UNITE Aware Platform to help protect U.N. peacekeepers


Presiding over a United Nations Security Council open debate on technology and peacekeeping, his first as External Affairs Minister announced the rollout of a technological platform in partnership with the U.N., ‘ UNITE Aware’, to help enhance the safety of U.N. peacekeepers. 


Prelims, GS-II: International Relations (Important International Institutions), GS-III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. UN Peacekeeping forces
  2. What is UNITE Aware

UN Peacekeeping Forces

  • UN Peacekeeping is a joint effort which deploys troops and police from around the world, integrating them with civilian peacekeepers to address a range of mandates set by the UN Security Council (UNSC) and the General Assembly.
  • This joint effort between the Department of Peace Operations and the Department of Operational Support helps countries navigate the difficult path from conflict to peace.
  • According to the UN Charter, every Member State is legally obligated to pay their respective share for peacekeeping.
  • India is a major contributing nation to UN peacekeeping activities as there are more than 5.5 thousand troops and police from India who have been deployed to nine different UN peacekeeping missions currently (India is the second highest amongst troop-contributing countries).
  • More than 200,000 Indians have served in 49 of the 71 UN peacekeeping missions established around the world since 1948, and India also has a long tradition of sending women on UN peacekeeping missions.
  • The financial resources of UN Peacekeeping operations are the collective responsibility of UN Member States.

What is UNITE Aware?

  • UNITE Aware is a platform that utilises modern surveillance technology for real time threat assessments to peacekeepers in maintaining security.
  • This project aims to demonstrate the impact of modern surveillance technology on the detection of asymmetric threats.
  • India has developed the technology platform in partnership with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Operational Support. India has contributed more than USD 1.5 million for this project.
  • The platform will be deployed initially in four UN Peacekeeping Missions: MINUSMA (Mali), UNMISS (South Sudan), UNFICYP (Cyprus) and AMISOM (Somalia). 

How the UNITE Aware system works?

  • UNITE Aware system will access live video and satellite imagery, and in very volatile circumstances can also deliver early warnings to peacekeepers.
  • It can also record data on critical incidents and events and follow daily operational activities.
  • Using the platform, the entire peacekeeping operation can be visualised, coordinated, and monitored on a real time basis.

NHRC on slow criminal justice reform process


A group of experts under the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) expressed “serious concerns over the slow pace of reforms in the criminal justice system to ensure speedy justice”.


GS-II: Polity and Constitution (Judiciary), GS-II: Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is the Criminal Justice System (CJS)?
  2. Need for reforms in the Criminal Justice System in India
  3. Malimath Committee
  4. About NHRC
  5. Composition of NHRC

What is the Criminal Justice System (CJS)?

  • The Criminal Justice System (CJS) includes the institutions/agencies and processes established by a government to control crime in the country. This includes components like police and courts.
  • The aim of the Criminal Justice System (CJS) is to protect the rights and personal liberty of individuals and the society against its invasion by others.
  • The Criminal law in India is contained in a number of sources – The Indian Penal Code of 1860, the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955, Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
  • CJS can impose penalties on those who violate the established laws.
  • The criminal law and criminal procedure are in the concurrent list of the seventh schedule of the constitution.

Need for reforms in the Criminal Justice System in India

  1. Inefficiency in justice delivery: The system takes years to bring justice and has ceased to deter criminals. There is a lack of synergy among the judiciary, the prosecution and the police. A large number of guilty go unpunished in a large number of cases. On the contrary, many innocent people remain as undertrail prisoners as well.
  2. The system has become ineffective: The state has constituted the CJS to protect the rights of the innocent and punish the guilty but the system, based on century-old outdated laws, has led to harassment of people by the government agencies and also put pressure on the judiciary.
  3. Complex nature of crimes: Crime has increased rapidly and the nature of crimes are becoming more and more complex due to technological innovations.
  4. Inequality in the justice: The rich and the powerful hardly get convicted, even in cases of serious crimes. Also, the growing nexus between crime and politics has added a new dimension to the crime scenario.
  5. Investigation incapability: It led to delay in or haphazard investigation of crimes which greatly contribute to the delay in dispensing prompt justice.

Malimath Committee

Malimath Committee was headed by Justice V.S. Malimath, former Chief Justice of the Karnataka and Kerala High Courts. 

Some of the important recommendations of the committee were:

  1. Courts and Judges: There is a need for more judges in the country.
  2. National Judicial Commission: The Constitution of a National Judicial Commission to deal with the appointment of judges to the higher courts and amending Article 124 to make impeachment of judges less difficult.
  3. Separate criminal division in higher courts: The higher courts should have a separate criminal division consisting of judges who have specialised in criminal law.
  4. The inquisitorial system of investigation: The Inquisitorial system is practised in countries such as Germany and France should be followed.
  5. Power for court to summon any person: Court’s power to summon any person, whether or not listed as a witness if it felt necessary.
  6. Right to silence: A modification to Article 20 (3) of the Constitution that protects the accused from being compelled to be a witness against himself/herself. The court should be given freedom to question the accused to elicit information and draw an adverse inference against the accused in case the latter refuses to answer.
  7. The right of accused: A schedule to the Code be brought out in all regional languages to make accused aware of his/her rights, as well as how to enforce them.
  8. Presumption of Innocence: The courts follow “proof beyond reasonable doubt” as the basis to convict an accused in criminal cases which is an unreasonable burden on the prosecution and hence a fact should be considered as proven “if the court is convinced that it is true” after evaluating the matters before it.
  9. Justice to the victims: The victim should be allowed to participate in cases involving serious crimes and also be given adequate compensation. If the victim is dead, the legal representative shall have the right to implead himself or herself as a party, in case of serious offences. The State should provide an advocate of victim’s choice to plead on his/her behalf and the cost has to be borne by the state if the victim can’t afford it.
  10. Victim Compensation Fund: A Victim Compensation Fund can be created under the victim compensation law and the assets confiscated from organised crimes can be made part of the fund.
  11. Police Investigation: Hiving off the investigation wing of Law and Order
  12. National Security Commission and State Security Commissions: Setting up of a National Security Commission and State Security Commissions.
  13. SP in each district: Appointment of an SP in each district to maintain crime data, an organisation of specialised squads to deal with organised crime.
  14. Director of Prosecution: A new post, Director of Prosecution, should be created in every state to facilitate effective coordination between the investigating and prosecuting officers.
  15. Witness protection: The dying declarations, confessions, and audio/video recorded statements of witnesses should be authorised by law. There should be a strong witness protection mechanism. Witnesses should be treated with dignity.
  16. Arrears Eradication Scheme: To settle those cases which are pending for more than two years through Lok Adalat on a priority basis.
  17. Offences classification: It should be changed to the social welfare code, correctional code, criminal code, and economic and other offences code instead of the current classification of cognisable and non-cognisable.
  18. Substitution of death sentence: Substitute with imprisonment for life without commutation or remission.
  19. Central law for organized crime and terrorism: Though crime is a state subject, a central law must be enacted to deal with organised crime, federal crimes, and terrorism.
  20. Periodic review: A Presidential Commission was recommended for a periodical review of the functioning of the Criminal Justice System.

Issues with the recommendations

  • Malimath Committee report recommends making confessions made to a senior police officer (SP rank or above) admissible as evidence. Confessions to police have repeatedly come under scrutiny because of allegations of custodial torture, instances of custodial deaths, fake encounters and tampering with evidence.
  • The report recommends diluting the standard of proof lower than the current ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ standard. It means that if a proof is enough to convince the court that something is true, then it can be considered as a standard proof. Such a measure would have adverse implications on suspects and requires considerable deliberation.

National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)

  • The National Human Rights Commission is an Independent Statutory Body constituted on 12 October 1993, by the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.
  • The NHRC is responsible for the protection and promotion of human rights.
  • NHRC deals with the rights related to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by Indian Constitution or embodied in the international covenants and enforceable by courts in India.
  • On an international level, the NHRC is established in conformity with the Paris Principles, adopted for the promotion and protection of human rights in Paris (October, 1991). It was also endorsed by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 20 December, 1993.

Powers conferred to the NHRC in inquiries

  • While inquiring into complaints under the Act, the Commission shall have all the powers of a civil court trying a suit under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, and in particular the following, namely:
    1. Summoning and enforcing the attendance of witnesses and examining them on oath;
    2. discovery and production of any document;
    3. receiving evidence on affidavits;
    4. requisitioning any public record or copy thereof from any court or office;
    5. issuing commissions for the examination of witnesses or documents;
    6. any other matter which may be prescribed.

Composition of NHRC

  • A Chairperson, who has been a Chief Justice of India or a Judge of the Supreme Court
  • One member who is, or has been, a Judge of the Supreme Court of India
  • One member who is, or has been, the Chief Justice of a High Court
  • Three Members, out of which at least one shall be a woman to be appointed from amongst persons having knowledge of, or practical experience in, matters relating to human rights
  • In addition, the Chairpersons of National Commissions (Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Women, Minorities, Backward Classes, Protection of Child Rights) and Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities serve as ex officio members.
  • The sitting Judge of the Supreme Court or sitting Chief Justice of any High Court can be appointed only after the consultation with the Chief Justice of Supreme Court.

How are the Chairperson and Members of NHRC appointed?

The Chairperson and members of the NHRC are appointed by the President of India, on the recommendation of a committee consisting of:

  1. The Prime Minister (Chairperson)
  2. The Home Minister
  3. The Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha (Lower House)
  4. The Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha (Upper House)
  5. The Speaker of the Lok Sabha (Lower House)
  6. The Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha (Upper House)

India to host second UNWGIC in 2022


India is going to host the second United Nations World Geospatial Information Congress (UNWGIC) in October 2022, at Hyderabad, and the theme will be, “Towards Geo-enabling the Global Village”.


GS-II: International Relations (Important International Institutions)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What are geospatial technology?
  3. UN-GGIM

What are geospatial technologies?

  • Geospatial is a term widely used to describe the combination of spatial software and analytical methods with terrestrial or geographic datasets. The term is often used in conjunction with geographic information systems and geomatics, never separately.
  • “Geospatial technologies” is a term used to describe the range of modern tools contributing to the geographic mapping and analysis of the Earth and human societies.
  • These technologies have been evolving in some form since the first maps were drawn in prehistoric times.
  • In the 19th century, the long important schools of cartography and mapmaking were joined by aerial photography as early cameras were sent aloft on balloons and pigeons, and then on airplanes during the 20th century.
  • The science and art of photographic interpretation and map making was accelerated during the Second World War and during the Cold War it took on new dimensions with the advent of satellites and computers.
  • Satellites allowed images of the Earth’s surface and human activities therein with certain limitations.
  • Computers allowed storage and transfer of imagery together with the development of associated digital software, maps, and data sets on socioeconomic and environmental phenomena, collectively called geographic information systems (GIS).

United Nations World Geospatial Information Congress (UNWGIC)

  • United Nations World Geospatial Information Congress (UNWGIC) will be organised United Nation Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM). 
  • UNWGIC is meant to enhance international collaboration among the Member States and relevant stakeholders in Geospatial information management and capacities.
  • It is conducted every four years. The first UNWGIC was organized by China in October 2018.
  • The theme of Second UNWGIC is ‘Geo-enabling the Global Village’.

United Nation Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM)

  • The United Nation Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM) aims at playing a leading role in setting the agenda for the development of global geospatial information and to promote its use to address key global challenges.
  • It works towards implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and to keep the promise to leave no one behind.
  • In 2009, the United Nations Statistics Division, convened in New York, an informal consultative meeting with geospatial information experts from different regions of the world.
  • In 2010, the United Nations Secretariat was requested to initiate discussion and prepare a report for the approval of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on global coordination of geospatial information management, including the consideration of the possible creation of a United Nations Forum on GGIM.
  • In 2011, the ECOSOC forum concluded with the acceptance of the Seoul Declaration on Global Geospatial Information Management (GGIM).


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