Cultivating democratic resilience


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The U.S. State Department on Tuesday announced the launch of a new program to capture and analyze evidence of war crimes and other atrocities allegedly perpetrated by Russia in Ukraine, as Washington seeks to ensure Moscow is held accountable for its actions, Reuters reports.

The Conflict Observatory will capture, analyze, and publicize available evidence of Russia-perpetrated war crimes and other atrocities in Ukraine, the State Department adds:

The program is being established with an initial $6 million investment, with future funding to come from the European Democratic Resilience Initiative (EDRI).  In March, the White House announced at least $320 million in funds for EDRI to bolster democratic resilience, advance anti-corruption efforts, and promote respect for human rights in Ukraine and its region.  This new Conflict Observatory program is part of a range of U.S. government efforts at both national and international levels designed to ensure future accountability for Russia’s horrific actions.

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The Conflict Observatory is a collaboration with Esri, a geographic information systems firm, Yale University’s Humanitarian Research Lab – Khoshnood, the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative, and PlanetScape Ai.

In March, Humanitarian OpenStreetMap (HOT), an open source project that works with humanitarian groups around the world using maps to help them deliver aid, stopped all updates to Ukraine on the open source mapping tool OpenStreetMap, WIRED reports. The decision came after the Ukrainian mapping community expressed concern that updates to the maps would only serve to help the invading Russian forces. But that also meant that critical information might no longer be available for outside aid organizations. (HOT has continued adding locations to the map outside Ukraine to help Ukrainian refugees find services in neighboring countries.)

What is the impact of media and technology on democracy? Join Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Rep. John Katko (R-NY), former Rep. Steve Israel, journalists, and prominent thought leaders for a bipartisan, solutions-oriented conversation on democratic resilience.

The State of Democracy” Tuesday, May 24 from 8:30 am–2:00 pm ET. At 1:00 PM, The Century Foundation President Mark Zuckerman and TCF senior fellow Bart Gellman keynote the event with a conversation on “Exposing Threats to Democracy.” This event is sponsored by The Century Foundation in partnership with the Cornell Institute of Politics and Global Affairs. Moderated by Steve Israel, Director of the Institute of Politics and Global Affairs at the Cornell Brooks School of Public Policy. In-person location: The Cornell Club New York at 6 E 44th St, New York, NY 10017. To attend virtually, register with eCornell  or tune in to the live stream.

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