Dr Beduschi argued that the development of new technologies can affect States’ capabilities for the identification of individuals in need of protection.

Dr Beduschi spoke at the American Society of International Law Midyear Research Forum in St Louis, USA on 28 October 2017

Dr Ana Beduschi presented her research on the implications of new technologies based on big data analysis for State obligations under international human rights law in the context of international migration.

Technology is an important feature of the ongoing global migration crisis. Migrants and refugees use mobile phones and online services to communicate with other migrants and their family members, to find better routes, and to stay informed. Advances in technology allow for more accurate analysis of the data and metadata generated by their mobile devices (e.g. mobile applications recording geolocation, online searches, phone calls), determining specific behavioural patterns and human interactions. This could lead to finding the individuals’ specific location and movement patterns in the physical world. Such technologies could be used, for example, to inform better decision-making in the context of large movements of people. Yet, research is still scarce in relation to the use of big data analysis in international migration.

Dr Beduschi argued that the development of new technologies can affect States’ capabilities for the identification of individuals in need of protection. Provided that protection is mandated by international human rights instruments, this can have important consequences for State positive obligations. She discussed the main benefits and challenges of the uses of new technologies for the identification of vulnerable individuals such as migrants at risk of dying in vessels unfit for sail at sea, and unaccompanied migrant children, who are exposed to greater risks of abuse, violence and trafficking.

Research for this paper was supported in part by the ESRC in the context of the project Building Digital Identities: A Scoping Study led by Dr Beduschi in 2016-2017.

The American Society of International Law has hosted a Midyear Meeting since 2010. The Society's nearly 4,000 members from more than 100 nations include attorneys, academics, corporate counsel, judges, representatives of governments and non-governmental organizations, international civil servants, students, and others interested in international law. For its 8th edition, the Research Forum featured cutting-edge international law scholarship. The meeting took place on the 27 and 28 October 2017 and was organised in partnership with the Washington University in St Louis, School of Law.

Date: 31 October 2017

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