Supporting ICRC’s Global Partnerships for Humanitarian Impact and Innovation

Photo courtesy ICRC

Daniel Stauffacher and Sanjana Hattotuwa from the ICT4Peace Foundation were invited to attend the inaugural Global Partnerships for Humanitarian Impact and Innovation conference held on October 16th 2014 at the IMD Business School in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The mandate of the Global Partnership for Humanitarian Impact and Innovation (GPHI2) is to promote the development of innovative solutions to humanitarian challenges by harnessing the creative capacity of ICRC partners to respond to the needs of conflict victims. The GPHI2 brings together partners from the corporate sector, academia, research institutes, and leading humanitarian actors from the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement and beyond.

The ICT4Peace Foundation has engaged with the ICRC since 2010 around the use of Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) to strengthen its operations and mandate. Over 2010 and 2011, the Foundation met several times with representatives of the ICRC, under the Chatham House Rule, to discuss how new technologies could help strengthen the ICRC’s situational awareness, communications with disaster affected communities, stakeholders and beneficiaries, visualise complex operations and processes and the verification of information on social media.

In August 2012, the ICT4Peace Foundation, together with a diverse group of human rights and humanitarian actors, was invited by the International Red Cross to comment on the revised draft of their “Professional standards for protection work” from 2009. The standards were developed to ensure that protection work by humanitarian and human rights actors meets commonly agreed minimum professional standards, a baseline to be respected by all.

The ICT4Peace Foundation sent in detailed comments about the substance of the revised standards and suggested re-structuring the chapters from “Information Collection”, to “Data Analysis”, to “Information-Sharing”. Since the standards have so far only been used at the organizational level, the ICT4Peace Foundation stressed the need to make the standards more “user-friendly” for field personnel with an online tutorial and/or a shorter version of the standards. Currently, they are only used at the organizational level.

More details here and here.

At the conference in Lausanne, the Foundation took part in the working groups dealing with Engaging with beneficiaries in a hyper-connected world, moderated by journalist Nik Gowing and Defining and testing new partnership paradigms moderated by Daina D. Mazutis, IMD. Daniel Stauffacher in Working Group 2 underscored the importance of an institutional approach and robust policies around information management for the ICRC, mirroring the UN’s Crisis Information Management Strategy which is supported by the ICT4Peace Foundation.

Throughout the day, the Foundation updated over Twitter (with the official hashtag #gphi2) ideas around and responses to key issues, opportunities and challenges discussed at the conference. The tweets dealt with, inter alia, the use of UAVs, the need to address issues related to gender and identity when speaking about connectivity and the use of technology, the need to democratise models of DRR that used super-computing and related to this, the need to support the use of computing centres for humanitarian research, ideas related to the use of mobiles in disasters, the role of telcos in crises and ethical concerns around the use of information. The Foundation’s updates were widely shared and a bundle of all the tweets can be accessed here.

Supporting and engaging with the work and thought-leadership of Peter Maurer, the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Yves Daccord, the Director-General of ICRC, Tarun Sarwal (Innovation Adviser, ICRC), Juan Luis Coderque Galligo (Head of Corporate Partnerships) and others, the ICT4Peace Foundation will continue to support the ICRC in its unique mandate to protect human lives and dignity through strategic input and advice on how to more fully grasp the potential of technology in humanitarian aid.

Registration open: ICCM 2014 in New York

APTOPIX Superstorm Sandy

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.

The theme for this year’s event, Affected Communities in Spotlight, will focus on better engaging and understanding populations as the primary referent during a disaster.

Ms. Atefah Riazi, Chief Information Technology Officer & Assistant Secretary General, United Nations and Tan Sri Dr. Jemilah Mahmood, Chief, World Humanitarian Summit, United Nations will deliver the keynote addresses.

In addition to these two keynotes, there’s a whole raft of compelling ignite talks by some of the most interesting voices in the global crisis mapping community today.

The full agenda can be accessed here, and more details of the conference here.

In addition to co-curating and co-organising this year’s conference, the ICT4Peace Foundation hosted the 3rd International Conference on Crisis Mapping (ICCM) in Geneva, and over the years, has consistently supported the critical work of this unique community.

Please register early by clicking here.

Improving Information Management in Myanmar: Workshop with MIMU

In crisis areas, quick and informed decision-making can protect and save lives. Good and reliable data can improve decision-making in development cooperation and aid efficiency.  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 on the web, especially with the growth of mobiles and tablets, keeps increasing. This allows for a multiplicity of perspectives to surface. The challenge for experts working in civilian crisis management and development 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 visualise data in a clear way, so that it can be easily shared, interpreted, and understood by different users.

In light of these developments, a workshop was held in Yangon, Myanmar on 2nd and 3rd October around using new and social media on the web for crisis information management. Facilitated by Sanjana Hattotuwa from the ICT4Peace Foundation in cooperation with the MIMU, Myanmar and supported by UNESCO, the workshop offered a forum to discuss big data’s volume, velocity and variety, web based social media verification basics as well as practical ways to keep abreast of social media production (through personal and institutional filters). The workshop also introduced participants to new technology tools and platforms used in the collection, verification, and dissemination of information to improve situational awareness. With the working definition of Information Management as the collection, analysis, verification, presentation and sharing of information for decision making and reporting, the workshop was geared towards Information Management (IM) experts working in humanitarian operations, crisis management and development planning, management, monitoring and evaluation.

The workshop’s format, though planned to be highly interactive, had to be changed on account of the significant challenges around connectivity in Yangon. All aspects of the agenda were covered, with training focussing on what was possible using the web, mobiles, social media and information in the public domain, rather than hands-on training on each of the platform. High Definition videos featuring walkthroughs of key platforms were provided to all participants, so that even without Internet access during the workshop, they were able to see what clearly what each was capable of.

The workshop was timely, with new telecos just entering the country, promising upwards of 80% countrywide coverage in the next couple of years. SIM card prices had plummeted from just a month ago, and there was a decent 3G network for mobiles in the city, expanding to other parts of the country in the months and years to come. Because of this nascent revolution in communications, there was a lot of interest around hate speech using social media, and the module on verification was perhaps the best received. Discussions on both days were anchored to how these tools could be used by participants in the country to strengthen their institutional mandates around early warning and crisis responses as well as team or individual bases interests in keeping abreast with information published on social media. Discussions also focussed on the use of some of the services and tools around the elections next year, for voter education and election violence monitoring.

The learning objectives for the workshop were fourfold: to be able to use new media tools to collect, analyse, present, verify and disseminate information; to understand the impact new and web-based social media have on information management and situational awareness; to be aware of the added complexities that have arisen and are arising through the increased use of new media; to understand the nature of big and open data on the web and Internet, and how this information can be useful in crisis response and mitigation. Despite the significant challenges around Internet connectivity over the two days, these objectives were met.

All of the presentations by the trainer were handed over to all the participants as high quality, print ready PDFs, in addition to the high definition videos / screencasts noted above. After the workshop, a feedback form was circulated amongst the participants. The responses demonstrate how valuable the workshop was and what is a strong interest in taking key aspects of the training forward through more trainings and focussed discussions.




ICT4Peace’s Daniel Stauffacher participated in the Sino-European Cyber Dialogue

Daniel Stauffacher from the ICT4Peace Foundation was invited to participate in the Sino-European Cyber Dialogue (SECD) convened on 25-26 September 2014 in Beijing, China, following the first meeting in Geneva on 31 March – 1 April 2014.

As recorded by the GCSP, thirty-seven participants attended the second meeting of SECD. Of these, 16 delegates were from seven European countries, including six governmental cyber policy coordinators. The discussions concentrated on two broad topics: overall issues within international cybersecurity and possible futures of the Internet governance system.

Within the first topic, there was discussion on particular aspects of state behaviour in cyberspace, including those activities occurring at or below international humanitarian law. Critical infrastructure protection was highlighted as well as the burgeoning challenges of criminal and terrorist usage of the Internet. Concepts of neutrality in cyberspace were discussed as well.

Within the second topic, participants discussed aspects of the evolution/innovation of Internet governance institutions, in particular of ICANN – and what a globalisation or internationalisation of this organisation would mean in practice. Capacity building, especially where there was overlap between international cybersecurity issues and Internet governance, was also considered.

Overall, there was wide agreement that the open exchanges at the second SECD meeting were useful in deepening mutual understanding and building confidence. To further support the exchange a number of cooperation initiatives were discussed, potentially to be addressed in advance of the third SECD meeting, to occur in The Hague in April 2015.

Guerre et Paix dans le Cyberespace | War and Peace in Cyberspace

Francois Nordmann, one of the senior most Swiss diplomats in recent times, former Ambassador to France, United Kingdom, UNESCO and The Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the United Nations and Personal Advisor to two Swiss Foreign Ministers and now columnist with the leading Swiss French daily newspaper Le Temps, wrote an article on “Guerre et Paix dans le Cyberespace”, which you find here.

In his article he touches upon the recent developments in cyber-security and the emerging debate concerning the applicability of the international law. He also highlights the crucial role that ICT and new media can play in humanitarian and peace-keeping operations and mentions the role of the International Geneva and the ICT4Peace Foundation in this regard.

Guerre et Paix dans le Cyberespace

New ICT4Peace Publication: A Role for Civil Society in Cybersecurity Affairs?


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.

Download report in full colour here or for printing here.

ICT4Peace cooperates with the Organization of American States to conduct International Cybersecurity Diplomacy Course for Latin America

ICT4Peace Capacity Building for International Cyber Security Diplomacy – Promoting Openness, Prosperity Trust and Security in Cyberspace


1 September 2014, Geneva, Switzerland: ICT4Peace is pleased to announce, that is has launched a first of its kind International Cyber Security Diplomacy Training Programme. The development and delivery of the programme is supported by the Governments of the United Kingdom, Germany and Switzerland. The first Course will be delivered in November 2014 in cooperation with the Organisation of American States (OAS) for the Latin American Countries. Similar courses will be delivered for African, Asian and European Countries in 2015.

This new cyber security capacity building programme was developed 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” and the Seoul Conference on Cyberspace, held in October 2013.

Description of the Two-Day Workshop Course on International Cyber security Diplomacy

1. Long Term Objective and Impact of the Course: 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.

2. Short Term Objective: 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; 3.) A template of a Workshop Course on International Cyber Security Negotiations will be tested and established. 4.) Build a network of alumni, lecturers and experts of the workshop course, to up-date and exchange information on future developments in the global and regional international cyber security debate, research and negotiations.

3. Course Content: The course provides an introduction to the subject of international cyber security negotiations and the current consultation and negotiation efforts. Participants will be exposed to the context in which cyber security is being addressed in global fora, such as the UN GGE, OSCE, ARF and consider the key issues raised by ICTs. A simulation exercisewill provide an active learning opportunity. The course will provide an opportunity for participants and lecturers to discuss and learn of cyber security-related concerns, best practices and policies at the regional level.

4. Participants: The course will be by invitation only and of particular interest to government officials involved in foreign policy development and/or cyber security diplomacy as well as private sector and civil society representatives who have a stake in an open, free and secure regime for cyberspace. A ceiling of 20 to 25 participants per course session is recommended to facilitate discussion.

Please find also the publications of ICT4Peace on rights and security in a resilient cyberspace since 2011 here (embed and delete from text, or selected publications below:

New report on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in Humanitarian Response

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OCHA has just released an engaging report on the use of UAVs in humanitarian and non-lethal domains, titled Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in Humanitarian Response.

The ICT4Peace Foundation welcomes the report and endorses the content therein, including the need for more critical analysis around the ethical frameworks and implications around the use of UAVs for non-lethal purposes, including peacekeeping and peacebuilding.

These are concerns the Foundation has articulated through it’s involvement with the UAViators network, as a founding member and, in when setting up the network, input around the ethics of UAV usage for humanitarian purposes.

The Foundation has also explored the use of UAVs for non-lethal purposes in it’s work with a number of agencies and departments with the UN involved in crisis information management. In fact, at this year’s annual retreat for CiMAG, there was a special session on UAV’s for peacekeeping and peacebuilding domains, details of which can be read here. Salient points of discussion pre-figure that which is noted in the OCHA report, and included, the need for regulation, ethical concerns, legal frameworks and possible foci for innovation and evidence based research, the need for UN leadership in this area and the dangers around the use of UAVs in violent conflict.

Sanjana Hattotuwa, a Special Advisor at the Foundation, has for some months carefully curated a unique magazine on FlipBoard around the use of UAVs in humanitarian and non-lethal domains.

OCHA’s report is a solid foundation for more work around the use of UAVs in, as the report avers, natural disasters, slow onset emergencies and early recovery. The ICT4Peace Foundation will continue to work with OCHA and other UN actors in this regard to help ideate, innovate and critical analyse current praxis.

Contributions to UN Expert Panel on Technology and Innovation in Peace Operations

Post ZIF

ICT4Peace contributes to the work of the UN Expert Panel on Technology and Innovation in Peace Operations at ZIF, Berlin 22 – 22 August 2014.

In June 2014, UN Under-Secretaries-General Hervé Ladsous (DPKO) and Ameerah Haq (DFS) announced the appointment of a five-member Expert Panel, lead by ASG Jane Holl Lute, to  advise them on how best to use new technologies and innovations to benefit United Nations peacekeeping to be a force for peace, force for change, and a force for the future.”(See also here).

Along with other partner organisations, ICT4Peace’s Daniel Stauffacher was invited to discuss with the UN Expert Panel inter alia the following questions:

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

More specifically, Daniel Stauffacher was invited to present on the question of Information Management & Operational Decision-Making Support in Peace-keeping Operations. 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.

In his presentation, Daniel Stauffacher highlighted the UN Secretary General’s Crisis Information Management Strategy (CiMS) (A/65/491)which ICT4Peace has helped shape and implement since 2007 and discussed its opportunities and challenges. In particular he presented the work with the UN Chief Information Technology Officer (UN CITO), OCHA and other members of the members of the UN Crisis Information Management Advisory Group (CIMAG). He also highlighted the cooperation of ICT4Peace with UN DPKO/DFS in New York and the UN Peace-Keeping Mission in the Democratic Republic Congo (DRC) (MONUSCO) on improving information management and situational awareness for better decision making, to save lives and protect human dignity. Ethical questions in using ICTs and social media for peace operations and crisis management in general were also discussed, as well as a the emerging use of UAVs for non-lethal and humanitarian purposes.

In particular he put forward concrete strategic recommendations on how to further improve Crisis Information Management and Situational Awareness in UN Peace-keeping and humanitarian operations.