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United Nations Thinking Big About Blockchain




Problems are being solved by a new generation of developers inspired by blockchain tech. While smaller application cases are being considered around the world, the United Nations isn’t waiting for ecosystems to develop. In fact, it is charging hardest at some of the most difficult issues in human history – and their weapon of choice is the blockchain.

The maintenance of international peace and security requires the United Nations (UN) to think big, both in its scope of focus and its breath of action. The original six subdivisions chartered in its founding have expanded to nearly 30 separate affiliated organizations and agencies that each have a specific mission.

These affiliates are organized and supported by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and a growing number of their strategic initiatives have identified blockchain technology as integral to achieving their goals. Distributed ledger technology (DLT) is solving many existing problems for these agencies as well as liberating the traditional methodologies used by the UN to historically perform its mission.

Pioneering DLT implementation into the UN mission is: the UN Development Program (UNDP), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), UN Women, and the UN Development Group (UNDG). According to a UNOPS request for information publication this grouping will study, through theoretical modeling and real world application, “the potential of blockchain technology to dramatically improve the efficiency, transparency and accountability in international humanitarian, development and peacekeeping assistance.” Through this disclosure the UN has also reached out to industry leaders in an effort to align their initiatives with emerging DLT applications. Specifically, the UN is trying to identify:

  • Firms capable of providing block chain based solutions for international assistance.
  • Firms capable of providing a conceptual framework based on blockchain for international assistance.
  • Firms interested in pursuing the potential use of blockchain technology for international assistance with the multi-UN agency group.

Yoshiyuki Yamamoto, the UN special advisor for engagement and blockchain technology told ETHNews “this announcement is a request for information, not a solicitation for offers, and accordingly no contract will be awarded from this announcement.” Further details are likely to follow as this is another major indication signalizing the UN’s commitment to hashing out the potential uses for blockchain technology.

While applications are not being considered at this time, the UN has signaled a vast new frontier for blockchain entrepreneurs with technological aspirations outside of finance. As industrialized actors develop top-down applications for DLT evolutions, the UN’s disclosure indicates a simultaneous bottom-up movement taking shape. The intersection of these two approaches sometime in the future will signal a shift has occurred, cementing blockchain as a corner stone of the fourth Industrial Revolution.    

Clarification was made on May 1, 2017, on UN inter-agency relations, as well as, application deadlines. 

Jordan Daniell

Jordan Daniell is a full-time staff writer for ETHNews with a passionate interest in techno-social developments and cultural evolution. Jordan enjoys the outdoors, especially astronomy, and likes to play the bag pipes and explore southern California on foot in his spare time. Jordan lives in Los Angeles and holds value in Ether.

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