Discovering the future

Changing technology, tools and challenges

Technology affects every sphere of life, and conflict is no exception. In the past decade, for example, the world has witnessed the use of remotely piloted drones. More broadly speaking, governments and arms manufacturers are developing a wide range of automated and autonomous weapons as well as cyber-warfare capabilities.

As technology changes how wars are fought, international law needs to keep pace. A clear understanding of how existing laws and treaties apply to new technology must be established, and new areas of international humanitarian law may need to be explored and developed. In pursuit of these goals, the ICRC monitors new developments in weaponry and maintains a constant dialogue with States on these matters.

New opportunities

Technological change has other implications as well. Smartphones, laptop computers and improved communications networks offer new ways to respond to complex crises. Digital crisis maps, for example, allow critical information to be charted in real time via the internet or mobile-phone networks. The ICRC also has new ways of sending critical information directly to the people most in need. And victims of conflict can make their needs known more directly and specifically. This allows us to target our aid more efficiently and coordinate better with our partners.

Constant improvements

Our commitment to alleviating suffering in conflict has never wavered. It remains as strong now as when we were founded 150 years ago. And we shall continue to build on our experience to help those most in need to lead healthy, productive and dignified lives.

This digital map, developed by the Tigray Water Resource Bureau in Ethiopia and the ICRC, enables local water board members to upload data to the cloud on the status of wells and water sources. Then they can track villagers’ access to water and whether wells need to be dug or repaired.