Thursday, May 18, 2017
The United Nations reported earlier this week on a new partnership with Microsoft to develop more sophisticated technologies to track and report on human rights abuses. For the most part, this is exciting news that promises some important breakthroughs, as Microsoft contributes $5 million to the effort over the next 5 years. The UN has already taken steps to engage business in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and it's certainly clear that many aspects of the international human rights agenda cannot be fully achieved without private involvement and even leadership. Indeed, many UN agencies have been financially stretched to the breaking point by the international refugee crisis and other challenges of the 21st century. And this private contribution comes at a time when the U.S. has indicated that it may substantially cut its own contributions to the UN. Still, while UN human rights leaders will no doubt put Microsoft's funds to good use, it's hard not to bemoan the fact that the UN must depend on the largesse of business to sustain its basic human rights operations.
Bonus track: for a broader perspective on challenges facing the UN and the impact of American First policies, check out the podcast interview of Ted Piccone at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law.