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Are New Technologies an Aid to Reputation as a Disciplinarian?

  • Lorna McGregor (a1)

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Kristina Daugirdas offers a different vantage point from most scholarship on the accountability of international organizations (IOs) by examining whether a focus on reputation can address accountability deficits. In this regard, reputational concerns could pressure international organizations to act by, for example, waiving immunity. In this essay, I explore the relationship between reputation and accountability through the prism of new technologies. Koettl, Murray, and Dubberley highlight four technological developments—“satellite imagery, camera-enabled portable phones, digital social networks and publicly accessible data”—that underpin “human rights investigations in the digital age.” This essay focuses on two of these technologies in particular: the use of new technologies to capture voice and image recordings of potential violations and the role of social media in amplifying allegations. I suggest that they can open routes to accountability in three ways. First, they expose and document claims of wrongdoing. Second, they provide corroborating evidence and thereby encourage victims to come forward. Third, they amplify claims and build public pressure and campaigns for accountability through social media. All three routes, individually or collectively, may lead to direct accountability as well as a structural analysis of how to prevent violations in the future. I then identify the factors that may elevate or reduce the levels by which an IO deems its reputation to be at risk and therefore responds, rather than deciding to “ride out” damage stemming from allegations of wrongdoing and a failure to act on them.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Footnotes

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This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council [grant number ES/M010236/1].

Footnotes

References

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1 Much of this scholarship focuses on the availability of immunities to international organizations. For an example, see generally Carla Ferstman, International Organizations And The Fight For Accountability: The Remedies And Reparation Gap (2017).

2 Kristina Daugirdas, Reputation as a Disciplinarian of International Organizations, 113 AJIL 221 (2019).

3 Christoph Koettl et al., Open Source Investigations for Human Rights Reporting: A Brief History, in Digital Witness: Using Open Source Information for Human Rights Investigation, Documentation and Accountability (Sam Dubberley et al. eds., forthcoming 2019).

4 Daugirdas, supra note 2, at 268.

5 Zara Rahman & Gabriela Ivens, Ethics in Open Source Investigations, in Dubberley et al., supra note 3.

6 Alexa Koenig, Open Source Evidence and Human Rights Cases: A Modern Social History, in Dubberley et al., supra note 3.

7 Philip Alston & Sarah Knuckey, The Transformation of Human Rights Fact-Finding: Challenges and Opportunities, in The Transformation of Human Rights Fact-Finding 13 (Philip Alston & Sarah Knuckey eds., 2016).

8 See generally Rahman & Ivens, supra note 5; Molly Land & Jay Aronson, The Promise and Peril of Human Rights Technology, in New Technologies for Human Rights Law and Practice (Molly Land & Jay Aronson eds., 2018).

9 Ella McPherson et al., Open Source Investigations and the Technology-Driven Knowledge Controversy in Human Rights Fact-Finding, in Dubberley et al., supra note 3.

10 Id.

11 Alexa Koenig, Open Source Investigations for Legal Accountability: Challenges and Best Practices, in Dubberley et al., supra note 3.

12 Daugirdas, supra note 2, at 268.

13 See generally Koettl et al, supra note 3. See also Rahman & Ivens, supra note 5.

14 See generally Koettl et al., supra note 3.

15 Claire Wardle & Hossein Derakhshan, Information Disorder. Toward an Interdisciplinary Framework for Research and Policymaking (Council of Europe Report DGI(2017)09, Sept. 27, 2017). See also European Commission, A Multi-Dimensional Approach to Disinformation (Mar. 12, 2018).

16 Paul Stephan, What Should We Ask Reputation to Do?, 113 AJIL Unbound ___ (2019).

17 Antonio Guterres, Remarks to the Human Rights Council (Feb. 25, 2019).

18 Daugirdas, supra note 2, at 230-32.

19 Cathryn Evans, Can Social Media Damage Your Right to a Fair Trial?, RightsInfo (Oct. 18, 2017).

This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council [grant number ES/M010236/1].

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