George Clooney Satellites and Human Rights Action in Sudan
It hasn’t been that long since the open source satellite initiative gathered a lot of public interest because of the newly born DYI process of building a satellite(except for launching), which paved the possibility of regular people to develop their private satellite.
Today, though, a program presented to us by the activist George Clooney showing us a similar idea, where the public can become actively involved in the process of using a satellite to monitor human rights.
It is one more proof of a new space usage paradigm shift, where space programs stopped getting limited to governments and the military. They are now also available to private initiatives, and possibly even to amateurs, providing there are some years of research, satellite engineering expertise, and of course, money.
Very recently, George Clooney seems to be the front face of a new Satellite and human rights platform the satsentinel.org. This platform works in collaboration with “Not On Our Watch”, Google, UNOSAT, the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, Enough! Project and Trellon, according to their website.
Apparently the general idea for this project seems to be the gathering of multimedia information with a satellite to provide a platform where relevant information can get sent to humanitarian initiatives with the aim of pressuring policy makers to respond rapidly and appropriately. The data to be gathered is in regarding subjects of human rights and human security concerns. They also have a direct call to action on their website, and that gets their visitors a chance to get involved.
According to a message on their website from George Clooney and John Prendergast, “the possibility of a return to war remains high as Southern Sudan prepares for independence.”
“One of the biggest risks in this dangerous moment is that an incident on the highly armed border could lead to wider conflict.” because, and “according to the former director of national intelligence, “Southern Sudan is the place in the world most likely to experience genocide.”
This message also calls our attention to the fact that they were late to Rwanda, Congo, and Darfur, but that “now we can witness in near real-time and put all parties on notice that if they commit war crimes.”
It will be interesting to watch what will the practical results be, now that the world knows there is a literal spotlight in real-time on that region. Will it be able to effectively record any conflicts, faulty human rights, or even help detect and deter anything concrete on perpetrators, only time will tell.