Microsoft commits $5 million to ‘landmark’ United Nations technology partnership

NEW YORK, OCT 16: United Nations sign in the front door in United Nations HQ

Microsoft and the United Nations (UN) have announced a five-year “landmark” partnership to develop technology to “better predict, analyze and respond to critical human rights situations,” according to a statement issued today.

Additionally, Microsoft will support work being carried out by the UN Human Rights Office by contributing $5 million to a grant in what the UN called an “unprecedented level of support” from a private organization.

An example of the kind of technology the duo have been working on is an information dashboard called Rights View that gives UN employees access to real-time aggregated data on rights violations by country. This, it’s hoped, will “facilitate analysis, ensure early warning of emerging critical issues, and provide data to guide responses,” according to Microsoft.

“As a global company that sees the problems of the world, we believe that we have a responsibility to help solve them,” noted Microsoft president Brad Smith, in a press release. “We have an untapped opportunity to use the power of technology to collect data, analyze that data, and equip the United Nations to advance human rights around the world.”

Founded in 1945, the intergovernmental organization is largely funded through voluntary contributions from member states, though particular programs, such as UNICEF, are often co-financed through corporate and individual donations. But the Trump administration’s idea to cut as much as $1 billion in UN funding may lead to a greater reliance on non-governmental contributions.

Speaking of Microsoft’s support, UN high commissioner for human rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said, “This could be a truly groundbreaking agreement. The private sector has an essential role to play in advancing human rights, and this partnership with Microsoft demonstrates how we can join forces in a constructive way.”

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