Human & Machine• GOVERNMENT

A Petition Signed with a 3D Selfie

Creating "Living Petitions" with selfies.
Maria V. Rodriguez

As part of its #notatarget campaign, the United Nations released its first-ever “Living Petition” to commemorate 2018’s World Humanitarian Day. The campaign, developed by technology agencies VML, missing pieces, and Standard Transmission, aims to raise awareness of the suffering of civilians caught in conflicts around the world by displaying 3D images of petitioners’ portraits. 

To sign and support the petition, participants upload selfies on the World Humanitarian Day website. These pictures are turned into 3D images that then become part of an installation at U.N. headquarters in New York City. 

According to the 2017 Protection of Civilians report from the U.N. secretary-general, three out of four victims in conflict zones were civilians, amounting to tens of thousands of deaths per year. In addition, the independent research group Humanitarian Outcomes stated in its annual Aid Worker Security Report that last year 139 aid workers were killed, 100 more were wounded, and 76 were kidnapped while working in conflict zones. 

Mark Lowcock, head of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told Reuters that the #notatarget installation aims to “remind world leaders of their legal obligation to protect civilians in conflict.” He highlighted the need to “hold men with guns and power accountable.” The installation was inaugurated in August and displayed during the U.N. General Assembly through early September.