ICT4Peace supports the safe, coordinated and effective use of humanitarian drones (UAVs)

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ICT4Peace participated in The Humanitarian UAV Network (UAViators) recent 3-day Policy Forum on Humanitarian UAVs at the Rockefeller Foundation in Bellagio Italy. The purpose of the Forum was to draft guidelines for the safe, coordinated and effective use of UAVs in humanitarian settings. Sanjana Hattotuwa, Special Advisor, ICT4peace, is a founding Board member of UAViators.

In Bellagio, UAViators brought together a cross-section of experts from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), UN Department for Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), World Food Program (WFP), International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), American Red Cross, European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Organization (ECHO), Medair, Humanitarian OpenStreetMap, ICT for Peace Foundation (ICT4Peace), DJI, BuildPeace, Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO), Trilateral Research, Harvard University, Texas A&M, University of Central Lancashire, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Pepperdine University School of Law and other independent experts.

Five key sets of guidelines were drafted, each focusing on priority areas where policy has been notably absent: 1) Code of Conduct; 2) Data Ethics; 3) Community Engagement; 4) Principled Partnerships; and 5) Conflict Sensitivity.

These five policy areas were identified as priorities during the first Humanitarian UAV Experts Meeting, co-organized at the UN Secretariat in New York by UAViators and OCHA and co-sponsored by ICT4Peace.

In March 2014, Patrick Meier, the founder of UAViators had invited Sanjana Hattotuwa of the ICT4Peace Foundation to give input into what at the time was a draft note around creating a global network of civilian UAV pilots to support humanitarian efforts.

Report of Crisis Information Management Advisory Group (CiMAG) 2015 Retreat

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Led by the UN’s Office of Information and Communications Technology (OICT) and organised by the ICT4Peace Foundation, the 2015 Crisis Information Management Advisory Group (CiMAG) meeting was held on 8th and 9th June in New York. Representatives from OICT, OCHA, UNOCC, ICTD/DFS, UN Global Pulse, UNHCR, DPKO-DFS, UNDP, UNHCHR, UNOSAT, UNICEF, WFP, EOSG, UNDP and DPA participated along with, on the second day, representatives from the DataPop Alliance, Nethope, the Digital Humanitarian Network, World Bank, MapAction, Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and What3Words. Ambassador Per Thöresson, Sweden, ASG UN CITO Ms. Atefeh Riazi, Dr. David Nabarro, former UN Special Envoy on Ebola and UNMEER SRSG Peter Graaff also participated by video-conference in the workshop.

Download the full report of the workshop here, and the Conclusions and Recommendations (short report for senior management) here.

Photos from the CiMAG retreat can be viewed here.

ICT4Peace at UNIDIR Cyber Stability Conference in Geneva

ICT4Peace was invited by The United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research to participate in its 2015 Cyber Stability Conference entitled “Regime Coherence” on 9 July 2015, Palais des Nations, in Geneva, Switzerland. The Agenda you find here.

This year’s conference aimed to support discussions on how current and future norm-setting cyber initiatives can be coordinated to further the development of a pragmatic global approach to cyber stability and avoid being in unintentional conflict with one another. The conference brought together stakeholders from the Geneva diplomatic community, cyber industry, and capital-based policymakers to discuss and explore ways in which the cyber community can better align strategic goals, and promote a stable and secure cyber environment. From ICT4Peace the following colleagues participated:

  1. Ms. Camino Kavanagh, Senior Advisor, ICT4Peace Foundation, chaired the panel entitled:” UN Machinery: A Strategic Approach to Understanding Cyber?”
  2. Dr. Eneken Tikk-Ringas, IISS, and Senior Advisory, ICT4Peace, chaired the Panel entitled: “Avoiding Dissonance: A Round Table on Future Inter-Regional Collaboration” and participated in the Panel entitled: “Cyber and International Law” on the topic “The Quest for New Norms: State Exercise of Normative Power”.
  3. Dr. Daniel Stauffacher, President, ICT4Peace Foundation, participated in the Panel entitled: “New Approaches to Cyber Stability” on the topic: “The Future of Cyber Stability: A Civil Society Perspective”. His presentation can be found here.

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ICT4Peace at UN General Assembly interactive hearing on WSIS

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The ICT4Peace Foundation is honoured to have been invited to speak at the UN General Assembly on the importance of the emerging ICT tools, including traditional and new media for supporting actors working in peace operations, peace building, humanitarian response and the protection of fundamental rights.

ICT4Peace’s President, Daniel Stauffacher participated at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) – UN General Assembly interactive hearing on 2 July 2015 at the UN in New York, and delivered the following statement.

The Audio recording of Daniel’s presentation can be found here.

“Mr. President, Esteemed Co-facilitators, Madame Chair, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honour for the ICT4Peace Foundation to have been invited to this important meeting. I also would like to thank H.E. Mr. Mohamed Khaled Khiari, Permanent Representative of Tunisia to the United Nations for his kind words. I also remember with great fondness our close cooperation in both phases of the WSIS process in Geneva and Tunis. ICT4Peace has actively participated in the earlier meetings related to the WSIS review processes lead by UNESCO and ITU and CSTD Secretariat respectively.

ICT4Peace is a policy and action-oriented international Foundation, based in Geneva that promotes cyber security and the peaceful use of cyberspace. It explores explores and champions the use of ICTs and media for crisis management, humanitarian assistance, peacekeeping and peace building.

The ICT4Peace Foundation is a brainchild of Paragraph 36 of the WSIS Tunis Commitment, which addresses the role of ICTs in preventing, responding to and recovering from conflict.

Para 36, which is our “raison d’etre” and close to our heart, reads as follows:

36. We value the potential of ICTs to promote peace and to prevent conflict, which, inter alia, negatively affects achieving development goals. ICTs can be used for identifying conflict situations through early-warning, systems preventing conflict, promoting their peaceful resolution, supporting humanitarian action, including the protection of civilians in armed conflicts, facilitating peacekeeping missions, and assisting post conflict peace-building and reconstruction efforts.

Allow me also to remind all present here today, that the United Nations Millenium Declaration of 2000, in its first paragraphs, addresses the issues of peace, security and disarmament, along with economic and social development and poverty eradication as its overarching goals. Therefore, and similar to the important achievements in using ICTs for Development, the Heads of States in Tunis invited the international community to pay more attention to the great potential of emerging ICT tools for supporting actors working in peace operations, peace building, humanitarian response and the protection of fundamental rights.

Since WSIS, a vibrant community of state and non-state actors has emerged. This community has developed a broad range of new ICT tools for peaceful purposes and in support of humanitarian operations. These include tools such as crowdsourcing like Ushahidi, crisis mapping, two-way communications with victims of disasters and so forth. In particular informal communities of expertise such as the Crisis Mappers Conference, the Digital Humanitarian Network or the BuildPeace Conference have contributed significantly to developing and deploying ICTs in support of crisis information management systems and peace-building efforts. But more work is needed.

On the other hand, over the past decade we have also witnessed how ICTs are increasingly used for purposes detrimental to peace and security, including hacking and other attacks on digital networks and systems. Traditional and social media are also being used to promote disharmony and conflict between and within countries and increasingly, to incite violence. Therefore Governments, international organizations and civil society must urgently address the newly emerging threats through combating crime and terrorism, while respecting human rights, developing norms of responsible state behavior and confidence-building measures in the cyberspace.

Allow me to thank the Secretariat of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development for an excellent description of the challenges and achievements in the context of para. 36 of WSIS 2005 Tunis Commitment in their report: “Implementing WSIS Outcomes – A ten Year Review “ (see page 27).

I would also like to thank the authors of the report of “WSIS+10 Statement on the Implementation of WSIS Outcomes” for including a reference to paragraph 36 in its Preamble, which inter alia reads as follows:

“..In particular we reaffirm para 36 of the Tunis Commitment regarding the potential of ICTs to promote peace and to prevent conflict.”

In conclusion, I would li to reiterate ICT4Peace’s commitment to the development of ICTs for peace and security for an open, free and secure cyberspace.

I invite UN member states and all the stake-holders to reaffirm para. 36 of the Tunis Commitment regarding the potential of ICTs to promote peace and to prevent conflict and contribute to its implementation.

Thank you very much.”

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More information about ICT4Peace’s work with the UN Secretariat, Agencies, Fund and Programmes in the field Crisis Information Management you find here.

Please find Daniel Stauffachers presentation on 4 and 5 May 2015 to the United Nations member states in Geneva, where he called again for the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for peaceful purposes as part of the WSIS Review processes.

ICT4Peace on Strategic Communications in UN Peace Operations

ICT4Peace’s Daniel Stauffacher was invited by the US Institute for Peace and Folke Bernadotte Academy to participate in a Challenges Forum workshop on Strategic Communications in UN Peace Operations on 23 June 2015 in Washington DC.

“Peace operations do not generally succeed through the threat or actual use of military force alone. UN peace operations strive to combine its unique mixture of ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ power to create peace and stability. UN missions have begun to move from crisis communications and more classic 20th Century public information capacities to a more modern strategic communications approach, underpinned by segmented audience targeting, regularly refined and adjusted and supported by the use of digital, social and other new media as well as more traditional forms of outreach. But a decisively more strategic approach is urgently required if UN peacekeeping is to succeed in accomplishing its Security Council mandated tasks and missions.”

The Agenda of the workshop can be found here, and Daniel Stauffacher’s presentation here.

The main points of the Foundation’s input, the concept and content of which was fleshed out by Sanjana Hattotuwa, Special Advisor, ICT4Peace Foundation, can be summarised as follows:

There is an essential symbiosis between Strategic Communications to put out verified information out to the public to inform and to quell rumours, misinformation, disinformation

and

Crisis Information Management in the service of getting more reliable and timely information around a particular context, region, actor, process or incident to make decisions to (1) protect the peace or humanitarian mission and the victims and (2) reporting,

With Crisis Information Management (CiM), we mean both information generation (output) and well as information ingestion (input, from UN sources, crowdsourcing etc) during a crisis.

There is a need for “Digital Bluecaps”:

  1. There is a need for Information Managers, who are also able to act as public information officers, and who can leverage the same platforms used for situational awareness to push out information on a timely and strategic basis;
  2. There is a need to redefine roles and responsibilities within a mission around rapid response and identification of actionable information;
  3. There is a need for Training around multi-purpose social media platforms is needed.
  4. There is a need to create institutional architectures,able to ingest public domain information as well as produce and promote verified information.

Create a digital Peace Corps:

  1. Go beyond an emphasis on kinetic responses;
  2. Recognise value of efficient information management in generating effective outcomes;
  3. Create a cadre able to take on the worst (or best?) of ISIS, Al Shabab etc. using the same tools, techniques, apps and platforms they use for counter-messaging;
  4. Proactively produce content that addresses situational and contextual needs, augmenting hope, de-legitimising rumours and stemming spread of fear.

The video of Daniel Stauffacher’s presentation and panel discussion can be found here or seen below. The ICT4Peace Foundation’s presentation by Daniel Stauffacher is from 4:57:24 to 5:29:52.

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Welcoming UN’s report on the use of ICTs to secure the right to life

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A new report released by the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, titled the ‘Use of information and communications technologies to secure the right to life‘ strongly resonates with the ICT4Peace Foundation’s work, training and output over the years to mainstream the use of technology in peacebuilding and human rights.

As noted in the summary,

In the present report, submitted to the Human Rights Council pursuant to its resolution 26/12, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions discusses the implications of information and communications technologies (ICTs) for the protection of the right to life.

The Special Rapporteur surveys existing applications of ICTs for promoting, protecting and monitoring human rights. While noting the potentially transformative role of “civilian witnesses” in documenting human rights violations and the challenges of using the evidence generated and transmitted by those witnesses — such as verification —, the Special Rapporteur considers how various international human rights mechanisms currently benefit from such material. He makes several recommendations, including that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights appoint a specialist in digital evidence to assist it in making the best use of ICTs.

The ICT4Peace Foundation, through consultations at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and by way of substantive input into draft versions of this report, is pleased with the scope, observations and recommendations by the Special Rapporteur, expanding also on Paragraph 36 of the World Summit of Information Society (WSIS) Tunis Declaration, from 2005 (see also ICT4Peace Foundation report of 2005 on the use of Information and Communications Technologies for peacebuilding (ICT4Peace), with a Preface by Kofi A. Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations). Paragraph 36 values the potential of ICTs to promote peace and to prevent conflict and the protection of civilians in armed conflicts.

Recognising the UN’s institutional investment around crisis information management, the report flag’s (Page 18, Point 93) the Foundation’s role in strengthening situational awareness including around complex political emergencies.

The broader United Nations community has invested in harnessing the potential of ICTs, particularly in the area of crisis information management (A/69/517). The United Nations Office of Information and Communications Technology has, in conjunction with the ICT4Peace Foundation, coordinated the Crisis Information Management Advisory Group, which has become a forum to discuss technological developments in humanitarian aid and crisis information management.

The Foundation’s sustained engagement with OHCHR over the years around digital security, training and strategic adaptation of ICTs finds expression in the report’s recommendations to, inter alia, the UN. The Foundation particularly welcomes the appointment of “on a consultancy basis and as soon as possible, a digital content specialist to provide advice with respect to information received from or produced by civilian witnesses and to serve as an interface with external networks of expertise in that area.”

UN Crisis Information Management Advisory Group (CiMAG) retreat looks at Ebola response

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ICT4Peace was again invited by ASG UN Chief Information Technology Officer Ms. Atefeh Riazi to organise again the UN Crisis Information Management Retreat (CIMAG) 2015. The themes of this year’s retreat were as follows:

  • An introspection of the UNMEER / UN Ebola response, interrogating in particular the adoption of Crisis Information Management (CiMS) principles to strengthen collaboration and coordination in the response efforts
  • A retrospection of CiM efforts of the UN since Haiti 5 years ago, ending with UNMEER, to understand what’s changed and what remain key challenges.
  • Moving forward, develop concrete recommendations for the UN top Management on how data and technology can be better leveraged within the UN system and beyond to manage humanitarian crisis such as Ebola.

Approximately 30 Information Management Specialists from the UN Secretariat, UN Organisations responsible for Peacekeeping, Peacebuilding and Humanitarian Operations participated on 8 and 9 June in Manhattan New York Meeting (UN OICT, OCHA, WHO, DPKO/DFS, UNDP, UNICEF, World Bank,UNOSAT, UNMEER, UNHCR, UN OCC, UN DPA, UN DPI, UN Global Pulse).

The Agenda of the Meeting can be found here. More photos from the retreat can be seen here.

Two top UN officials responsible for managing the Ebola crisis participated in the meeting: Under-Secretary General, Dr. David Nabarro, Special UN Envoy for Ebola and Under-Secretary General and Special Representative for United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) Peter Jan Graaf. A number of concrete recommendations for improving Crisis Information Management in crisis of this nature were developed.

The meeting was made possible thanks to the generous financial support by the Government of Sweden and UN OICT.

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Some Background Information o the UN Crisis Information Management Strategy and CiMAG:

The 2010 Report of the Secretary-General (A/65/491) on the Status of implementation of the information and communications technology strategy for the United Nations Secretariat, prominently underscores the Crisis Information Management (CiM) Strategy, Under the section ‘United Nations system-wide harmonization efforts’, the report notes (Pg. 38):

“Crisis information management strategy. The Crisis Information Management Strategy is based on the recognition that the United Nations, its Member States, constituent agencies and non-governmental organizations need to improve such information management capacity in the identification, prevention, mitigation, response and recovery of all types of crises, natural as well as man-made. The strategy will leverage and enhance this capacity and provide mechanisms to integrate and share information across the United Nations system. The Office of Information and Communications Technology, together with the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support, has worked closely with United Nations organizations such as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and WFP and other entities such as the ICT for Peace Foundation in developing and implementing this strategy. It is envisaged that membership will be expanded to include other United Nations organizations in the near future.”

In December 2014, the UN General Assembly approved the update of 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). The report mentions: “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.”

Subsequently, the General Assembly in its resolution dated 26 December 2014 (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.

Annex I: Members of CiMAG include inter alia: UN CITO, Office of SG, OCHA, DPKO, DFS, DPA, UNHCR, WFP, OHCHR, UNDP, UNICEF, DSS, UNFPA, PBSO, ICT4Peace.

Annex II: Reports on the CiMAG Retreats of previous years are to be found below:

ICT4Peace invited to OSCE Workshop on Cyber Security in Tashkent

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On 20 May 2015 ICT4Peace was invited by the OSCE and the Government of Uzbekistan to participate in a national workshop in Tashkent on Regional and International Cyber/ICT Security, use of the Internet for Terrorist Purposes and Cybercrime. The complete program can be found here.

The two-day workshop on cyber and ICT security issues brought together some 40 participants, including 10 international experts from Austria, Estonia, France, Germany, Switzerland, UK, USA as well as representatives of the national parliament, judiciary, ministries for information technology, foreign affairs, academia and law enforcement agencies.

Mr. Ben HILLER, Cyber Security Officer, TNT Department, OSCE chaired and moderated the panel entitled ‘Cyber/ICT security in the context of regional and international security/Cyber Diplomacy’.

The session reviewed regional/international efforts and processes designed to enhance international cyber/ICT security in particular on the policy and diplomatic level and between States.

Ben Hillers introductory remarks can be found here. The presentations of the panelists can be found as follows:

ENTRi certified course on new media in crisis information management

For the second consecutive year, the ICT4Peace Foundation’s Special Advisor Sanjana Hattotuwa led the training of a new and unique ENTRi course on the use of new media for crisis management. The course was held from 18 – 22 May at the European Academy Grunewald in Berlin, Germany. As the course description notes,

This course introduces participants to a variety of new media tools and platforms used in the collection, presentation, verification, and dissemination of information. Participants have the chance to practice using these tools through interactive activities and group work, while learning about cyber-security to protect information and sources.
In crisis areas, quick and informed decision-making can save lives. New web, mobile and internet-based media and information dissemination platforms are constantly evolving, producing increasing amounts of content. The speed with which information is created, published and disseminated keeps increasing. This allows for a multiplicity of perspectives to surface. The challenge for experts working in civilian crisis management is finding a way to filter the information and determine what is relevant with the overload of information, and further, to communicate that effectively to the right people in an efficient manner. Additionally, new tools are being developed to help experts visualize data in a clear way, so that it can be easily shared, interpreted, and understood by different users. It is therefore vital that experts working in crisis areas are aware of these tools and know how to apply them to their work.

The training was conducted in collaboration with the renowned Zentrum für Internationale Friedenseinsätze gGmbH (ZIF), based in Berlin, and introduced 24 participants from a range of backgrounds to a variety of new media tools and platforms used in the collection, presentation, verification, and dissemination of information.

Participants used several leading web based tools, apps and services as part of interactive activities and group work, while learning about digital communications security as well in order to protect information and sources.

Photos from the training course can be found here.

Kimberly Roberson and Cedric Vidonne from UNHCR, Rina Tsubaki from the European Journalism Centre and Eoghan Mac Suibhne, a consultant with the the world renowned social media verification agency Storyful were also part of the training. All of them delivered compelling presentations and took the class through exercises, based on real world scenarios and content, that familiarised them with key concepts and tools to sift through the tsunami of information and data in order to find actionable, verified content. Modules were also anchored to information visualisation and data visualisation principles, and an introduction to crisis information management (CiM) architectures at the United Nations.

ICT4Peace Foundation designed and led several exercises as well anchored to the information visualisation and mapping, in addition to a comprehensive exercise introducing participants to around 30 of the world’s leading crisis information management platforms and websites currently active, and getting them to use each one. Participants were introduced to OpenStreetMap, and also to Google’s Map Engine Lite. Using Field Papers, participants went out of the class, and literally walked around the several neighbourhoods in Berlin in order to collaboratively map it. Participants were also introduced to new platforms like What3Words.

As was the case last year, feedback from the class strongly suggested the need for on-going training courses by ENTRi and ZIF on similar lines, and a new found appreciation, from every single participant, of the ways through which new media can help strengthen the effectiveness of their professional work and institutional mandates.