitoring of the states of particular regions to determine if there are a humanitarian crisis and some intervention to improve the quality of peoples lives are needed5. For this reason, the investigation becomes an important part of the AIUSAs activity aimed at monitoring the situation in the world and the cessation of the development of crucial problems. Verification of traditional reports made by social media is fundamental for the analysis of the issue as their relevance is often doubted. For this reason, the use of technology helps to solve this problem and acquire credible data.

The collected facts were analyzed by the agency to determine the severity of devastation and harm done by military operations in the region. Data assessment included several procedures. First of all, specialists investigated the acquired photos to analyze the degree to which health facilities are damaged and conclude about their abilities to provide care to patients6. Second, new images were compared to the previous ones to admit all changes that happened in the region and mention them in reports7. Finally, the basis for new investigations was created by making notes and leaving landmarks to trace what changes occurred in the area8. This procedure helped to analyze data and acquired the needed information.

In general, the given approach and type of analysis can be considered an appropriate choice regarding the peculiarities of the task and the need for particular information. The use of satellites making detailed photos is one of the best options as the technology guarantees the increased relevance of the acquired pieces of data. At the same time, these images can be analyzed by specialists’ teams who work to find out recent devastations and the way they emerged. In such a way, the choice of the method is justified by the aim of the study.

Altogether, the use of modern technologies provides multiple options for various agencies that assess situations regarding human rights and their violations. At the same time, this technology has many advantages if compared with traditional approaches. For instance, AIUSA used satellites because the region is seized by war and it is impossible to send a team there to collect credible data. At the same time, the information provided by media cannot be trusted and should be checked to guarantee its relevance. In such a way, the use of advanced technologies can be considered a potent tool to monitor the quality of peoples lives in different regions and suggest particular interventions to improve this aspect and help people.

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“Assessing the Status of Medical Facilities in Syria.” AAAS. Web.


  1. “Assessing the Status of Medical Facilities in Syria,” AAAS, Web.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid.

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