ICT4Peace Panel on International Norms for Peace and Security at the Global Conference on Cyberspace, The Hague, Netherlands

Discussions on the applicability of existing international norms of responsible state behaviour to cyberspace are on-going within the UN Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security (UN GGE) and several regional organisations. The need for trust and responsible state behaviour in cyberspace is acute and real as malicious uses of ICTs affect the prospect of economic and social benefits brought by an advanced information society and run the risk of escalating tensions between states.

On 17 April 2015, the ICT4Peace Foundation, with the generous support of the Dutch Government, will organize a panel discussion at the Global Conference on Cyberspace, The Hague, Netherlands on the topic of norms. Moderated by Dr. Eneken Tikk, Senior Advisor, ICT4Peace Foundation, the session will take a comprehensive and inclusive approach to norms emergence in cyberspace. It aims to complement the on-going dialogue within the GGE and other fora – primarily focused on the interpretation of international treaties – with views on additional sources of norms and normative instruments.

The interpretation of international treaties, which, as one of the instruments of international law, will inevitably never be precise and dynamic enough to offer practicable solutions to the acute and emerging threats, that countries are facing in the cyberspace. While some commentators have voiced the expectation of international custom to result from the general and consistent practice of states, formation of customary law is difficult, given the still developing understanding of operations in and through cyberspace.

There is, however, an additional source of international law to be employed in such vague circumstances, namely that provided for in Article 38(1) of the Statute of the International Court of Justice on the general principles of law recognised by civilised nations as primarily reflected in the judicial opinions of domestic courts. The general principles of law are intended to serve as gap fillers in a fragmented field of international law. The treaty-based approach inevitably results in gaps in the regulation as not all relevant issues can or should be solved by a treaty and treaty law: Some issues do not require international responses but rather require coordinated national level action; some may be resolved by politically binding and voluntary instruments. The general principles of law may serve the purposes of norms economy but could also correspond better to the realities of the emerging understanding of feasible and functional remedies.

Examining the use of the general principles of international law, as the shared understanding between civilised nations, directs us to practical solutions adopted at the national level and allows us to assess better the emerging areas of consensus likely to affect and define the development of hard law in the future. It will also indicate useful borderlines between international and national responses to issues of international cyber security. Therefore, it offers guidance to international resolution, as opposed to national, and notably allows us to determine priorities as well as subsequent future directions of international engagement. The panel will highlight the general principles of international law as an existing and mandatory avenue for finding and determining binding guidance for responsible state behaviour.

When studying the general principles of international law we need to remain open-minded in order to find some of these principles reflecting political consensus and agreement. Failure to approach the issue of norms in a comprehensive and inclusive manner leaves us partially unaware of possibly emerging consensus on responsible state behaviour. Hence the need to expand the exploration of responsible state behaviour to the realm of soft law as well as politically binding and voluntary normative instruments.

Building on on-going research and interviews, the ICT4Peace panel will discuss what states and non-state actors prioritise as (international) cyber security issues, what remedies have been developed to respond to these issues and whether such approaches amount to norms of responsible state behaviour.

The Agenda and Speakers of the Panel can be found here include:

ICT4Peace has launched it’s project on norms for peace and security in the cyberspace under the leadership of Dr. Eneken Tikk in 2012. The above mentioned panel as well as the preparatory research in 2015 has been made possible with the generous support by the Dutch Government.

At the Hague Conference, ICT4Peace, in cooperation with Clingendael, is also conducting an International Cybersecurity Diplomacy Course on 15 April 2015, prepared and moderated for ICT4Peace by Ms. Camino Kavanagh, Senior Advisor, ICT4Peace Foundation. Information can be found here.

Recent publications and events by ICT4Peace on international cyber security affairs can be found here.

First ICT4Peace publication in Spanish: A Role for Civil Society in Cybersecurity Affairs

Also on the occasion of the Global Conference on Cyberspace April 2015 in the Hague Netherlands, ICT4Peace is pleased to announce that it’s publication on the Role of Civil Society in Cybersecurity Affairs in September is now also available in Spanish Language: ¿UN PAPEL PARA LA SOCIEDAD CIVIL? – TIC, NORMAS Y MEDIDAS DE CONSTRUCCIÓN DE CONFIANZA EN EL CONTEXTO DE LA SEGURIDAD INTERNACIONAL.

Role of Civil Society in español final

We would like to thank the Organisation of American States (OAS) and in particular Mr. Belisario Contreras for their kind support to this effort.

In 2013, representing a major breakthrough in what had heretofore been difficult negotiations, a UN Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) reached initial agreement on the nature of some of these norms, confidence and capacity building measures. Substantive discussions on how these should be applied and implemented remain, however, at an early stage. Moreover, many of the on-going efforts to reach consensus have run into difficulty not least because it is hard (yet not entirely impossible) to fit ICTs into traditional security paradigms. Yet, most governments acknowledge the role norms and CBMs can play in strengthening trust between states and within states. In addition, core governance principles such as participation, transparency, and accountability can help build and deepen trust between states, and between states and citizens. To this end, governments have acknowledged the need to build trust and deepen their engagement with other groups – including civil society organisations – as they move to further shape and implement new norms and rules in this area. Yet, to date, such engagement has been minimal.

Civil society engagement on international governance and security matters is not new and there are scores of examples of areas in which states have accomodated such engagement. Cyber security should not be an exception. Moreover, it is an area that by its very nature and the broad range of normative concerns involved, calls for much deeper civil society engagement than experienced in other areas. If approached effectively and coherently, such engagement, the authors argue, can afford greater legitimacy and sustainability to on-going multi-lateral norms and CBM processes concerning international security and state uses of ICTs. It can also help ensure that broader normative concerns are attended to, and that the right technical expertise is leveraged when solutions are being sought. Combined, the latter can help build trust between states, and between states and society.

The paper is organised under three sections: the first provides a short overview of the current context; the second discusses why civil society is important to furthering norms and confidence building measures regarding the use of ICTs in the context of international and regional security; and the third tables some suggestions for civil society engagement under three headings: i) engaging effectively; ii) fostering transparency and accountability; and iii) deepening knowledge.

ICT4Peace conducts International Cybersecurity Diplomacy Course at the Global Conference on Cyberspace 2015, The Hague Netherlands

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Upon invitation and with the support by the Government of the Netherlands, the ICT4Peace Foundation is honoured to organise a half day training Course on International Cybersecurity Diplomacy on 15 April 2015 in The Hague. The course is co-organized with the Clingendael Netherlands Institute for International Relations. For more information and registration details, visit www.clingendael.nl/cyberdiplomacy.

The aim of this short course is to provide an introduction to the subject of international cyber security diplomacy and current eorts to develop norms of responsible state behaviour and confidence building measures (CBMs)regarding cyberspace and ICTs. The course is aimed at government ocials involved in foreign policy development and/or cyber security diplomacy as  well as private sector and civil society representatives who have a stake in shaping normative regimes for cyberspace.
The course is designed to meet the following specific  objectives:

  1. To familiarise participants with the political-diplomatic context in which cyber security is currently being addressed in global and regional fora.
  2. To expose participants to primary documents sourced from real world multilateral forums.
  3. To stimulate reflection on and discussion of the key issues that have emerged to date in cyber security debates.
  4. To discuss future developments in the on-going multilateral deliberations on cyber security and to consider the prospects for arriving at agreed conclusions.
  5. To encourage an exchange of experiences, opinions and perspectives amongst the participants that can help to inform future capacity-building activities.
  6. To prepare participants for their own participation in the Hague Conference on Cyberspace.


The course will be conducted in a seminar-type format and will be structured in a manner that  promotes as much interaction with participants as follows:

Preparatory reading material

  1. Report of the UN Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International SecurityJune 2013
  2. OSCE Presidential Council Decision No. 1106 Initial Set of OSCE Confidence Building Measures to Reduce the Risk ofConflict Stemming From the Use of Information and Communications Technologies
  3. Baseline Review of ICT-Related Processes and Events. Implications for International and Regional Security (2011-2013)
  4. Confidence Building Measures for Cyberspace
  5. A Role for Civil Society? ICTs, Norms and Confidence Building Measures in the Context of International Security
  6. Getting Down to Business: Realistic Goals for the Promotion of Peace in Cyber-Space. A Code of Conduct for Cyber-Conflicts

Speaker Bios 
Amb. (ret.d) Paul Meyer is a Fellow in International Security at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver and a SeniorAdvisor of ICT4Peace. A former career diplomat with Canada’s Foreign Service, Meyer served as Ambassador andPermanent Representative to the UN and the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva (2003-2007). His HQassignments have also included heading the Bureaux of International Security and Security & Intelligence. He has been engaged in international cyber security policy development and has written extensively on issues related to the diplomacy of cyberspace.
Professor Paul Cornish is Research Group Director for Defence, Security and Infrastructure at RAND Europe inCambridge. His appointments have included Professor of Strategic Studies at the University of Exeter, Professor ofInternational Security at the University of Bath and (inaugural) Carrington Professor of International Security at ChathamHouse. He was educated at the University of St Andrews and the London School of Economics. He then served in the British Army and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office before completing his PhD at the University of Cambridge. He directed the Centre for Defence Studies at King’s College London and taught at the UK Defence Academy and the universities of Cambridge, Bath and Exeter. His work covers national strategy, cyber security, the ethics of armedconflict, civil-military relations and other aspects of contemporary international security. He is a member of the UK Chief of the Defence Staff’s Strategic Advisory Panel, a Fellow of Oxford University’s Global Cyber Security Capacity-Building Centre and a Senior Associate Fellow of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).
Dr. Duncan B. Hollis is the James E. Beasley Professor of Law and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the Temple University School of Law in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Professor Hollis’s scholarship focuses on treaties andinternational regulation of cyber threats. He is the editor of the award-winning Oxford Guide to Treaties (OUP, 2012)and National Treaty Law and Practice (Martinus Nijhoff, 2005) as well as a series of articles on the extent to whichinternational law does (and does not) regulate governance and behaviour in cyberspace. He is a senior team member of METANORM: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Analysis and Evaluation of Norms and Models of Governance forCyberspace, an MIT-led project that is funded by the Minerva Research Initiative. A former legal adviser for treaty affairsin the U.S. Department of State’s Office of the Legal Adviser, Professor Hollis serves on the Executive Council of the American Society of International Law, as an elected member of the American Law Institute, and as a regularcontributor to Opinio Juris, a leading blog on international law and international relations.
Laurent Giselle currently holds the position of Legal Advisor at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).He has been working for the International ICRC since 1999. From 1999 to 2005, he carried out assignments inIsrael and the Occupied Territories, Eritrea, Afghanistan and Nepal. From 2005 to 2008, he served as DiplomaticAdviser to the ICRC Presidency. Since 2008, Laurent Gisel works in the ICRC Legal Division. As Legal Adviser to theOperations from 2008 to 2012, he covered notably the Western countries, Iraq and Afghanistan. He is currently working inthe Thematic Legal Advisers’ Unit. Prior to joining the ICRC, Laurent Gisel became attorney-at-law in Geneva and workedat the Public and Administrative Law Court of the Canton de Vaud. He holds a degree in law from the University ofGeneva and a Master in international law from the Graduate Institute of International Studies (Geneva, Switzerland).
Sico van der Meer is a Research Fellow at the Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’. His researchfocuses on non-conventional weapons such as Weapons of Mass Destruction and cyber weapons. He graduated from theRadboud University Nijmegen in 1999 with a Master’s in History. Before joining the Clingendael Institute, heworked as a journalist and as a Fellow at a think tank that focuses on civil-military relations. Currently he is alsoeditor of the Dutch monthly magazine ‘Internationale Spectator’ as well as a member of the Editorial Board of theacademic journal ‘Security and Human Rights’.

Reinventing How We Live Together


(Photo Credit: “Grime and Communication” by thaths Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC-BY 2.0). Accessed 03/18/2015.)

From Occupy to Podemos to #IllRideWithYou, initiatives for change and civic engagement are increasingly happening outside of established institutions. By leveraging technologies that amplify people’s voices, these new initiatives are more inclusive, more dynamic, and more meaningful on the ground. We see the links between civic engagement and peacebuilding, including the positive function technology can play by broadening avenues for discourse. It is our view that this new paradigm for peacebuilding is parallel to this new paradigm for civic engagement. While many challenges remain, technology enables this paradigm shift, even if it does not necessarily cause it.

Read the full article Reinventing How We Live Together on Building Peace.

Helena Puig Larrauri is a peacebuilding practitioner focusing on the use of technology to promote peace and prevent conflict. She is a co-organizer of Build Peace and co-founder of Build Up , and she is on the Board of Advisers of the Standby Task Force, which she co-founded in 2010.

Sanjana Hattotuwa is the Founding Editor of Groundviews, an award-winning citizen journalism initiative based in Sri Lanka and a Special Advisor at the ICT4Peace Foundation since 2006.

The Government of Kenya and ICT4Peace Foundation co-organize the first Regional Training Workshop in Africa on International Security and Diplomacy in Cyberspace


The ICT4Peace Foundation is honored to have been invited by the Government of Kenya to co-host the first regional training workshop in Africa (2 to 3 March 2015) on International Security and Diplomacy in Cyberspace with over 30 participants (Diplomats, Legal, Security and Technical Staff) from 12 African Countries, the African Union, and Civil Society Representatives. The workshop was co-chaired with Dr. Katherine Getao, Secretary, ICT Authority of Kenya. The Governments of Kenya, the UK, Germany and Switzerland supported the workshop course financially and with lecturers.

This new cyber security capacity building program was developed by the ICT4Peace Foundation as a direct follow-up to some of the recommendations tabled in the 2013 Report of the “UN Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security (UN GGE)” and the Seoul Conference on Cyberspace of the London Process, held in October 2013.

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The first training workshop of this kind was organized by ICT4Peace and the Organisation of American States (OAS) in Bogota for 24 Latin American Countries on 18 to 20 November 2014.

The Long Term Objectives of the Workshop Course are:

  • Mitigating risks to both rights and security in the cyber-sphere through the promotion of international norms of responsible state behavior, confidence-building measures (CBMs), and international cooperation. The expected long-term impact will be: More inclusive and knowledge-based debates, consultations or negotiations with and by all regions on norms and CBMs, with all stake-holders: governments, industry, civil society, and academia; More agreements at bilateral, regional at global level on norms, CBMs and international cooperation; Progress towards a sustained open, prosperous, trustworthy, safe and secure cyberspace;

The Short Term Objectives are:

  • A better and more detailed understanding by public officials, diplomats, industry, civil society representatives from all regions of the world of international norms of responsible State behavior, CBMs and international cooperation in cyberspace, to broaden the participation in the international debates and regional and global negotiations in fora such as the London Process, UN GGE, OSCE, ASEAN, OAS, in the EU, the AU and AfricaCert;
  • A better understanding of the concerns, best practices, policies and institutional arrangements in the field of cyber security at the regional level;

The Course Content:

  • The course provided an introduction to the subject of international cyber security negotiation efforts at the global and regional level. Participants were exposed to the context in which cyber security is being addressed in global fora, such as the UN GGE, OSCE, ARF. The specific topics of International Law and Norms of Responsible State Behaviour as well as Confidence Building Measures (CBMs). An exercise provided an active learning opportunity. The course provided an opportunity for participants and lecturers to discuss and learn of African cyber security-related concerns, best practices and policies.

Photos from the workshop can be viewed here.

The UN’s Human Rights Up Front initiative: Embracing ICTs

Sanjana Hattotuwa, Special Advisor, ICT4Peace Foundation, was invited by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to a strategic workshop on the Human Rights Up Front (HRUF) review of current UN monitoring and reporting on violations and the establishment of a Common UN Information Management System.

The workshop was held on 26-27 Febuary 2015 in Geneva. Representatives from many leading UN departments and agencies were present.

Sanjana was asked to lead a session on the second day of the workshop on how Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) could assist and strengthen a common operational framework, situational awareness and information exchange around human rights within the UN family, as well as bringing into the UN architectures information from the public domain – in line with the thrust of the UN HRUF initiative.

Sanjana presented an overview of some of the ways through which ICTs, in the broadest sense, had already impacted the domain of human rights protection and monitoring. After the presentation, there was discussion around the very aspects and issues the ICT4Peace Foundation has been engaged with as part of the UN’s Crisis Information Management strategy, since 2008. Questions around verification (generating actionable intelligence from the tsunami of unverified information in the public domain), the challenges around managing big data, how to overcome institutional mandates through the use of technology, forward thinking governance mechanisms as well as more technical and technological queries came up. One participant said that in response to a question raised on the first day (what do communities do when the UN isn’t around to strengthen civilian protection and human rights) the ICT4Peace Foundation’s presentation provided the answers, in terms of the ICTs already used by varied stakeholders engaged in work allied with OHCHR.

The ICT4Peace Foundation has since 2014 actively engaged with key members of the UN HRUF’s team around the design and implementation of a framework, supported by ICTs, to highlight key human rights concerns in the UN’s decision and policy making. The Foundation’s relationship with OHCHR extends over several years, and have focused on two key aspects: The need to critically observe and engage with developments in social and new media and secondly – given the increasing surveillance of human rights defenders and the myriad of ways through which ICTs can be used to spread hate, hurt and harm – how new tools can aid vital communications in fragile and violent contexts.

Sanjana’s presentation at the the HRUF workshop in Geneva is embedded below, and can also be accessed here.

Welcoming the timely release of UN’s Performance Peacekeeping Report

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The ICT4Peace Foundation welcomes the release of the UN’s ‘Performance Peacekeeping’ Report, looking at the how technology in general and ICTs in particular can strengthen the mandate of the UN’s peacekeeping efforts and missions. The Expert Panel on Technology and Innovation in UN Peacekeeping was launched by Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Ameerah Haq Under-Secretary-General, Department of Field Support, and chaired by Jane Holl Lute. The ICT4Peace Foundation was closely consulted in the creation of this report, which we feel reflects the ideas and recommendations the Foundation has, over many years, urged the UN to embrace as part of its Crisis Information Management (CiM) portfolio.

From the Foundation’s perspective, this report by the Expert Panel on Technology and Innovation in UN Peacekeeping, complements the UN Secretary General’s report of 10 October 2014 on Information and Communication Technology in the United Nations (A/69/517), to better exploit the enormous potential of ICTs for decision-making and delivery capacity of the United Nations in the areas of peace and security, humanitarian operations and development, human rights and international law.

‘Performance Peacekeeping’ reflects many months of hard work and intensive consultations. The Foundation has met with members of the Panel and its Secretary repeatedly in New York and Berlin, providing input based on years of working with UN peacekeeping missions around info-sec, and the use of ICTs for situational awareness, crisis management and strategic communications. Just a few weeks before the devastating earthquake in Haiti, the Foundation undertook a mission to work with MINUSTAH with the UN’s Chief Information Technology Officer. This mission led to, unexpectedly, the exploration of new ways around how information from within the UN and importantly, from outside it, could help disaster resilience, response and recovery – ideation at the time that was path-breaking. It also lead to the development of the UN SG’s Crisis Information Management Stratgy (CiMS) in 2010. In 2014, at the invitation of the UN’s DFS, the Foundation undertook a week’s mission to MONUSCO  which also involved training around CiM and the facilitation of conversations around the very tools, principles and recommendations presented in ‘Performance Peacekeeping’.

In June 2014, Daniel Stauffacher was invited to meet with the Expert Panel at the Centre of International Peace Operations, ZIF in Berlin, around the following questions,

  • What available  technologies  have  the  potential  for  improving  the  conduct of peace operations?
  • (How) are they employed by the United Nations and other organizations? What lessons have been learned?
  • What are the challenges evolving around the use of these technologies? How can they be addressed properly?

As we noted at the time,

Decision makers increasingly rely on high quality, near real-time data to inform operational and administrative decision-making. The data that is fed into information management tools can come from various sources. At the operational level, this data might be captured by reports from peacekeepers in the field, GPS tracks or satellite data. In addition, “crowdsourcing” can play an important role. Cell phones and smart phones, now cheaper and more available to the average citizen, can produce and transmit decentralized/public data, to produce reports on violence or damaged infrastructure.

These points are echoed in the Expert Panel’s final report.

The report’s emphasis on interoperability is a key determinant in the Foundation’s own substantive input to the UN’s peacekeeping divisions in particular, and the UN system writ large, based on the belief that in order for the institution’s many faces to work as a single responsive, agile, effective and efficient entity, the sharing of information in a timely manner is deeply entwined with its mission. We have trained UN staff around ISR technologies, including open source information verification, data visualisation and mapping. ‘Performance Peacekeeping’ flags the need for standardised mobile telephony and Internet access to augment, especially during crises, proprietary communications infrastructures and platforms by various peacekeeping actors. Combined with surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) tools, working with, inter alia, open source information sources, the Foundation is pleased that the authors of the report acknowledge how much can be done using tools that are today either open source, freely available online or can be, with little to no cost in most instances, adapted and adopted for peacekeeping purposes – along with obviously larger and deeper investments around information management at the enterprise level.

The Foundation is particularly pleased to note the emphasis on innovation, and in particular a culture of innovation within the UN’s peacekeeping sector. The UN Crisis Information Management Advisory Group (CiMAG) – (see UN Secretary General’s Report to the General Assembly of 10 October 2014 on Information and Communication Technology in the United Nations (A/69/517), led by the Chief of the UN’s Office of Information and Communications Technology (OICT) Ms. Atefeg Riazi, and since 2008, actively facilitated by the Foundation – has for years explored and highlighted innovations from the crisis mapping community as well as private sector that can help strengthen the UN’s mandate. DFS and DPKO are lively participants in these dialogues at CiMAG.

The Foundation supports many of the key recommendations in the ‘Performance Peacekeeping’ report, some of which are highlighted here:

  • DPKO and DFS should work with UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes and other humanitarian actors in the field to establish a common information exchange policy and protocols sensitive to humanitarian principles, to enhance common situational awareness and understanding,and explore the use of available inter-agency data-sharing tools.
  • Every mission should undertake a comprehensive review (at least) annually of its information priorities, as well as its information gathering, management, analysis and dissemination practices as measured against those priorities.
  • To enable missions to make better immediate use of open source information, the UN should reiterate the policy that lifts Internet restrictions for those engaged in open source information collection, and provide training on basic cyber security and ethics protocols. It should also ensure that open source analytic tools are immediately available and accessible to those whose core business requires them.
  • Peacekeeping missions should seek to incorporate technology in the design and implementation of protection of civilians strategies, in particular their early warning and early response mechanisms.
  • Missions must take care to protect sensitive information as well as the privacy of particularly vulnerable individuals in protection scenarios.
  • DPKO and DFS should partner with—and learn from—others innovating within the UN system and with external leaders in technology and innovation.
  • DPKO and DFS should establish a dedicated office for technology and innovation, supported by a small advisory group and field-based innovation incubators, together with a small cadre of “technology scouts”, designated centres of excellence within the UN and an “idea factory”.
  • DPKO and DFS should commit to a broad programme of continuous learning and training, and the establishment of forums where new technologies or innovations could be presented and discussed.

The Foundation looks forward to working with our partners in the UN to substantively implement these recommendations, and others around ICTs, in the peacekeeping domain.

UN General Assembly and UN Secretary General take important steps to improve Crisis Information Management


The UN General Assembly in December 2014 approved the UN Secretary-General’s Strategy, to better exploit the enormous potential of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) for decision-making and delivery capacity of the United Nations in the areas of peace and security, humanitarian operations and development, human rights and international law. The strategy is contained in the SG’s report of 10 October 2014 on Information and Communication Technology in the United Nations (A/69/517), that can be found here.

The ASG UN Chief Information and Communication Technology Officer (UN CITO) Ms. Atefeh Riazi and her Office are responsible for the implementation of the Secretary General’s strategy.

The ICT4Peace Foundation, with the financial support of the Governments of Switzerland, Sweden and private Foundations is honoured to have been supporting since 2008 the UN CITO and UN Organisations such as OCHA, DPKO/DFS, UNHCR, OHCHR, WFP, UNICEF, UNDP etc. to improve the UN Crisis Information Management System (CiMS). See the activities of ICT4Peace here.

The Report notes:

“The Secretary-General recognizes the enormous potential of information and communications technology to strengthen the decision-making and delivery capacity of the Secretariat. It is of paramount importance to the Secretary-General to ensure that the technology environment, for which the Chief Information Technology Officer is responsible, fully supports the work of the United Nations in the areas of peace and security, development, human rights and international law, among other mandates. That requires continued focus on successfully delivering existing priority initiatives (such as the enterprise resource planning project, Umoja), as well as a fundamental shift in the approach to, and structure of, information and communications technology systems throughout the Organization. In the past, technology has been regarded as a utility which is separate from substantive business. However, technology and business are not mutually exclusive, they are inextricably linked.”


“The purpose of the strategy is to strengthen, and provide a common vision for, the delivery of information and communications technology in the United Nations through modernization, transformation and innovation and by providing a framework for improved governance, strong leadership and optimal use of information and communications technology resources”


“The (UN) Office of Information and Communications Technology will explore opportunities to develop capacity in analytics and potential means of collaboration with other United Nations entities throughout the global ICT community on the development of analytics solutions to allow for operational flexibility in support of the delivery of their mandates. Analytics could assist in crisis management efforts and the Office would seek to work with the Crisis Information Management Advisory Group (CiMAG) to seek to explore this further.”

The UN CiMAG has been co-organized by the UN OICT and the ICT4Peace Foundation since 2008.

Subsequently, the General Assembly in its resolution dated 26 December (A/C.5/69/L.26*) welcomed the new Information and Communications Technology Strategy in the United Nations, as contained in the report of the Secretary-General, and requested him to provide, in 2015, detailed information on the implementation of all the elements of the proposed new strategy, including an implementation plan, with clear timeline, a list of strategic information and communications technology goals linked to the overall goals of the Organization, a list of ongoing and future strategic information and communications technology initiatives supporting those goals and their costs, benchmarks and deliverables to measure their performance, expected benefits and risks as well as an indicative five-year overall information and communications technology budget projection for the Secretariat.

The General Assembly called on the Secretary-General to continue his efforts to reduce the level of fragmentation of the current information and communications technology environment across the Secretariat and at all duty stations and field missions.

The text of Resolution of the General Assembly can be found here (A/C.5/69/L.26*).



ICT4Peace Annual Cybersecurity “State of Play” Review

On 20-21 January 2015, the ICT4Peace Foundation organised a workshop hosted by ETH on ‘Cybersecurity Processes and Events.’ The objective of the workshop was to set the parameters for its Annual Cybersecurity ‘State of Play’ Review.

The Annual Review – which will build on the Baseline Review ICT4Peace released in April 2014 – will provide an update of the current state of play regarding ICT-related threats and risks and how these are informing or influencing different governmental and non-governmental processes and initiatives aimed at reducing risk and fostering stability at the international and regional levels. It will be launched in July 2015.

The workshop – made possible with the generous support of Zurich Insurance Group – was attended by academic, policy, tech, business and government experts from a number of countries including Brazil, Canada, China, Estonia, Germany, Kenya, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Institutions and organizations represented included ETH, Cambridge University, MIT-CSAIL, King’s College London, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Temple University, University College London, China’s Institute for International Relations, IISS, publicknolwedge.org, the George C. Marshall Institute, Microsoft, Zurich Insurance Group, the Organisation of American States (OAS), OSCE, UN, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland and the Netherlands and Switzerland’s Ministry of Defence.

Some photos from the event are embedded below.















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Annual consultations in Geneva around CiM, innovation and human rights


Sanjana Hattotuwa, Special Advisor at the ICT4Peace Foundation, met with Chad Hendrix, Patrick Gordon, members of the UN Information Management Working Group (IMWG), the ICRC’s Tarun Sarwal and Gulheim Ravier and finally with key staff from the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) on issues anchored to crisis information management (CiM), human rights, innovation, governance and technology development in support of, inter alia, humanitarian aid, civilian protection and peacekeeping.

With Chad Hendrix, Sanjana talked about the progress of UN OCHA’s Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX) project writ large and the further development of the Humanitarian Exchange Language (HXL) in particular. The Foundation has championed the use of HXL and supported its development and adoption for a number of years, including by introducing it to the wider UN at consecutive annual retreats of the UN’s Crisis Information Management Advisory Group (CiMAG) – see here and here. The Foundation is particular pleased to note the advances in the adoption of HXL during and as part of the UNMEER response to combat Ebola. For 2015’s CiMAG retreat, the Foundation hopes to showcase this use case of HXL in UNMEER as an example of how the CiM framework’s data architecture can aid efficient and effective systemic response from the UN family, and beyond.

With Patrick Gordon, Sanjana broached issues related to the up-coming Conference on Humanitarian Data, and in particular, issues related to information security (info-sec) from a field perspective as well as from the Foundation’s global expertise in cyber-security. Sanjana also flagged the Foundation’s involvement in the UAViator’s network, and its keen interest in the development of rights-based frameworks around humanitarian data and the use of public domain information in general in order to strengthen privacy and protect individuals from hate, harm and hurt.

With the UN’s Inter-Agency Information Management Working Group (IMWG) Data Sub-Group members, Sanjana discussed the Foundation’s support towards a humanitarian caseload data initiative that aimed at providing a more effective means of estimating, inter alia, the affected population in order to channel aid and relief in a timely manner. The Foundation will support a renowned consultant to work with OCHA to develop frameworks and guiding principles to more concretely determine numbers of those affected, using knowledge from a range of disciplines and across relevant actors in the UN system.

At the ICRC, Sanjana met with Tarun Sarwal and Gulheim Ravier, who are both part of the institution’s Global Partnership for Humanitarian Impact and Innovation (GPHI2). The conversations ranged from how innovation could be harnessed by the protection and other units within the ICRC to strengthen the institution’s mandate as well as issues like information security, the verification of social media and the use of social media to more effectively communicate the ICRC’s enduring relevance and work to a demographic that isn’t consuming news and information from traditional media sources. Sanjana also discussed how the Foundation could support the development of new IT systems to strengthen data analytics, deep machine learning and data driven visualisations, which could aid the protection unit as well as other arms of the ICRC.

The Foundation’s interactions with the OHCHR go back a number of years. Sanjana met with key staff from the OHCHR’s Peace Mission Support and Rapid Response Section. Several discussions with the PMSRRS have occurred since 2012 on ways to support OHCHR’s mandate with the use of ICTs. Over a two and a half hour meeting, Sanjana discussed on-going work around the UN Secretary General’s Rights Up Front initiative, and how from a ICT systems perspective, the OHCHR could support the SG in developing timely, effective frameworks to embrace more fully the importance of human rights in the UN’s response to crises. The Foundation was also invited to attend a workshop in this regard, planned to be held in late February, around how the OHCHR can develop comprehensive frameworks, leveraging existing investments in ICTs by other arms of the UN family, to more fully mainstream human rights at the country level, and in New York.

In all the discussions, the UN CITO’s report to the 5th Committee and the UN General Assembly (Information and communications technology in the United Nations) was flagged. The CITO’s report, which was approved by the General Assembly, underscores the importance of analytics in support of strengthening the UN’s mandates and flags, in paragraph 37, the work of the UN’s Crisis Information Management Advisory Group (CiMAG).

Analytics could assist in crisis management efforts and the Office would seek to work with the Crisis Information Management Advisory Group to seek to explore this further. Analytics have already made a positive impact on the ability of the Organization to predict or forecast events better.

In the consultations in Geneva, this report was flagged as one that validated the work of the Foundation with the UN system, since 2008, around the development of a system-wide crisis information management strategy.

The consultations in Geneva will fertilise the themes and issues that the CiMAG meeting, later this year, will focus on and, five years after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, remind us of two things – how much progress has been made around all aspects of crisis information management, and how much more remains to be done, in light of a context where it is no longer the technology that is holding back progress.