The student-led movement to end mass atrocities.

A different approach to preventing conflict?


Written by Aaron Alberico

Could Predator Drones help prevent the next genocide? Wired Magazine reports that some Pentagon officials are considering the use of Predator Drones and other overhead-surveillance technologies to develop an early warning system able to identify mass atrocities as they develop. A tool once used by the military to deliver destruction on the battle field, such technology could be re-purposed to save lives.

The idea of Mass Atrocity Prevention and Response Operations (MAPRO) has gathered momentum in the Pentagon, largely through the work of Rosa Brooks, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for rule of law and international humanitarian policy. The core of the MAPRO initiative is about saving lives without putting U.S. troops in the middle of foreign quagmires. According to Brooks, as atrocities take place around the world, America is left with two options: do nothing and rely on diplomacy, or send 30,000 troops. MAPRO would afford policy actors more options: detection, deterrence, and possibly limited intervention. The ability to document atrocities provides a “power deterrent,” Brooks suggest. A drone snapping pictures of trucks of militia heading to a besieged village may leave a Dictator thinking twice if one day that footage could be entered into evidence in a genocide trial.  

Brook’s team suggests other techniques the military could use to deter massacres, including radio jamming (think jamming Rwanda radio airwaves prior to the April 1994 genocide), leveraging crowd-sourced date, and mining social networks. “We want to be able to say, ‘Mr. President, DOD can offer a much wider range of options beyond sending in the Marines,” Brooks says. “Potentially every [military] asset has some atrocity prevention and response value, if you get creative about it.”

Find Wired’s original story written by Spencer Ackerman here: “Pentagon: Drones Can Stop the Next Darfur

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