It’s the stuff of science fiction: machines that make decisions about who and when to kill. Referred to as “autonomous weapons”, they’re already in use to some degree. But as more sophisticated systems are being developed we wanted to an expert in the field about whether such systems comply with international humanitarian law and what it means for humanity to give machines the power over human life and death.
One of RCRC magazine’s key mandates was to raise critical questions so our readers and viewers – mainly members of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement — could better understand the nuances of critical humanitarian issues. The magazine also had a mission of highlighting inspiring stories about the amazing humans that take on those challenges as Red Cross and Red Crescent workers around the world.
The interviews in this episode tick both those boxes.
First, we catch up with someone we first interviewed in 2020 during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Dalal al Taji has had a long-time affiliation with the Palestinian Red Crescent and she has been visually impaired her entire life. Today, she is a globally recognized advocate for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in emergency response.
With the help of her mother, Dalal helped us produce this video using her computer and cell phone camera at a time when she and everyone in her Gaza neighborhood were in Covid-19 lockdown. Because nearly all international travel was put on hold, the magazine had to come up with creative ways to help people get their stories out.
In this case, we wanted to know how Covid-19 was impacting people with disabilities in places also affected by other crises such as armed conflict, water shortages and power outages. Now, three years later, we wanted to get back in touch with Dalal to see if she felt the situation generally for people with disabilities in emergency settings has improved or not.
“I think it’s improved and not improved,” she says. “It’s improved in that people are more aware of the need to have a particular plan for including persons with disability in disaster, or in any pandemic or disaster management. But there is still there is no really clear outline or a clear plan or guidelines for persons with disabilities in terms of what they should do and how they could be included in disaster response.”
(To learn more about IFRC guidance on inclusion of people with disabilities and emergencies, see links at the bottom of this article).