Handbook of Research on Blockchain Technology: Chapter 1 - Ethical Considerations and Issues of Blockchain Technology-Based Systems in War Zones: A Case Study Approach

Elsevier, Handbook of Research on Blockchain Technology, 2020, Pages 1-34
Ramnath Reghunadhan

In the postwar era, the Syrian Civil War has become the bloodiest, prolonged, and protracted conflict in the 21st century. It inherently includes various dimensions, increasing complexity in the pattern, both in the defense sector and in the ensuing displacement-cum-migration crises, on a scale that the world has hitherto witnessed. This has pretty much caused a huge (direct and/or indirect) paradigm shift in the socioeconomic and political patterns and processes around the World. Although the political crisis has induced large-scale migration, including mass exodus, which many have described as the “The Great Humanitarian Crisis,” the defense sector is slowly imbibing various technologies including artificial intelligence and digitalization into it. The Syrian Civil War has resulted in the loss of nearly half a million Syrian lives, injuring over 1 million injured and many millions who are either internally displaced persons (IDPs) or have become refugees, besides degrading societal conditions and instability. An estimated 5.6 million Syrians have been forced to become refugees, around 6.2 million accounts for IDPs. Globally, almost one-sixth of the world population are without provable identity, while 20 trillion USD of unowned capital lay around. A prominent issue in resolving The Great Humanitarian Crisis is to legitimately identify the refugees and IDPs. But a large number of the refugees and IDPs lack evidence or verification documents like identity cards, property deeds, passports; most of which would have been lost while fleeing for their lives, amidst conflicts or bombardments. This creates a number of hindrances for their return, reentry, identity verification, validation, certification and rehabilitation, repatriation, and resettlement as well. This also leads to issues of increasing illegal entry points, lack of property restitution and/or compensation, along with the lack of livelihood opportunities or overdependence on aid. Moreover, issues like trust deficit, leakages in distribution, and accessibility to goods and services exacerbate the situation. A number of actors have taken initiatives to record, authenticate, and verify identities but the documentation processes and mechanisms have often been found practically lacking. This issue could be dealt with by providing verifiable universal identity (a global passport) to the population, particularly the refugees and IDPs. Blockchain Technology-Based System (BTBS) has been increasingly used by various actors to identify, provide support, funding, aid, and food to refugees and IDPs. At the same time, the disruptive nature of BTBS as a foundational technology into the defense sector has also been dealt with. Interestingly, the pros and cons of the system have been one that is debatable. In this context, the chapter seeks to discuss the features, deployment, technical innovations, ethical considerations, and issues related to the global use and implementation of BTBS.