At Your Fingertips ….. International Law Apps

At Your Fingertips ….. International Law Apps

It’s becoming a trend …. international law apps that aim to influence policy makers and engage the public. The app for “Children and Armed Conflict” (sponsored in part by the Mission of Liechtenstein)  collates information on the legal framework and grave violations relevant to the effects of armed conflict on children, as well as providing recent news, background information on country situations, relevant Security Council resolutions, and even a checklist for drafting new mandates.  As the app’s homepage explains:  ”with this application we aim to provide policy-makers and those seeking to influence them with readily available key documents and appropriate language on child protection issues in order to increase the agenda’s impact.”    This note by the International Peace Institute indicates how useful the app is in situating what may appear to be isolated incidents within large trends.

There is also an app titled “Safe Access to Firewood and alternative Energy” which addresses the lack of safe access to cooking fuel in humanitarian situations.   This app uses decision trees and matrices on roles and responsibilities to develop strategies for long term fuel supply and identify the responsible agencies and working groups.

An app titled “Women, Peace & Security Handbook” provides a compendium of resolutions that address issues relevant to women, peace and security on topics such as:  sexual exploitation, displacement, and participation.    This app serves as a mini-handbook, providing up to date information on thematic trends within Security Council resolutions.

A movement is now afoot to develop a new Sanctions App that would provide information to practitioners on the design of UN sanctions.  According to preliminary materials distribution by the Swiss Mission to the UN the “Sanctions App (an iPhone, iPad, or android application) would be based on links to relevant operative paragraphs of UNSCRs and also contain interactive features to enable real-time access to various databases while draft texts of new sanctions resolutions are being developed.”

These apps coincide with the proliferation of apps for charitable giving and advocacy on various issues including immigration and protest.  Even the Red Cross has entered the fray, developing apps that will apply in humanitarian emergencies.

Are these apps the leading edge in the growth of international law, and can we see more to come?  Or, might the high costs associated with entry and design keep tightly funded organizations from entering the space?  What do OJ readers think?

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Carlos Esposito

I would add Seafood Watch to the list. It’s an app developed by the Monterrey Bay Aquarium to help individuals find ocean-friendly seafood. It may be nice to have a list of international law apps somewhere on the blog.

David Koller, Watchlist

Thanks for drawing attention to these apps. One of the motivations behind Watchlist’s and Liechtenstein’s Children and Armed Conflict app is to address the sheer overload of data which Security Council experts and others encounter as well as their lack of available time by providing relevant background information, analysis and directly implementable recommendations in their hands. Feedback is already very positive, but it’s a relatively new initiative, so any feedback would be very welcome.
Fortunately, there are at least a few governments like Liecthenstein and Switzerland who see the promise in and have supported these tools. Design and entry costs are of course only the initial hurdle. Another big challenge is keeping them up-to-date and relevant. The work required just to keep up to date can be extensive depending on the app, and identifying the evolving needs of the target users can also be a challenge – so, again, any feedback always is appreciated!