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Policy Paper

Exploring distributed ledger applications in OCHA's Humanitarian Notification System for Deconfliction (HNS4D) active in Syria

Author:

Daniel C. Park

University of British Columbia, CA
About Daniel
Master of Public Policy and Global Affairs, Class of 2021, University of British Columbia
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Abstract

Hospitals and clinics have always been a target of airstrikes since the beginning of the Syrian civil war in 2011, costing the lives of 916 medical workers in 595 documented attacks. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) created and deployed the Humanitarian Notification System for Deconfliction (HNS4D) to address this exact problem. The location sharing scheme, however, has yet to garner enough trust on ground. Humanitarian workers fear that they will be intentionally targeted by belligerents if their location is shared with the OCHA and there are historical precedents that validate their caution. This exploratory research provides an overview of blockchain technology, including concepts in archival science to illustrate the utility of distributed and decentralized networks in deconfliction. Blockchain-based systems can immutably record and synchronize consensually shared data across multiple nodes and cryptographically chain each transaction as a means for validation. Because of this, there are significant merits in using blockchain protocols in sharing and verifying real-time locations of humanitarian assets with multiple warring parties. The underlying metadata is only revealed when necessary, which keeps workers and medical sites are safe. The findings of this research evaluate the suitability of blockchain in HNS4D, and is tailored to stakeholders looking to adopt a location sharing scheme prioritizing privacy, efficiency, and detecting alterations in their deconfliction efforts.
How to Cite: Park, D.C., 2022. Exploring distributed ledger applications in OCHA's Humanitarian Notification System for Deconfliction (HNS4D) active in Syria. The Public Sphere: Journal of Public Policy, 10(1).
Published on 20 Apr 2022.
Peer Reviewed

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