ICT4Peace has been an independent think tank since 2003 in Geneva. It fosters political discussion and common action to support international and human security in cyberspace. All its activities are focused on the use of information and communications technology (ICT) to fulfil its key goals: save lives, protect human dignity, and promote peace and security in cyberspace. ICT4Peace acts as an early mover in identifying important challenges, bringing visibility and high-level attention to critical new issues. It carries out policy research examining how to use technologies to support state and human security, and develops capacity building through the ICT4Peace Academy to support the full participation of all stakeholders in ICT discussions, negotiations, and solutions. The description of the concrete areas of its work can be found in this document.
Inter alia the areas presently covered are deepening the understanding of the ICT-related activities and services provided by private (cyber) security companies and their impacts on human rights, international law, and security international law, norms of responsible state behaviour in cyberspace, including neutrality during cyberwarfare; mis- and disinformation and hate speech; gender and ICT and artificial intelligence (AI), peace and ethics.
Digital policy issues
Network security, cyberconflict, and warfare
An open, secure, stable, accessible, and peaceful ICT environment is essential for all and requires effective cooperation among states, civil society, and the private sector to reduce risks to international peace and security, and secure economic and social development. There are, however, very disturbing trends in the global ICT environment, including a dramatic increase in incidents involving the malicious use of ICTs by state and non-state actors, such as criminals and terrorists. These trends create enormous risks to peace and security in cyberspace for states, but equally to human security and dignity.
In 2011, ICT4Peace called for a code of conduct and for norms of responsible state behaviour and confidence- building measures for an open, secure, and peaceful cyberspace, and encouraged all stakeholders to work together to identify new cyber threats and develop solutions and agreements at national and global levels. In particular, it advocated against the increasing militarisation of cyberspace. ICT4Peace has supported international negotiations at the UN Governmental Group of Experts (UN GGE) and the Open-Ended Working Groups (OEWG I and II) in New York, as well as at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Organization of American States (OAS), and the African Union (AU) with policy recommendations and multiple publications and workshops. In 2014, ICT4Peace launched its capacity-building programmes and in 2020 created The ICT4Peace Academy, in particular for policymakers and diplomats from developing and emerging economies to enable them to develop and implement their national cybersecurity strategies, building computer emergency response teams (CERTS) and meaningfully engage in the UN GGE and in the OEWG I 2019–2021 and OEWG II 2021– 2025, but also in bilateral and regional negotiations.
In 2019, at OEWG I in New York, ICT4Peace issued a call to governments to publicly commit not to attack civilian critical infrastructure and proposed a states cyber peer review mechanism for tate-conducted foreign cyber operations. See also all ICT4Peace inputs to and comments on OEWG I and the ICT4Peace Submission to OEWG II 2021–2025.
ICT4Peace has highlighted emerging concerns and suggested governance solutions in the fields of artificial intelligence (AI), lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS), and peace time threats.
The ICT4Peace Academy offers custom-tailored courses to meet organisations’ needs in learning more about today’s ICT challenges, including cyber diplomacy, cyber peacebuilding, and cyber (human) security. Drawing from an extensive network of expert practitioners, including diplomats, technologists, and civil society experts, each customised course offers the latest in up-to-date information tailored to an organisation’s particular context and presented in a live and interactive format. ICT4Peace offers advisory services to governments, multilateral initiatives, and the international community to support a peaceful cyberspace and provides a global hub and policy space bringing together actors from the technology community, governments, and civil society.
Regretfully, institution and capacity building in the area of ICTs for peaceful purposes and peace and security in cyberspace are not sufficiently recognised as a development issue and/or treated as a development priority by the development community, development partners, or by the millennium development goals (MDGs) or sustainable development goals (SDGs).
It is hoped that by bringing the discussion around the need for increased cybersecurity institution and capacity building (as expressed inter alia by the UN GGE and OSCE) also into the policy orbit of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC), cybersecurity capacity building will be recognised as a development priority by policymakers and more official development assistance (ODA) will flow into this sector in a consistent and coherent fashion. In cooperation with the Estonian and Swiss governments, ICT4Peace has held discussions with the DAC about making cybersecurity capacity-building ODA-eligible.
ICT4Peace also published a thought piece on Digitization: Curse or Blessing for the Bottom Billion, in which the case for more cybersecurity capacity building in the context of development cooperation is made.
In the area of online content policy, ICT4Peace is engaged in activities related to the use of the internet for misinformation, disinformation, defamation, and hate speech. In today’s information society, the dissemination of false information can have devastating consequences, ranging from violent terrorist attacks to interference in elections, to unnecessary illness, such as in the current pandemic. ICT4Peace’s research and publications on misinformation, and hate speech looks at the role of social media and other online platforms/apps in spreading mis/disinformation online.
Regarding the prevention of the use of ICTs for terrorist purposes, ICT4Peace co-launched the Tech against Terrorism Platform with the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (UNCTED). ICT4Peace organised workshops and produced a number of publications in the aftermath of the Christchurch attack and the Sri Lanka bombing with the main aim of raising awareness and supporting the Christchurch Call Summit Process. Since the emergence of COVID-19, ICT4Peace has launched a review of the risks and opportunities of ICTs and social media during a pandemic.
Human rights principles
ICT4Peace has been active in the area of ICTs and human rights, publishing papers, delivering workshops, and supporting other actors to address the human rights implications of digital technologies. It coined the term ‘digital human security’.
Many innovations are designed with the embedded gender, and other biases of their creators, and even the most helpful technologies remain inaccessible to those who would benefit the most from them, including women, girls, and socioeconomically marginalised populations. ICT4Peace is working with gender-focused non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to address gender biases in ICTs.
AI promises to change the very nature of our society, transforming our conflict zones and ushering in a new socio-economic era. While the potential benefits are tremendous, so are the potential risks. This requires careful analysis to inform policy decisions on international and international levels. Since 2017, ICT4Peace has carried out research, published policy papers, and contributed to international discussions on AI, ethical, and political perspectives on emerging digital technologies.
Social media channels
YouTube @ICT4Peace Foundation