Blockchain or more widely distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) has been intensively hyped in the international assistance community in the past few years as a disruptive technology to promote a more transparent, accountable, efficient and secure way of providing the humanitarian and development assistance. The potential use cases that have been explored include a wide variety of interventions, from digital financial transactions to land registries, aid disbursement in refugee camps, identity, decentralized management of renewable energy etc. On the other hand, there are little to none evidence to show to what extent the proclaimed effect of the use of blockchain or DLT has been proven. Here is a disconnect between hype and reality. And yet the journey for the exploration has just started. It may be time that we consolidate our position before we further move into the future.
Yoshiyuki Yamamoto is the Special Advisor for UN Engagement and Blockchain Technology at United Nations Office for Project Services since 2016. He has been exploring the possibilities of blockchain technology for the United Nations and international aid work as expressed in his article, Could bitcoin technology revolutionize aid distribution? (LinkedIn, Nov 30, 2017). He is a co-editor of the book “Legal Aspects of Blockchain” published by UNOPS and Dutch Blockchain Pilot Project sponsored by Netherlands Government. Within UN Innovation Network.
He has more than 25 years of experience in the UN system, having spent his first 15 years working for UNHCR, IOM, UN RC/HC Office, PKO in the post conflict areas such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Jordan and Iraq with a year break as an Associate Professor for a graduate school of law in Japan for 2003-04. In 2007 he joined UNOPS HQ in Copenhagen, and then UNOPS NY in 2009 where he adopted various digital solutions as the Director for UNOPS Peace and Security Centre managing PKO and humanitarian projects in 23 countries.
He attended Osaka University, University of Southern California and Oxford University and holds B.A., LL. B and LL.M. His major is quantitative analysis of law. He published a book titled “Kabul Note” in 2001, which was ranked in top 10 for seven weeks at Amazon.co.jp.