ICCM 2016, Manila, Philippines: Video message from ICT4Peace Foundation

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The International Conference of Crisis Mappers (ICCM) is the leading humanitarian technology event of the year, bringing together the most important humanitarian, human rights, development and media organizations with the world’s best technology companies, software developers and academics. As thus one of the few neutral spaces where such important conversations can take place, the annual ICCM conference brings together a wide range of diverse actors for important conversations that lead to concrete new projects and deliverables across a variety of diverse domains. As a community of practice, the ICCM thus helps facilitate new projects and catalyzes innovation in the area of humanitarian technology.

This year’s conference is being hosted in Manila, Philippines September 28-30, 2016 with field visits from October 1-7. The ICT4Peace Foundation co-curated and funded one of the best attended ICCM conferences in Geneva, five years ago – the first time it was brought to and held in Europe. In addition, through the support for ICCM Fellows, funding for logistics, technical input, curation and the moderation of panels, the Foundation has contributed to the success of the conference in Boston (2010), Washington (2012), Nairobi (2013) and New York (2014).

Due to unavoidable circumstances, Sanjana Hattotuwa, Special Advisor at the Foundation, who was slated to MC the conference in Manila, could not travel to the Philippines. On behalf of the Foundation, a short video message from Sanjana was played at the conference.

International Governance for Peace and Security in Cyberspace

ICT4Peace’s Daniel Stauffacher was invited to give a lecture on “International Governance for Peace and Security in Cyberspace” at the Summer School of the Swiss Study Foundation organised in collaboration with Prof. Michael Ambühl, Chair of Negotiation and Conflict Management, ETH Zurich, and former Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, on 6. September 2016 at the Centro in Magliaso, Switzerland. Daniel Stauffacher’s presentation can be found here.

This Summer School introduced core concepts of modern State structures (such as separation of powers, administrative transparency, accountability and participation) and international relations. It discussed the manifold challenges of today’s policy makers who are required to tackle problems in an ever more interdisciplinary way. In addition to this multi-dimensional nature, policies have also to be coordinated on the international stage. A particular emphasis was placed on policy questions concerning modern technologies in the IT (e.g. security, cyber warfare), health (e.g. data collection, genetic engineering) and energy sector (e.g. security of supply, climate impact). Current global challenges were highlighted under the perspective of policy. To complement the course program, an introduction to negotiation theories, negotiation engineering and decision making was given, and a workshop with simulation of international negotiations was carried out.

Build Peace 2016: Reflections

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The ICT4Peace Foundation was privileged to work with and support Build Up in the organisation of Build Peace 2016 in Zurich, from 9 – 11 September 2016. Several members of the Foundation were advisors to or part of the team behind Build Peace this year.

Build Peace is the premier annual gathering of individuals and organisations interested in the use of technology for peacebuilding and conflict transformation. Even though the venue and environs were very different to last year’s conference in Nicosia, Cyprus, the conversations were deep and meaningful across the board, and especially on the second day. The Foundation is particularly glad to see the mainstreaming of ethics and moreover, the arts and culture programme into the heart of BuildPeace. As we noted on Twitter,

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The selection of speakers and the conference format worked very well. Whereas so many others working around Peace Tech focus on the technology, Build Peace presentations, keynotes and discussions focussed on intent, context, ethics and sustainability – issues that are still worrying alien to so many working in this domain. A lot the Foundation encountered over the two days and spoke with were also extremely appreciative of the ‘unconference’ at the end, noting that this was the first or one of the very few conferences they had attended which gave everyone a voice. 

With Build Peace 2016 anchored to transformation, all the sessions probed into issues central to the use of technology in peace. On the second day, Prof. Dirk Helbing from ETH, and a leading champion of Build Peace, gave a presentation that was extremely well received on a new paradigm for peace. The short talks were well curated, offering perspectives from around the world and as far afield as South-East Asia around the use of technology – in its broadest sense – to build peace at community, regional and national levels. The workshops, often in parallel, were hard to choose between and offered deeper dives into specific regional contexts, issues, topics or technologies.

Our Twitter feed (@ictpeace) and the hashtag #buildpeace, #ict4peace or #peacetech over the last couple of days is full of insights, observations, comments and discussions around the conference and the issues it raised. We have archived every public single tweet and retweet with these hashtags and can freely make this content available to interested researchers and data scientists. Please contact sanjanahattotuwa [at] ict4peace [dot] org with your request and a brief outline of why you want the data.

Sanjana Hattotuwa, a Special Advisor at the Foundation and Advisor to Build Peace, gave some well-received introductory remarks on Day 1 on the conference, the slidedeck of which is available online.

Protection Information Management Working Meeting: September 2016

The ICT4Peace Foundation has for many years worked with the UN and ICRC to strengthen the awareness and understanding of, need for as well as the meaningful implementation of standards, frameworks and technologies to protect the information of vulnerable communities in violent contexts, as well as refugees and internally displaced persons.

In August 2012, Simone Eymann on behalf of the ICT4Peace Foundation participated in a one-day consultation, co-organised by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and InterAction, on “Protection in violent situations: standards for managing sensitive information“.

Having participated remotely in the first Protection Information Management (PIM) meeting held in May 2015, and subsequently given input to working documents that captured the discussions at the meeting, ICT4Peace Foundation’s Sanjana Hattotuwa was invited by UNHCR and the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) to attend the second PIM meeting, held in Geneva from 2 – 4 December 2015.

Sanjana was again invited to participate in the Protection Information Management Working Meeting held in the UN City in Copenhagen in September 2016, co-hosted and organised by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Danish Refugee Council (DRC).

The intensive, two and a half day working meeting was anchored to,

  • Articulate the PIM Process: Articulate and understand linkages between the PIM Process and protection analysis, strategy and response
  • Use of and refinement of the PIM Matrix: Further refine the cover page and data outputs for PIM categories and gather feedback & lessons learned in using the PIM Matrix
  • PIM Principles in Action and the PIM Process: Share and refine the unpacking and operationalization of the PIM Principles and their linkages to the individual steps of the PIM process
  • Essential Data: Explore and articulate the characteristics of data which are critical for an informed protection response
  • PIM Capacity Building and Learning: Stocktaking of what has been done, developed, and is available in terms of protection information management learning and briefing materials
  • Review and agree on ‘Next Steps’
  • Modalities for collaborating on PIM

Though a full report from the workshop is pending at the time of writing, as one preliminary outcome endorsed by the participants, UNHCR and DRC, the Foundation agreed to host, and help create and implement a website for the PIM process, which would contain all the relevant documentation, standards, reports as well as links to on-going discussions and relevant materials. Sanjana, on behalf of the Foundation, was also tasked with helping lead a data-sharing working group around PIM.

ICT4Peace on Prevention of Violent Extremism (PVE) at the 2016 Annual Conference of Swiss Ambassadors in Geneva and at ETH in Zurich

ICT4Peace is proud to have been invited on 23 August 2016 by the 2016 Annual Conference of Swiss Ambassadors and foreign representations at the Palais des Nations in Geneva to participate in the Workshop on “Preventing Violent Extremism – a Swiss and Geneva specialty”. The Panel, which was chaired by Mr. Stefan Husy, Ambassador-at-Large for International Counter-Terrorism and highlighted three spheres of PVE action:

  1. Engaging communities, empowering youth and women
  2. Dialogue and conflict prevention
  3. Strategic communications, internet and social media

ICT4Peace’s Daniel Stauffacher was presenting inter alia on topic three and the work of ICT4Peace on PVE in cooperation with the UN Security Council CTC/CTED. His presentation can be found here.

In this context, on 25 August 2016, ICT4Peace and UN CTED organised at ETH Zurich the first of three workshops with 48 participants on Private sector engagement in prevention of the use of ICT and the internet to promote violent extremism. This joint ICT4Peace-UN CTED project was formally launched on request by the United Nations on 7 April at the United Nations in Geneva.

The next workshops will be held in Silicon Valley on 11 and 12 September 2016  and in Malaysia on 2 and 3 November 2016.UNCTED/ICT4Peace will report on the outcome of this process to the UN Security Council CTC on 30 November and 1 December 2016.  

In preparation of this process, ICT4Peace was invited on 16 December 2015 by the United Nations in New York to moderate a technical panel discussion on Collaboration between the Public and Private Sector to prevent violent extremism, promote safety and counter messaging on the Internet, while respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms.

In parallel processes, ICT4Peace has been participating in a study led by the UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Geneva Academy on countering violent extremism and terrorism online, freedom of expression and the right to privacy, and conducting training activities countering violent extremism in Myanmar.

ICT4Peace on Peace and Security in the cyberspace at Science for Peace Conference, Malaysia

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ICT4Peace was invited by the Academy of Sciences Malaysia, to make a presentation on Peace and Security in the cyberspace at the International Conference on Science for Peace in Kuala Lumpur on 15 and 16 August 2016. Daniel Stauffacher’s Presentation can be found here.

The Conference was opened by by His Royal Highness Sultan Nasrin Muizzuddin Shah, Sultan of Perak. His Keynote Address on the topic of Science for Peace can be found here.

The program of the conference can be found here.

Build Peace 2016 at ETH Zurich: Towards Transformation

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Excerpt from the Build Peace 2016 website. The conference will take place at ETH Zurich on September 9 – 11, 2016 in Zürich, Switzerland. Check out details here.

If you are thinking of attending the conference, we strongly recommend you buy your tickets soon, since in past years we have sold out well in advance. 

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Peacebuilding is fundamentally about change, and most discussions about peacebuilding are really about how to change less than ideal situations into slightly better ones. Over time, answers to these questions have increasingly recognised that conflict might in fact contribute to positive political, cultural and societal processes. The change needed no longer revolves around resolving or managing conflict, but rather transforming it away from violence and destruction towards constructive change.

This perspective sees the different spheres of politics, culture and society as closely linked in conflict contexts and the potential subjects to such transformations. So while we explored whether there was a role for technology in peacebuilding in 2014, focusing more specifically on who and how in 2015, we propose to tackle the change question head on at Build Peace 2016 by asking why we use technology to build peace. What are we trying to change, and what can technology affect in these processes?

To cover the key facets of these complex questions, we identify three areas of enquiry as starting points to continue our discussion on how technology can contribute to building peace.

  • Political transformation Discussions on the role of technology in political processes have often focused on resistance – how activists mobilise against oppressive regimes (we heard from Dalia Haj-Omar and her experience in Sudan last year), for example. We propose to extend this conversation to explore whether and how technology can support wider inclusion in and engagement with political processes in peacebuilding. Does technology provide new avenues to engage with or challenge Track 1 negotiation processes? Or does it lead to alternative (or complementary) peace efforts, independent of political and institutional support? Can technologies closely associated with political processes be trusted in fragile or rapidly changing peacebuilding environments?
  • Socio-cultural transformation From current project data we know that the bulk of work that uses technology for peacebuilding focuses on mobilisation and engagement, with the aim of changing behaviours. But in order to contribute to peace, these transformations require reaching a certain critical mass. So what role can technology play in changing behaviours and cultural manifestations? And can technology facilitate processes to build this critical mass? And can it help us know when a critical mass has been reached?
  • Ethics Finally whether we are engaged in political or socio-cultural transformation, there are always values that guide how we go about this work. But technology brings about specific considerations. What ethical challenges does technology highlight in peacetech? What are the ‘side effects’ of using technology in peacebuilding and do they outweigh perceived benefits? How do we avoid the ‘white saviour industrial complex’ and the perpetuation of dominant power structures? Does the sourcing of the technologies we use matter? What values should guide a peacetech industry that seeks to constructively transform society?

Preparing for the next UN GGE: ICT4Peace at Cybersecurity Workshop in Beijing

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Preparing for the next UN GGE: ICT4Peace at Cybersecurity Workshop in Beijing

ICT4Peace’s Daniel Stauffacher was invited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China and the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), to moderate a panel at an International Workshop on Cyber Security, in Beijing, China, on 11-12 July 2016. The theme of the two-day long workshop was “ Building norms, rules or principles for cyberspace: promoting an open, secure, stable, accessible and peaceful ICT environment”. The workshop included presentations by countries, UN agencies, NGOs and academics on various topics, and presented an opportunity for senior-level officials and experts to exchange views on matters of pressing concern related to the issue of cyber security. Senior Government officials from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Cuba, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, Pakistan, Korea, Russia, Serbia, South Africa, Switzerland, UK, U.S participated in the meeting.

The topic of Daniel Stauffacher’s panel was “ International cooperation” and included senior officials from the Governments of Japan and China and representatives of the ITU, ICANN and UN DESA. Daniel Stauffacher’s introductory statement can be found here.

The UN General Assembly resolution (70/237) on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security, called upon Member States to promote further, at multilateral level, the consideration of existing and potential threats in the field of information security, as well as possible strategies to address the threats emerging in this field, consistent with the need to preserve the free flow of information. A new United Nations Group of Governmental
Experts (GGE) is to be established in August 2016 to continue to study, among other things, norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviour of States in the use of ICTs.

The 2015 UN GGE agreed on a substantive consensus report on norms, rules or principles of the responsible behaviour of States in the cyber-sphere as well as confidence building measures, international cooperation and capacity building which could have wider application to all States. It also addresses how International Law applies to the use of information and communications technologies and also makes recommendations for future work. The 2015 UN GGE Report (A/70/174) can be found here.

Its findings include:

  • In their use of ICTs, States must observe, among other principles of
    international law, State sovereignty, the settlement of disputes by peaceful means, and non-intervention in the internal affairs of other States.
  • Existing obligations under international law are applicable to State use of ICTs and States must comply with their obligations to respect and
    protect human rights and fundamental freedoms.
    States must not use proxies to commit internationally wrongful acts using ICTs, and should seek to ensure that their territory is not used by non-State actors to commit such acts.
  • The UN should play a leading role in promoting dialogue on the security of ICTs in their use by States, and in developing common understandings on the application of international law and norms, rules and principles for responsible State behaviour.

The Beijing workshop considered how the international community could build upon recent developments and generate momentum for a successful new GGE 2016-2017, making contribution towards building an open and cooperative cyberspace for all countries in the world.

Further Information on the work of ICT4Peace in the field of Rights and Security in the Cyberspace can be found here.

ICT4Peace cybersecurity activities in June

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During the month of June ICT4Peace participated in a number of events related to its global project on ICT and international peace and security.

These included UNIDIR’s Annual Cyber Stability Conference where a presentation was made by ICT4Peace Senior Advisor, Dr. Camino Kavanagh on norms and international security, with a specific focus on the work of the Group of Governmental Experts and the UN GA’s First Committee on Disarmament and International Security.

Earlier that same week, Dr. Kavanagh participated in the Geneva International Security Forum, where she was invited to speak on a panel chaired by DCAF entitled Global Cyber Governance.
Sponsored by Zurich’s ETH, Dr. Kavanagh’s presentation focused on the topic of emerging norms in responding to terrorist use of ICT and cyberspace – from content-related issues to potential terrorist attacks against critical infrastructure – with a specific focus on the private sector and public-private partnerships.

On 27-29 June, she and ICT4Peace researcher Adam Hadley, made a similar presentation at a NATO Advanced Research Workshop hosted by the University of Swansea and Dublin City University entitled ‘Terrorist Use of ICT: Assessment and Response’.

More information on the work of ICT4Peace in the field of ICT and Peace and Security can be found here.

ICT4Peace at Lions Club Zurich Metropole on Cybersecurity as an international challenge for States and Companies

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ICT4Peace’s Daniel Stauffacher was invited by the Lions Club Zurich Metropole to give a presentation on 7 June 2016 on the mission of the ICT4Peace Foundation as a policy and action-oriented think tank, to promote cybersecurity and a peaceful cyberspace through international negotiations with governments, companies and non-state actors, and to champion the use of ICTs and media for Crisis management, humanitarian aid and peace building.

In particular he mentioned its work since 2004 on improving crisis information management systems of the United Nations at Headquarters and in the field by using modern ICTs and new media.

The Cyber-war-threat as an international challenge for states and companies was the main point of his presentation. Based on examples of cyber-incidents reported by the media Daniel Stauffacher described the international security challenge for states and the ongoing global, regional and bilateral diplomatic processes. He invited the global business community and civil society to engage in these processes. He also presented the policy research, that ICT4Peace experts are carrying out since 2007 and mentioned the Cybersecurity training courses, that ICT4Peace was co-hosting in cooperation with the Organisation of American States, ASEAN, African Union, GCSP Geneva and OESCE in Vienna.

His presentation can be found here.