Spying bill, COVID-19 likely to increase insecurity

Spying bill, COVID-19 likely to increase insecurity
Spying bill, COVID-19 likely to increase insecurity

FRANCISTOWN: Fear has gripped the nation following the clearance of the controversial Criminal Procedure and Evidence (Controlled Investigations) Bill (2022) up for debate as a matter of urgency.

After beating a hasty retreat government introduced some checks and balances following a backlash from several quarters that noted varying deficiencies and potential threats that could encroach on the civil liberties of the people while targetting criminals as purported.

Following the passing of the bill for debate in Parliament, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) also joined the chorus when it released a 2022 special report entitled, 'Report on new threats to human security in the Anthropocene: Demanding greater solidarity'.

The report explains this paradox, highlighting the strong association between declining levels of trust and increased feelings of insecurity.

It suggests that during the Anthropocene – a term proposed to describe the era in which humans have become central drivers of planetary change, radically altering the earth’s biosphere – people have also good reason to feel insecure.

Multiple threats from COVID-19, digital technology, climate change, and biodiversity loss, have become more prominent or taken new forms in recent years, as per the report.

It says that in almost every country in the world, six in seven people worldwide feel insecure.

The report says that digital technologies could require safeguards, such as humans in the loop (ensuring adequate human oversight and control in AI applications), and proactively embed privacy by design (to anticipate and prevent privacy breaches rather than adopt a reactive approach).

It advocates for regulatory frameworks that could provide for both technology’s benefits and for users’ privacy rather than forcing a choice between them.

“Even though people are on average living longer, healthier and wealthier lives, these advances have not succeeded in increasing people’s sense of security. This holds true for countries all around the world and was taking hold even before the uncertainty wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has increased this uncertainty. It has imperilled every dimension of our wellbeing and amplified a sense of fear across the globe,” says António Guterres, the Secretary-General (SG) of the United Nations (UN) in the report’s foreword.

Guterres added: “This, in tandem with rising geopolitical tensions, growing inequalities, democratic backsliding and devastating climate change-related weather events, threatens to reverse decades of development gains, throw progress on the Sustainable Development Goals even further off track, and delay the urgent need for a greener, more inclusive and just transition... The report explains this paradox, highlighting the strong association between declining levels of trust and increased feelings of insecurity".

The study says that the enormous shock of the COVID-19 has unmasked the fragility of progress, touching nearly everyone on the planet.

“This should serve as a wake-up call in the face of compounded threats to human security that are superimposed on the unprecedented Anthropocene context. It shows that improving wellbeing achievements is not a sufficient condition for human security. The pandemic could represent a dry run of worse things to come – a series of ever-growing waves crashing into the inability of governments and the international community to empower and protect people around the world, but especially the most vulnerable,” according to the report.

Yet, the pandemic has also given us a glimpse of how bold action could help tackle the challenges of our time and improve lives and well being, says the report.

“We have witnessed the astonishing production of dozens of highly effective vaccines in record time – some of them with breakthrough technologies. The vaccine rollout has been grossly unequal, but less than a year after the vaccination campaign started, half the world has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Moreover, the pandemic has opened the doors to aggressive policy interventions, and many developing countries have implemented some sort of income support programme, which in turn has decelerated COVID-19 cases and deaths,” the report highlights.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals, per the report, provide an ambitious set of multidimensional objectives that inform action at all levels and mobilize the international community.

“But efforts remain largely compartmentalized, dealing separately with climate change, biodiversity loss, conflicts, migration, refugees, pandemics and data protection. Those efforts should be strengthened, but tackling them in silos is insufficient in the Anthropocene context. It is imperative to go beyond fragmented efforts, to reaffirm the principles of the UN founding documents – the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Charter – which are also the central ideas underpinning the concept of human security,” the study emphasizes.

Editor's Comment
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