Opportunities and Challenges of Emerging Technologies for the Refugee System

WRC Research Paper No. 11

May 7, 2019

Efforts are being made to use information and communications technologies to improve accountability in providing refugee aid. However, there remains a pressing need for increased accountability and transparency when designing and deploying humanitarian technologies. This paper outlines the challenges and opportunities of emerging technologies, such as machine learning and blockchain, in the refugee system. The paper concludes by recommending the creation of quantifiable metrics for sharing information across both public and private initiatives; the creation of the equivalent of a “Hippocratic oath” for technologists working in the humanitarian field; the development of predictive early-warning systems for human rights abuses; and greater accountability among funders and technologists to ensure the sustainability and real-world value of humanitarian apps and other digital platforms.

Part of Series

World Refugee Council Research Paper Series

Research papers are policy documents commissioned by the World Refugee Council from world-renowned experts to help inform the work of the Council and its final recommendations. The measures and concepts in these documents do not necessarily reflect the views of the World Refugee Council.

About the Author

Roya Pakzad is a research associate and project leader in technology and human rights at Stanford University’s Global Digital Policy Incubator (GDPi) and Stanford’s program in Iranian Studies.