Course on social and new media for crisis management

From 11 to 15 April 2015, the ICT4Peace Foundation conducted an ENTRi certified training programme on a variety of new media tools and platforms used in the collection, presentation, verification, and dissemination of information. 22 participants, from as far afield as Sudan and Iraq, as well as from Europe and Asia, attended the intensive programme, held at SWISSINT in Stans-Oberdorf, Switzerland. As noted in the course description,

This course was designed to introduce its participants to a variety of digital media tools and platforms used in crisis contexts. During the training programme, participants are guided through the various phases of crisis information management, spanning from the collection, validation, analysis, visualization to the dissemination of information. In addition, they have the chance to practice using these tools through interactive activities and group work, while learning also about cyber-security to protect information and sources.

Each day started at 8am and ended at around 5pm, with participants learning from lectures as well as hands on exercises and practical lessons. A movie screening (‘Our Brand is Crisis’) alerted participants to the dangers of misinformation and disinformation campaigns. A simulation around Haiti, involved over 50 different humanitarian, geographic, donor and in-country websites, confronted them with the complexity of information gathering and verification. Hands on exercises around social media verification, designed to be difficult, were undertaken and completed with aplomb – and through it, lessons around techniques, tips and tricks for verification learnt. Participants were introduced to foundational concepts around Open Source Intelligence, Big Data, Social Media and situational awareness.

A highlight of this year’s course was to get the participants to fly a DJI Phantom IV drone – allowing them to understand first hand the complexities of flight control, the capabilities of UAVs today, and take into class some of the concerns around privacy and security. Flying the drone, and seeing it fly, also brought a fresh perspective into discussions around how UAVs are today centre and forward in humanitarian and peacekeeping theatres.

The course ended with a discussion around digital security and cyber-security, with a number of participants noting that this session alone could well be a standalone course, or even extended in future training programmes, given the importance of the topic.

Class feedback was very positive. As per ENTRi requirements, anonymised web-based input was required before and after the training programme.

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Participants also rated the quality of lectures very highly.

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Unsurprisingly, 2016’s class is divided on the length of the training programme, and this is something that has endured from the first class a few years ago. We read the feedback around the need for a longer training programme as an affirmation that this knowledge is increasingly indispensable when working around information management during, leading up to or dealing with the aftereffects of a crises. The Foundation will use this feedback to ascertain how best to offer this training programme again in the future.

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Participants also rated very highly the venue of the workshop and the organisational/admin aspects of it, handled by the ICT4Peace Foundation.

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UN and ICT4Peace engage with private sector on responding to terrorist use of ICT

ICT4Peace is pleased to announce the formal launch of its joint project with the UN Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED) on tech. sector engagement in responding to terrorist use of ICT.

Through the project, ICT4Peace and UNCTED will work with the tech. sector and civil society to deepen understanding of current industry responses to terrorist use of their products and services, particularly with regard to content and-operational related issues and identify practices and experiences.

The ultimate objective of the project is to establish a forum through which these same practices and experiences can be discussed and shared with a greater number of actors. To reach that objective, over the next twelve months a series of workshops will be held in Europe, Asia, the Americas, Africa and the Middle East with the aim of engaging industry and civil society actors from across regions. Initial progress will be presented to the UN Counter Terrorism Committee in November.

The kick-off meeting took place in Geneva within the margins of the broader Conference on Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) hosted by the government of Switzerland and the UN in Geneva on 7 and 8 April 2016. Moreover, it enjoyed the active participation of a number of industry representatives including Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Kaspersky Labs, Weibo and ASKfm, as well as representatives from UN CT and UN human rights entities, EU Home Affairs, EUROPOL’s Internet Referral Unit. Other participants included representatives from existing multi-stakeholder initiatives and think-tanks such as the Global Network Initiative, the Global Cyber Security Capacity Centre at Oxford’s Martin School, SECDEV Canada and the Institute for Strategic and International Studies in Malaysia.

Following the kick-off meeting, the project was presented to a number of governments over a working lunch. Members of the project Advisory Group also participated in an additional meeting on public-private collaboration in response to terrorist use of ICT organised by the government of Switzerland, also within the margins of the PVE conference. For further information on the project, contact Daniel Stauffacher <>.

Welcoming HXL Version 1.0: A breakthrough in humanitarian information exchange


The ICT4Peace Foundation congratulates OCHA on releasing the first version of the Humanitarian Exchange Language (HXL). The Foundation worked closely with CJ Hendrix and Andrej Verity, both visionaries who were able to see how HXL could change the information exchange landscape in humanitarian contexts, and far beyond.

In fact, the ICT4Peace Foundation’s enduring critique of the terminology is that it anchors the technology to the humanitarian domain, when in fact it can also, as easily, be used in peacebuilding and development contexts.

Andrej Verity’s informative blog post has details on the standards, and how it got to Version 1.

The photo above shows CJ Hendrix in deep conversation with Tala Hussein, from UNDP at the UN Crisis Information Management Advisory Group meeting in 2013, held in New York. The report of the meeting clearly highlights just how important the Foundation considered HXL, at a time when the idea and work around the development of the standard had few champions within and outside the UN. Over 2013 and 2014, this included facilitating meetings between the ETH in Zurich and OCHA, to help strengthen the technical development of HXL.

The Foundation’s support of HXL goes as far back as 2012, when it supported the development of what was then a seed idea.

HXL is inextricably entwined with OCHA’s Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX) framework. ICT4Peace Foundation has championed the concept behind HDX from the time of the Haiti earthquake in 2010, when we recommended the use of APIs to connect both the UN family as well as the V&TC community around disaster response. The Foundation has, as part of the United Nations CiM process, also worked closely with OCHA for years to support the development of HXL, and importantly, raise awareness around possible use cases within and outside the UN. Information featured in HDX will also come from OCHA’s COD/FOD datasets, which the ICT4Peace Foundation helped support and develop.

We hope HXL, in which we have believed and invested in for so many years, delivers on the promise of more efficient and effective information exchange where and when it is needed most.


ETH Professor (em.) Kurt R. Spillmann joins ICT4Peace International Advisory Board

The ICT4Peace Foundation is deeply honoured, that former ETH Professor Kurt R. Spillmann has kindly agreed to join its International Advisory Board. Professor Spillmann is a world renowned and eminent scholar and internationally solicited political commentator on world affairs, in particular on peace and security.

Kurt R. Spillmann was Professor of Security Studies and Conflict Research at the ETH Zurich and Professor of Modern History, especially American History, at the University of Zurich.

After studies in Zurich, Rome, New Haven (Yale University). He has worked in different functions at Yale University, at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (Washington D.C.), at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University (Washington D.C.), at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin and at Harvard University (Department of Psychology).

He has published and edited numerous books and articles in the areas of American History, American Foreign- and Security Policy, Swiss Security Policy, and Conflict Research. He was co-editor of the series Zürcher Beiträge zur Sicherheitspolitik und Konfliktforschung, organizer of the lecture-series Zeitgeschichtliche Hintergründe aktueller Konflikte, editor of the Bulletin zur schweizerischen Sicherheitspolitik and editor of Studies in Contemporary History and Security Policy. He was the founding Director of the ETH Center for Security Studies and Conflict Research (CIS).

Countering Violent Extremism & Mobile Advocacy in Myanmar

Sanjana Hattotuwa, Special Advisor at the ICT4Peace Foundation, was invited to take part in Tech Camp 2016, held at Phandeeyar, where he talked about and trained on mobile advocacy and activism strategies. Calling on the work engineered in Sri Lanka around election monitoring, civil society mobilisation, voter education and civic media, Sanjana talked about how mobiles were used to bear witness to violence, promote democratic debate, dissent and also foster interest in voting.

Sanjana also travelled to and conducted an in-depth workshop in Mandalay, the heart of Myanmar’s deeply troubling Ma Ba Tha movement. The workshop was around the use of social media in general, and mobile messaging in particular, and focussed on countering violence extremism (CVE) and civil society mobilisation campaigns. Focussing on key campaigns in Sri Lanka as well as some of the leading peacebuilding related social media campaigns globally, Sanjana explored how vitality could be engineered, the importance of designing for mobile first and also how simple, effective messaging helped promote a campaign. He also touched briefly on digital security for activists especially when going head to head with online trolls as well as others with powerful online networks.

Finally, Sanjana touched on the importance of data driven campaigns, using the wealth of data provided for example by Facebook itself in the planning, design and implementation of online campaigns against violent extremism.

Operationalizing Peace Operations Reform: New Media and New Technologies

Clearing the Decks After a Year of Reviews: Operationalizing Peace Operations Reform, organised by ZIF, the Centre for International Peace Operations, was held from 25 – 26 February just outside of Berlin. Agenda here.

Sanjana Hattotuwa, Special Advisor at the ICT4Peace Foundation, was asked to make a presentation on ‘New Technologies and New Media’ as it related to UN peacekeeping. The presentation can be found below, and in large part, it is based on the submission made at re:publica 2015 on The future of tech and peacekeeping.

Download the presentation as a PDF here.

The workshop also employed a talented graphic artist to visualise the presentations.


ICT4Peace Cyber Security Policy and Diplomacy Workshop at GCSP, Geneva on 14 and 15 March 2016

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Building Capacities for Cyber Security Negotiations
The ICT4Peace Foundation is honoured to co-organize the Cyber Security Policy and Diplomacy Workshop with the Geneva Center for Security Policy (GCSP) on 14 and 15 March.

This course examines international cyber security policy issues. Specifically, it analyses responsible state behaviour in cyber space and related concepts of international norms, confidence building measures (CBMs) as well as international cooperation in cyber space. The course building blocks include: 1) an overview of processes within the UN GGE, the OSCE, the OAS, and the ARF 2) a review of national cyber security strategy formulation trends, and 3) a simulation exercise to facilitate active learning.

For further details about the course please find the Brochure here.

Key benefits for you

The course will enable you to obtain a deeper understanding of:

  • Current international cyber security policy issues
  • National cyber security strategies
  • Current cyber security consultations and negotiation efforts at the global, regional and bilateral levels
  • Cyber security and international law
  • Norms of responsible State behaviour in cyber space
  • Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) and the role of international and regional organisations
  • National cyber security strategies

Why you should attend

The course provides an extensive overview of international cyber security negotiations and current consultation and negotiation efforts. Participants will be exposed to the context in which cyber security is being addressed in global forums, such as the UN GGE, OSCE, and Asean Regional Forum. A simulation element will provide an active learning opportunity in which participants develop a consensus text on a specific principle central to the current inter-state debate on cyber security.

Participant profile

Mid- to senior-level foreign affairs government officials involved in foreign policy development and/or cyber security diplomacy. The course is primarily targeted to officials in permanent missions based in Geneva.

Faculty profiles

Lecturers and facilitators include senior experts and diplomats with practical experience and engagement in ongoing, global, regional and bilateral cyber security negotiations. Lecturers include Michele Markoff (USA), Karsten Geier (Germany), Dr. Eneken Tikk (Estonia), Dr. Nils Melzer (Switzerland), Dr. Mika Kerttunen (Finland), Ben Hiller (OSCE)

Course Focus

The course will cover the following topics:

  • International cyber security: background and context
  • Current cyber security consultations and negotiation efforts at the global, regional and bilateral levels
  • International cyber security issues and national cyber security strategies
  • Norms of responsible state behaviour and international law
  • Building confidence between states, including the role of international and regional organisations
  • Simulation exercise

Course Design

The course is interactive in nature. Essential understanding is conveyed during a series of lectures followed by Q&A and interactive discussion of problem sets. A simulation exercise will be conducted on the second day to apply the acquired knowledge.

The Course is offered free of tuition

Apply here.

For further contacts please contact GCSP staff at:
+41 22 73096 00

ICT4Peace: Africa must unite to protect its cybersphere

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As a follow up to the ICT4Peace workshop on Capacity Building for International Cyber Security Negotiations at the AU, co-organized with African Union Commission on 15 and 16 February in Addis Ababa please find the Interview by Mr. Olusegun Ogundeji Journalist of ITWeb Africa with Dr. Daniel Stauffacher, President of ICT4Peace Foundation.

Download the interview as a PDF here.

More Information on the “Rights and Security in Cyberspace” Programme of the ICT4Peace Foundation can be found here here.

African Union Commission and ICT4Peace co-organized Capacity Building for International Cyber Security Negotiations at the AU in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia


As part of its Capacity Building Program for International Cyber Security Negotiations, ICT4Peace organised in cooperation with the African Union Commission the first cybersecurity policy and diplomacy workshop at The African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa on 15 and 16 February 2016 (see AU Press release).

Photo de famille

43 mid-level and senior diplomats from 28 English and French speaking African Countries and 3 regional organisations participated in the 1 1/2 days workshop. The teaching faculty included high-level diplomats and experts from Kenya, Estonia, Switzerland, Germany, Australia and Finland. The workshop was made possible thanks to the generous financial support from the Government of the UK and the AU Commission. Switzerland, Germany, and Australia made high-level experts available.

The workshop program can be found here. and covered the following areas:

  • Current international cyber security policy issues
  • National cyber security strategies
  • Current cyber security consultations and negotiation efforts at the global, regional and bilateral levels
  • Cyber security and international law
  • Norms of responsible State behaviour in cyber space
  • Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) and the role of international and regional organisations


It is the fourth workshop organised by ICT4Peace, after conducting the same course for the ASEAN countries hosted by the Government of Singapore, in Bogota for Latin American Countries in cooperation with the Organization of American States, for 12 East African countries in Nairobi in cooperation with the Government of Kenya and at the Hague Global Conference on Cyberspace (GCCS) hosted by the Government of the Netherlands.

See more photos from the event here.

Further information about the ICT4Peace Capacity Building Program for International Cyber Security Negotiations Program can be found here and here.

The next ICT4Peace workshop will be held for the Diplomatic Community in Geneva on 14 and 15 March 2016 at the Geneva Center for Security Policy (GCSP).