In Ukraine, Identifying the Dead Comes at Human Rights Cost

February 22, 2023

(Wired) – Accounting for the dead and letting families know the fate of their relatives is a human rights imperative written into international treaties, protocols, and laws like the Geneva Conventions and the International Committee of the Red Cross’ (ICRC) Guiding Principles for Dignified Management of the Dead. It is also tied to much deeper obligations. Caring for the dead is among the most ancient human practices, one that makes us human, as much as language and the capacity for self-reflection. Historian Thomas Laqueur, in his epic meditation, The Work of the Dead, writes that “as far back as people have discussed the subject, care of the dead has been regarded as foundational—of religion, of the polity, of the clan, of the tribe, of the capacity to mourn, of an understanding of the finitude of life, of civilization itself.” But identifying the dead using facial recognition technology uses the moral weight of this type of care to authorize a technology that raises grave human rights concerns. (Read More)