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.

International Geneva launches Geneva Cybersecurity Days

10 January 2014: The ICT4Peace Foundation is honoured to have been invited  to join the The Geneva Internet Platform, the Permanent Mission of Finland to the UN, DCAF, the GCSP, DiploFoundation, the University of Geneva, and other partners, to launch a series of events throughout 2015, entitled Geneva Cybersecurity Days. The series will bring together representatives of states; international organisations; experts; the corporate, academic, and technical sectors; and civil society, to discuss various challenges at national, regional, and global level related to cybersecurity. The Geneva Cybersecurity Days should increase awareness and further develop a global response to cybersecurity challenges along the lines of the Geneva Message on Strengthening Internet Governance.

The first Geneva Cybersecurity Day will take place on 15 January. Venue: DiploFoundation, 7 bis, Avenue de la Paix, Geneva (2nd floor). For further details of the Programme please refer to here.

The experts of the ICT4Peace Foundation have been active in this emerging field since several years with advising Governments and International Organisations, organising Conferences, participating in intergovernmental dialogues and first of all publishing cutting edge and forward looking reports on cybersecurity affairs. A few examples of our activities can be found here. Some publications can also be found here.

Call for deeper engagement by all for the peaceful use of ICTs in 2015

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

2014 has again been a busy year for all those working on ICTs to safe lives and protect human dignity as well as to maintain international peace and security. The ICT4Peace Foundation thanks all those for their tireless efforts and looks forward to further engagement with its growing network of governmental and non-governmental partners on these topics in 2015.

At the same time, ICT4 Peace urges even deeper engagement by others – parliamentarians, the private sector, civil society organisations as well as citizens themselves – on domestic and international agendas focused on promoting the peaceful use of ICTs. Such engagement can provide much-needed technical and normative support to government efforts in this area, while also ensuring more effective oversight of public policy decisions that ultimately effect us all.

The ICT4Peace Foundation

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Better Information Management in Peacekeeping Operations through ICTs – Training at UN RSCE Entebbe


More photos from the training programme here.

The ICT4Peace Foundation in cooperation with its partners, the Center for International Peace Operations (ZIF), Berlin and the Folke Bernadotte Accademy, (FBA), Stockholm carried out its fourth Crisis Information Management (CiM) Training Course from 2 to 5 December 2014.

The training course for staff of the UN Peace-Keeping Missions in the Eastern African Region was hosted by the UN Department for Peace Keeping Operations/ UN Department for Field Support at the United Nations Regional Service Centre Entebbe (RSCE), Uganda.

The course was aimed at a wide spectrum of operational UN personnel profiles and multi‐stakeholder UN peacekeeping missions:

  1. To introduce participants to evolving information technology capabilities being employed by a wide range of actors in the field, and how to best exploit the new tools and sources from within the UN Crisis Information Management Strategy -­‐-­‐-­‐ CiMS (A/65/491) to strengthen Peace-Keeping mission mandates. The balancing of information security considerations was also central to this course.
  2. To train UN personnel on first principles of field information analysis and management within a crisis scenario; skills that are also applicable to lower tempo standard day to day use.
  3. The interactive course combined lecture and workshop based training approaches that lead to a concluding desk-­‐-­‐-­‐based exercise ‘Criseland’, which has been customized to simulate key skills learnt during the week.

Course Description

Efficient and timely provision of Shared Situational Awareness (SSA) and Crisis Information Management (CIM) are essential to enable effective decision-making in Multi-dimensional Peace Operations and are a prerequisite for effects-based operations and the comprehensive approach, founding principles of the United Nations and African Union integrated mission planning processes.

Ultimately, successful integration and coordination requires a high degree of sensitivity to the interest and operating cultures of a broad set of actors, and efficient and appropriate Information Management (IM).

The role of CIM in Peace and Humanitarian Operations is the provision of SSA and Crisis Information Management, allowing decision-makers to make accurate and appropriate decisions in crisis situations – whether humanitarian or conflict based – using information collected from a variety of military, police and civilian sources.

CIM is performed by civilian, military and police peacekeeping personnel, which requires increased cooperation and coordination amongst hese institutions. In addition, modern Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) including social media (Twitter, Facebook) and crisis mapping and crowd sourcing have become essential tools to support CIM.

This course provides an overview of CIM. The course will look at the process of CIM itself, from data collection, through data processing and analysis to information dissemination and look at the cutting-edge platforms and tools now in use, within and outside the UN system.

An interactive simulation exercise will accompany the entire course and will allow participants to practice and apply the theories discussed in the different modules.

Although this course is centered on the UN system, the role that CIM can play in the process of informed decision-making and the activities that an information manager undertakes can apply to a much wider context. The course language is English.

For an overview of the ICT4Peace Training and curricula development work please see here.

ICT4Peace, with the financial support by the Swiss Government, had launched the idea of developing a Crisis Information Management Training Course in 2009 at the 16th Annual Conference of the International Association of Peacekeeping Training Centers in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The first two courses were held in Cairo in cooperation with the Cairo Center for Conflict Resolution and Peacekeeping in Africa (CCCPA) in in May 2008 and November 2008 respectively. After this intial phase CCCPA, ZIF, FBA and APSTA joined forces to develop a full fledged CiM Training course, which were held at CCCPA Cairo, IAPTC, Nairobi, ZIF, Berlin and now at the UN RSCE in Entebbe. ICT4Peace has also cooperated with the Kofi Annan Peace Keeping Training Center in Ghana, which is also offering a Crisis Information Management (CIM) Training Course.

ICT4Peace and OAS co-organize workshop on International Security and Diplomacy in Cyberspace

The ICT4Peace Foundation and the Organisation of American States (OAS) conducted a first of its kind  “Workshop on International Security and Diplomacy in Cyberspace”  with over 50 participants (Diplomats, Security and Technical Staff) from 26 Latin American countries in Bogota, Colombia, from 18 to 20 November 2014. The workshop was organized with the support of the Ministry of Information Communication and Technologies (MinTIC) of Colombia.

This new cyber security capacity building programme 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” embed and the Seoul Conference on Cyberspace, held in October 2013 with the support of the Governments of the UK, Germany and Switzerland. The next workshop will be conducted in Africa and the Asia and the Pacific in 2015. The workshop in Colombia was also supported by the Governments of the US and Canada.

The opening ceremony of the event was presided over by Diego Molano Vega, the Minister of Information Communication and Technologies of Colombia; Neil Klopfenstein, the Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (CICTE) of the OAS; and Daniel Stauffacher, President of the ICT4Peace Foundation. Carmen Sylvain, Ambassador of Canada to Colombia, Ian Gill, Second Secretary of the Embassy of the United Kingdom in Colombia, and Michele Markoff, Deputy Coordinator for Cyber Issues of the US State Department also participated in the opening ceremony. Lecturers included: Olivia Preston, FCO, UK,  Michele Markoff, US State Department, Amb. (ret.) Paul Meyer, Canada, Dr. Eneken Tikk, IISS,  both Senior Advisors of ICT4Peace Foundation, Belisario Contreras, OAS, Ben Hiller, OSCE, Gary Brown, ICRC.

  1. 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 behaviour, 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;
  1. Short Term Objectives: 1.) A better and more detailed understanding by public officials, diplomats, industry, civil society representatives from all regions of the world of international norms, 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 AP-CERT; 2.) A better understanding of the concerns, best practices, policies and institutional arrangements in the field of cyber security at the regional level;
  1. Course Content:The course provided an introduction to the subject of international cyber security  consultation and 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. A simulation exercise provided an active learning opportunity. The course  provided an opportunity for participants and lecturers to discuss and learn of cyber security-related concerns, best practices and policies at the regional level.

Please find also selected updates and  publications by ICT4Peace on rights and security in a resilient cyberspace since 2011 here:

ICT CBMs: Promoting implementation, supporting negotiations


Ambassador (ret.) Paul Meyer (Moderator) and Dr. Eneken Tikk (on the far right)

ICT4Peace, along with a number of representatives from think-tanks, academia, civil society organisations and the private sector participated in the OSCE Swiss Government Chairmanship Event on ICT CBMs: Promoting implementation, supporting negotiations, held in Vienna, Austria on 7 November 2014.

Paul Meyer, Ambassador (Ret.), Simon Fraser University, Canada, and Dr. Eneken Tikk, Senior Fellow for  Cybersecurity, IISS, Camino Kavanagh, all Senior Advisors to the ICT4Peace Foundation as well  Daniel Stauffacher, President, participated in the event.

ICT4Peace commends the OSCE for engaging non-government actors on ICT CBMs and looks forward to future collaboration as the organization moves towards implementing the existing set of CBMS agreed on in December 2013, and in shaping a new set.
The ICT4Peace Foundation has for several years called for  an increased role of civil society in ICT’s, Norms and Confidence Building Measures in the context of international Security. See its latest publications on these issues here.
Through its own work, including its policy briefs and training courses for diplomats across regions, ICT4Peace will continue to support this process as well as other international and regional processes relating to the development and implementation of CBMs, norms and capacity building currently underway. For further information on this work, see here.
In particular, ICT4Peace President Daniel Stauffacher informed about the launching of the first ever Training course on Cybersecurity Diplomacy in Colombia in cooperation with the Organisation of American States (OAS) on 18 to 20 November in Bogota. More information can be found here.

UAV Experts Meeting at the United Nations

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Co-sponsored by the ICT4Peace Foundation, the UAViators.org Experts Meeting on Humanitarian UAVs was held at the UN Secretariat in New York on Thursday, 6th November 2014.

A full report by the organisers around the closed door meeting, which was held under the Chatham House rule, will be made public soon.

The ICT4Peace Foundation is a founding member of the advisory board of UAViators.org, focussing in particular on the use of UAVs in conflict zones and the ethics around the use of UAVs for even humanitarian aid.

As noted by Patrick Meier,

The Humanitarian UAV Network (UAViators) and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) are co-organizing the first ever “Experts Meeting on Humanitarian UAVs” on November 6th at UN Head-quarters in New York. This full-day strategy meeting, which is co-sponsored by the ICT for Peace Foundation (ICT4Peace) and QCRI, will bring together leading UAV experts (including several members of the UAV Network’s Advisory Board, such as DJI) with seasoned humanitarian professionals from OCHA, WFP, UNICEF, UNHCR, UNDAC, IOM, American Red Cross, European Commission and several other groups that are also starting to use civilian UAVs or have a strong interest in leveraging this technology.

Sanjana Hattotuwa, who represented the Foundation and has been engaged with UAViators.org since its inception, articulated a number of points during the meeting, which included, inter alia,

  • How “safe and mature” UAVs really were, in light of the fact that mid-air collision detection technology across the spectrum of UAVs in operation just today wasn’t present.
  • Issues around sovereignty in the use of UAVs, in contradistinction to satellite imagery.
  • The ethics of working in the Global South as the testing ground for UAV operations.
  • Eschewing the usual marketing spiel, evidence based case studies around the use of UAVs to actually save lives, and deliver aid in a more timely and effective manner.
  • The need to focus less on manufacturer or international NGO claims around the utility of UAVs and get more voices from affected communities to speak out around how have used, and intend to use UAVs.
  • The need to have a rights based approach to community engagement regarding the use of UAVs, ensuring they have access to the imagery gathered.
  • The danger of weaponisation, not just of the UAVs themselves, but of downstream imagery acquisition, used by some actors, long after a disaster, to harm local populations.
  • The need to problematise “community engagement”, noting that in violent conflict, communities are often rent asunder, making it very difficult to engage them meaningfully without exacerbating drivers of violent conflict.

The Foundation will be involved in the publication of the final report on this meeting, and will publish it on this website when it is ready for release.