WEF Annual Meeting on Cybersecurity 2023

Event description

Event dates: 13–15 November 2023

The World Economic Forum (WEF) will hold its Annual Meeting on Cybersecurity 2023 in Geneva, Switzerland, congregating over 150 leading cybersecurity experts from business, government, international organisations, civil society, and academia. The meeting aims to bring forth a safer and more resilient cyberspace by facilitating collaboration.

According to WEF’s Global Cybersecurity Outlook 2023 released in January, the vast majority of cybersecurity and business leaders anticipated the heightened geopolitical tension to be a catalyst for large-scale, calamitous cyber events in the coming two years. Alongside geopolitical instability is the advancement of transformative technologies like generative AI and a brewing economic crisis.

Against this foreboding backdrop, organisations must address the growing cyber risks with strategic systemic approaches and multistakeholder collaborations. In this vein, the annual meeting provides a venue for leading experts to discuss strategies and foster cooperation.

For more information, please visit the official page.

ICT 4 Peace Foundation

CyberPeace Institute

Acronym: CyberPeace Institute

Established: 2019

Address: Campus Biotech Innovation Park, 15 avenue de Sécheron, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland

Website: https://cyberpeaceinstitute.org/

Stakeholder group: NGOs and associations

The CyberPeace Institute is an independent and neutral non-governmental organisation (NGO) that strives to reduce the frequency, impact, and scale of cyberattacks, to hold actors accountable for the harm they cause, and to assist vulnerable communities.

The institute is a Geneva-based NGO, also working in close collaboration with relevant partners to reduce the harm from cyberattacks on people’s lives worldwide and provide assistance. By analysing cyberattacks, we expose their societal impact and how international laws and norms are being violated, and advance responsible behaviour to enforce cyberpeace.

At the heart of the Institute’s efforts is the recognition that cyberspace is about people. We support providers of essential services to the most vulnerable members of society, ultimately benefitting us all, like NGOs and the healthcare sector. Attacking them can have a devastating impact on beneficiaries and patients, putting their rights and even lives at risk.

To deliver on this mission, we rely on donations and the generosity of individuals, foundations, companies, and other supporters. This support enables us to assist and support vulnerable communities, including NGOs, to enhance their resilience to cyberattacks.

The Institute also provides evidence-based knowledge and fosters awareness of the impact of cyberattacks on people, to give a voice to and empower victims to highlight the harm and impact of cyberattacks. We remind state and non-state actors of the international laws and norms governing responsible behaviour in cyberspace, and advance the rule of law to reduce harm and ensure the respect of the rights of people.

Digital activities

Created in 2019, the Institute assesses the impact of cyberattacks from a human perspective, focusing on the rights of people. We ground our analysis on evidence and the impact on human well-being, telling the story of people, linking it with the technical reality of cyberattacks, and assessing it against the violation of laws. The Institute advocates for an evidence-based, human-centric approach to the analysis of cyberattacks as essential to the process of redress, repair, and/or justice for victims. It works collaboratively in our research, analysis, assistance, mobilisation, and advocacy. We engage with vulnerable communities to understand their needs for cybersecurity support and provide free and trusted cybersecurity assistance to vulnerable communities.

The CyberPeace Institute

  • assists NGOs and other vulnerable communities to prepare for and recover from cyberattacks.
  • investigates cyberattacks targeting vulnerable communities, analysing these attacks to provide alerts and support and for accountability.
  • advocates to advance the rule of law and respect for the rights of people.
  • anticipates threats to people associated with emerging and disruptive technologies.
    • Examples of operational activities
  • Assisting humanitarian and other NGOs with free and trusted cybersecurity support.
  • Analysing cyberattacks and highlighting their impact on people and how they violate the rule of law.
  • Documenting violations of international laws and norms and advocating for strengthened legal protection in cyberspace.
  • Offering expertise and support to states and civil society in relation to responsible behaviour in cyberspace.
  • Foreseeing and navigating future trends and threats in cyberspace.

Digital policy issues

Critical infrastructure

Cyberattacks against critical infrastructure have been on the rise, from attacks against hospitals and vaccine supply chains to attacks on the energy sector. When such disruptions occur, access to basic services is at risk. It is vital that there is an increase in the capacity and ability to improve resilience to cyberthreats in critical sectors, such as healthcare. The CyberPeace Institute urges stakeholders in diplomatic, policy, operational, and technical areas to increase their capacity and resilience to cyberthreats.

The Institute advocates for capacity building aimed at enabling states to identify and protect national critical infrastructure and to cooperatively safeguard its operation. This includes capacity building, implementation of norms of responsible behaviour, and confidence building measures. In strengthening efforts to protect critical infrastructure, the Institute calls for the sharing of lessons learned between countries to assist those with less capacity and fewer capabilities.

NGOs in civilian-critical sectors, for example water, food, healthcare, energy, finance, and information, need support and expertise to help them strengthen their cybersecurity capabilities. While these NGOs provide critical services to communities and bridge areas not covered by public and private actors, they lack the resources to protect themselves from cybersecurity threats.

Examples of the Institute’s work in this regard:

  • Calls to governments to take immediate and decisive action to stop all cyberattacks on hospitals and healthcare and medical research facilities, as well as on medical personnel and international public health organisations.
  • Capacity building is essential for achieving cyber preparedness and resilience across sectors and fields, and activities focus on providing assistance and capacity building to NGOs that might lack technical expertise and resources.
  • Publication of the strategic analysis report Playing with Lives: Cyberattacks on Healthcare are Attacks on People, and launch of the Cyber Incident Tracer (CIT) #Health platform that bridges the current information gap about cyberattacks on healthcare and their impact on people. This is a valuable source of information for evidence-led operational, policy, and legal decision-makers.
  • Analysis and evaluation of cyberattacks and operations targeting critical infrastructure and civilian objects in the armed conflict between Ukraine and the Russian Federation through the publicly accessible Cyber Attacks in Times of Conflict Platform #Ukraine and a two-part video series to offer visual representation of key findings further developed in our quarterly analytical reports.
  • An interactive platform named The CyberPeace Watch to expand the monitoring to other contexts including other situations of armed conflict and to the application of relevant laws and norms. This informs policy and legal processes and developments, the preparedness and protection of critical infrastructure, and cyber capacity building.
  • Participation in the INFINITY project to transform the traditional idea of criminal investigation and analysis. INFINITY has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020. Its concept is based around four core research and technical innovations that together, will provide a revolutionary approach and convert data into actionable intelligence.
  • Participation in the UnderServed project, an EU- funded initiative to address the lack of adequate cybersecurity measures for vulnerable sectors, including humanitarian, development, and peace non-governmental organisations (NGO). The primary objective of the project is to establish a comprehensive platform for reporting and analysing cyber threats. This platform is tailor-made for NGOs vulnerable to cyberattacks, which often lack the resources to effectively mitigate such threats.

Network security

NGOs play a critical role in ensuring the delivery of critical services, such as the provision of healthcare, access to food, micro-loans, information, and the protection of human rights.

Malicious actors are already targeting NGOs in an effort to get ransoms and exfiltrate data. Often these NGOs do not have the budget, know-how, or time to effectively secure their infrastructures and develop a robust incident response to manage and overcome sophisticated attacks.

With this in mind, the Institute launched its CyberPeace Builders programme in 2021, a unique network of corporate volunteers providing free pre- and post-incident assistance to NGOs supporting vulnerable populations.

This initiative brings support to NGOs in critical sectors at a level that is unequalled in terms of staff, tools, and capabilities. It assists NGOs with cybersecurity whether they work locally or globally, and supports them in crisis-affected areas across the globe.

Capacity development

The Institute believes that meaningful change can occur when a diversity of perspectives, sectors, and industries work together. To address the complex challenges related to ensuring cyberpeace, it works with a wide range of actors at the global level including governments, the private sector, civil society, academia, philanthropies, policymaking institutions, and other organisations. The Institute contributes by providing evidence-led knowledge, emphasising the need to integrate a genuine human-centric approach in both technical and policy-related projects and processes, and by highlighting the civil society perspective to support and amplify existing initiatives.

Training

The CyberPeace Institute is providing comprehensive training for NGOs Boards and Staff, Foundations and Volunteers designed to empower organisations with vital tools for safeguarding their missions.

We recently launched a Cyber School, in partnership with Microsoft, to create a unique, free offer to
participate in an 8-week virtual course for everyone who is interested in taking their first step into a new career path.

Interdisciplinary approaches

To contribute to closing the accountability gap in cyberspace, the Institute seeks to advance the role of international law and norms.

It reminds state and non-state actors of the international law and norms governing responsible behaviour in cyberspace, and contributes to advancing the rule of law to reduce harm and ensure the respect of the rights of people.

Contribution to UN processes

  • In 2021–2022, the Institute contributed to and commented on various UN-led processes (notably the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts on Advancing responsible state behaviour in cyberspace in the context of international security (UN GGE) and the Working Group (WG) on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the rights of peoples to self-determination).
  • Since its inception, the Institute has closely followed the work of the UN Open-Ended Working Group (UN OEWG) on developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security, advocating recognition of the healthcare sector as a critical infrastructure and raising concerns about the lack of commitment towards an actionable and genuine human-centric approach.
  • In the Open-Ended Working Group on security of and in the use of information and communications technologies 2021–2025 (OEWG II), the Institute set out three key action areas and related recommendations, and is contributing its expertise in relation to the protection of humanitarian and development organisations from cyberattacks.
  • – The Institute issued a Statement at the Ad Hoc Committee to Elaborate a Comprehensive International Convention on Countering the Use of Information and Communications Technologies for Criminal Purposes (Cybercrime Convention
  • Moreover, the Institute sought to advance the Cyber Programme of Action (PoA) by offering recommendations concerning the range, organisation, and approaches for stakeholder participation.
  • Also, the Institute welcomed the call for civil society organisations to contribute to the Global Digital Compact and provided a set of recommendations.

Participation in international initiatives: The Paris Call Working Groups

The Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace is a multistakeholder initiative launched by the French government at the Paris Peace Forum in November 2018. The Call itself sets out nine principles promoting and ensuring the security of cyberspace and the safer use of information and communications technology (ICT).

At the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, in May 2022, the CyberPeace Institute joined Access Now, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), and Consumers International to call on decision-makers to take action and initiate a moratorium limiting the sale, transfer, and use of abusive spyware until people’s rights are safeguarded under international human rights law.

This is in addition to a call made in 2021, in which the Institute joined more than 100 civil society organisations calling for a global moratorium on the sale and transfer of surveillance technology until rigorous human rights safeguards are adopted to regulate such practices and guarantee that governments and non-state actors don’t abuse these capabilities.

EU Processes

At the Institute, we conduct an evaluation of best practices in implementing EU regulations, focusing on
their evolution and development to ensure effective execution. Simultaneously, we analyse EU mechanisms like the EU Cyber Diplomacy Toolbox, aimed at countering malicious cyber activities and bolstering resilience, while providing targeted observations and recommendations.

Digital technology plays an important role in conflict mediation and global peacebuilding. It can extend inclusion, allowing more women or people from marginalised groups to take part in or follow a mediation process. It can make mediation faster and more efficient and can allow mediators to draw on resources from around the world.

However, digital technology brings risks, too. It can increase polarisation, for example, and allow disinformation to spread to more people, more quickly. It can increase vulnerability to malicious actors, spying, and data breaches. These risks can undermine trust in the process.

Mediators work in low-trust, volatile contexts and don’t always have the knowledge to assess the risks posed by digital technology. A new online platform helps to raise awareness of those risks, as well as offering training on how to deal with them. The Digital Risk Management E-Learning Platform for Mediators was created in 2021 by the CyberPeace Institute, CMI – Martti Ahtisaari Peace Foundation, and the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (UNDPPA) Mediation Support Unit.

As part of the integration and engagement with the stakeholder ecosystem in Geneva, the Institute is a member of the Geneva Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services (CCIG). Various academic collaborations are ongoing through participation in conferences, workshops, and lectures,
namely with the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne Centre for digital trust EPFL (C4DT), the University of Geneva (UNIGE), and the Graduate Institute (IHEID). In 2020, the Institute formed a strategic partnership with the SwissTrust Valley for Digital Transformation and Cybersecurity.

The Institute and its staff have received several awards for innovative and continuous efforts promoting cyberpeace including the 2020 Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP), second prize for Innovation in Global Security, and the Prix de l’Economie in 2021 from CCIG.

Social media channels

The Institute maintains a website providing alerts, blogs, articles, and publications on key issues related to its mission for cyberpeace, and shares video materials and discussion recordings on YouTube channel.

The latest news and developments are shared via:

Facebook @CyberpeaceInstitute

Instagram @cyberpeaceinst

LinkedIn @cyberpeace-institute

X @CyberpeaceInst

Sign up for the monthly newsletter to receive updates about what’s happening at the Institute, as well as news about cyberpeace.

United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research

Acronym: UNIDIR

Established: 1980

Address: Palais des Nations, 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Website: https://www.unidir.org/

Stakeholder group: International and regional organisations

Founded in 1980, UNIDIR is a voluntarily funded, autonomous institute within the United Nations. One of the few policy institutes worldwide focusing on disarmament, UNIDIR generates knowledge and promotes dialogue and action on disarmament and security. Based in Geneva, UNIDIR assists the international community to develop the practical, innovative ideas needed to find solutions to critical security problems.

Digital activities

The research areas of UNIDIR’s SecTec focus on cybersecurity, such as threats and vulnerabilities related to information and communications technologies (ICTs), and the use of new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) applications in warfare. SecTec has supported the UN processes on ICTs Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) and the Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) and continues to support the OEWG on security of and in the use of ICTs (2021–2025). It focuses on research and awareness raising on this topic with a broad range of stakeholders and maps the cybersecurity policy landscape.

Digital policy issues

Cybersecurity

SecTec builds knowledge and raises awareness of the security implications of new and emerging technologies. Cyber stability is one area of focus for UNIDIR, the work of which supports the implementation of specific norms and recommendations previously agreed by member states. It also explores options to strengthen cyber stability and crisis management mechanisms. UNIDIR provides technical and expert advice to the chairpersons of the UN GGE and OEWG on norms, international law, confidence-building measures, capacity  building,  cooperation, and institutional dialogue. The annual Cyber Stability Conference brings various stakeholders together to promote a secure and stable cyberspace and in particular the role of the UN processes such as the OEWG on Security of and in the Use of Information and Communications Technologies (2021–2025).

Launched in 2019, the Cyber Policy Portal is an interactive map of the global cyber policy landscape. It provides profiles of the cyber policies of all 193 UN member states, in addition to various intergovernmental organizations and multi-stakeholder instruments and other initiatives. This confidence-building tool supports informed participation by relevant stakeholders in all policy processes and promotes trust, transparency, and cooperation in cyberspace. The updated version of the portal was launched in May 2022, providing several new features, such as full text search, and is available in all UN official languages.

Accessible from the portal, the National Survey of Implementation of United Nations Recommendations of Responsible Use of ICTs by States in the Context of International Security collates national take-up of the recommendations from the 2015 GGE report, with a view to assisting assessment of their further development and implementation. The survey allows UN member states to conduct regular self-assessments of national implementation of the recommendations.

It can also support UN member states in responding to an invitation from the UN General Assembly (UNGA) to continue to inform the Secretary-General of their views and assessments on the issue of developments in the field of ICTs in the context of international security.

It supports transparency, information sharing, and confidence building by giving UN member states the possibility of making the results of the survey publicly available on their national profiles on UNIDIR’s Cyber Policy Portal.

The Cyber Policy Portal Database provides direct access to documents and references through the profiles of all 193 UN member states on the Cyber Policy Portal. The database allows searching across several categories, including state, type of document, topic, issuing body, and more.

Publication

Events

Artificial intelligence

AI and the weaponization of increasingly autonomous technologies is one of UNIDIR’s current research areas. It aims to raise awareness and build capacities of various stakeholders, including member states, technical communities, academia, and the private sector. Research on AI covers a broad range of topics from human decision-making, autonomous vehicles, and swarm technologies.

UNIDIR SecTec recently launched the Artificial Intelligence Policy Portal. This tool gathers available information at the national, regional, and international levels on policies, processes, and structures that are relevant to the development and use of AI for military or security purposes. The Portal has been developed to support transparency, information sharing, and confidence building in the field of AI

Publications

Events

Emerging technologies

UNIDIR’s research equally focuses on security dimensions of innovations in science and technology. In synergy with the Secretary-General’s Agenda for Disarmament and recent UNGA resolutions on the role of science and technology in the context of international security, UNIDIR proactively identifies and examines emerging and over-the-horizon innovations. It analyses potential implications for international security and facilitates dialogue among relevant stakeholders to encourage cross-sector cooperation.

Publications

Events

Digital tools

  • Directed Energy Weapons: The ‘new’ Option for Militaries
  • 2021 Innovations Dialogue: Deepfakes, Trust and International Security
  • Drones  and Counter-Drone Technology: An Escalating Dynamic
  • New Technological Opportunities to Bolster Treaty Compliance
  • Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies

    Acronym: Geneva Graduate Institute

    Established: 1927

    Address: Case postale 1672, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland

    Website: https://www.graduateinstitute.ch

    The Geneva Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (Geneva Graduate Institute) is an institution of research and higher education at the postgraduate level dedicated to the study of world affairs, with a particular emphasis on the cross-cutting fields of international relations and development issues.

    Through its core activities, the Institute promotes international cooperation and contributes to the progress of developing societies. More broadly, it endeavours to develop creative thinking on the major challenges of our time, foster global responsibility, and advance respect for diversity.

    By intensely engaging with international organisations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), governments, and multinational companies, the Institute participates in global discussions and prepares future policymakers to lead tomorrow’s world.

    In 2022, the Institute launched a new Competence Hub on digital technologies. The Tech Hub brings together a diversity of internal and external expertise to explore technologies from a human-centred and human-biotype-centred perspective. The focus will be the exploration of current and future technological innovations from a social science perspective, with an interest in the socio-political, governance, and geopolitical consequences of the current technological revolution. It will progressively structure different kinds of activities as well as welcome and foster research projects.

    This transdisciplinary and horizontal initiative enables the Institute to forge and express its own unique voice on the digital turn and its consequences. It has indeed a particular role to play in the exploration of all those questions that need a transdisciplinary social science and humanities perspective and are by nature profoundly inter-transnational. The reality is that the Institute is already producing research and knowledge on those questions and diffusing them through teaching and events.

    Digital activities

    As part of its main strategy, the Institute seeks to develop digitally driven innovation in teaching and research, as well as information technology (IT) services. At the same time, as a research institution focusing on global challenges and their impacts, the digital turn has become one of its fundamental and policy-oriented research areas.

    In terms of research, a growing number of researchers and PhD candidates analyse the impact of digitalisation on international relations and development issues. A few examples of research topics are cybersecurity, hybrid threats and warfare, surveillance technologies, internet governance, digital diplomacy, digital health, digital rights, digital trust, digital economy, the future of work, blockchain and cryptocurrencies, AI and humanitarian law, and AI and peace negotiations among others. The Institute has also developed expertise in using digital technologies as new research methods, including computational social scientific methods and big data analytics.

    In terms of teaching, its Master, PhD, and executive education courses are increasingly focused on the effects of digitalisation on society and the economy, and more generally the global system. Some examples of courses are Digital Approaches to Conflict Prevention, Digital Innovation in Nature Conservation, Internet, Technology and International Law, Introduction to Digital Social Science Research, Technology, Society and Decision- making, The Politics of Digital Design, AI and Politics, Internet Governance and Economics, Technology and Development, and Digital Diplomacy and Power Relations on Cyberspace. Digital skills workshops are also organised for students to provide them with basic digital competence for their future professional or academic life, including big data analysis, introduction to programming with R and Python, and data analysis in various contexts.

    The Executive Education Course, upskill series, titled Artificial Intelligence: A Strategic Asset for Diplomacy and Organisations, caters to diplomats and professionals in international missions and organisations. Recognising the increasing reliance on AI and digital technologies in these settings, the two-day course delves into the transformative impact of these tools on decision-making, negotiation, administrative tasks, and future scenario prediction. Through concrete applications and case studies, participants explore the promises and pitfalls of AI, including its geopolitical implications. The second day is dedicated to hands-on practice, allowing participants to use and discuss innovative digital tools for enhancing their professional activities.

    Over the years, the Institute has developed a performing IT infrastructure with secured data storage space and digital platforms (e.g. Campus, Moodle, TurntIn, Zoom, MyHR, Salesforces, Converis) to provide seamless services as well as dematerialised/paperless processes (e.g. student applications, course registration) for students, staff, and professors.

    The Institute has developed digital tools (e.g. app for students, responsive website) and used digital services (e.g. social media, Facebook, Google ads) for many years in its student recruitment and communication campaigns.

    Digital tools are also part of the pedagogical methods to improve learning. Flipped classrooms, MOOCs, SPOCs, and podcasts, to name a few, are used by professors in Master’s and PhD programmes, as well as in executive education. The Institute also supports professors in developing pedagogical skills and in using digital tools. Workshops are offered to all faculty members at the end of the summer to prepare them for hybrid teaching and the use of new technological tools in the classroom.

    The Institute also organises workshops, seminars, film screenings, and other events on the digital turn, ranging from the digital divide and the governance and regulatory aspects of data to cybersecurity.

    Digital policy issues

    Some of the Institute’s prominent research initiatives are listed under respective digital policy issues sections.

    Artificial intelligence

    Conflict and peacebuilding

    The faculty carries out a number of digital policy-related research projects, some of which focus on AI in particular. For example, the project titled Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems (LAWS) and War Crimes: Who is to Bear Responsibility? aims to clarify whether and to what extent the requirements for ascribing criminal responsibility for the commission of an act – and in particular, the key concepts of culpability theories – can be applied to the use of LAWS in combat operations. This analysis will serve to identify lacunae and inconsistencies in the current legal framework in the face of the advent of military robotics.

    This project explores how the increasing digitalisation of peace processes affects international peace building efforts that take place in a global environment characterised by friction between liberal and authoritarian approaches. To make sense of these dynamics, the project draws on the concept of apomediation, to suggest that solutions to conflict are no longer simply supplied by human agents, but through a complex entanglement of human-machine networks.

    The Intrepid Project aims to develop a general understanding of how policy announcements by state agencies are interpreted by journalists in ways that send signals, indicate intent, and otherwise provoke economic and political reactions. Machine learning (ML) techniques and the semantic and syntactic properties of announcement texts are then used to develop models of the announcement interpretation process.

    Global Health

    A number of projects carried out by the Institute’s members address the relationship between digital technologies and health. For instance, the Modelling Early Risk Indicators to Anticipate Malnutrition (MERIAM) project uses computer models to test and scale up cost effective means to improve the prediction and monitoring of undernutrition in difficult contexts.

    The Institute hosted the new Digital Health and AI Research Collaborative (I-DAIR) (new HealthAI) directed by former Ambassador of India and Visiting Lecturer at the Institute Amandeep Gill. I-DAIR aims to create a platform to promote responsible and inclusive AI research and digital technology development for health. This platform is supported by the Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator (GESDA).

    The project Governing Health Futures 2030: Growing up in a Digital World, hosted at the Global Health Centre (GHC), explores how to ensure that digital development helps improve the health and well-being of all, and especially among children and young people. It focuses on examining integrative policies for digital health, AI, and universal health coverage to support the attainment of the third sustainable development goal (SDG).

    Democracy

    Questions about the potential impact of the internet are now routinely raised in relation to political events and elections in most places. The project on the Digital Infrastructuring of Democracy asks how the digital infrastructuring of democracy unfolds through regulatory and political processes, with a heuristic focus on both its transnational dimension and its specific reverberations in democracies of the Global South. The project concentrates on one thematic controversy related to each aspect of infrastructure: the accountability of algorithms for code, data protection for content, and encryption for circulation.

    Taking stock of the centrality of AI in society and in the citizen-government relation, this project hosted at the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy seeks to engage with youth in Switzerland to explore the future role of AI in democracy through storytelling and narrative foresight. It will give a voice to the citizens of tomorrow and collaborate with art schools to design participatory AI art.

    Future of work

    Focusing on the Global South, the project African Futures: Digital Labor and Blockchain Technology strengthened empirical knowledge on changing trends in employment in the region by way of a two-pronged approach to the increasingly interconnected global division of labour: (1) App-based work mediated by online service platforms and (2) the use of blockchain technology in mining sites for ethical sourcing, traceability, and proof of origin.

    The emergence of AI and digitally mediated work represents a fundamental challenge for most developing economies. Coupled with jobless economic growth, rising human productivity, and the exponential increase of the available labour pool, few jobs can be said to be safe from automated labour. This project examines the impact of digital work and automation in the Global South, from blockchain technology to ride-sharing apps, to inform debates on automation, computerisation and non-standard forms of work.

    Inclusive finance

    Projects carried out by the Institute’s members also address the role of digital technologies in enhancing financial inclusion. The project Effects of Digital Economy on Banking and Finance studies digital innovations and how fintech extends financial services to firms and households and improves credit allocation using loan-account level data comparing fintech and traditional banking.

    Digital tools

    • Digital collections that allow free access to historical documents, texts, and photographs on international relations from the sixteenth to the twentieth century.
    • Two free online courses (MOOCs) on globalisation and global governance.
    • Podcasts showcasing professors’ and guests’ expertise (What matters today, In conversation with, Parlons en).
    • Podcasts are also integrated into the curricula of several international histories and interdisciplinary Master’s courses to encourage students to use social network platforms to popularise their findings.

    Future of meetings

    Events, sessions, and seminars are held online (usually on Zoom), for example, information sessions for admitted and prospective students take place online.

    Social media channels

    Facebook @graduateinstitute

    Instagram @graduateinstitute

    LinkedIn @geneva graduate institute

    X @GVAGrad

    YouTube @Geneva Graduate Institute

    Geneva Internet Platform

    Acronym: GIP

    Established: 2014

    Address: 7bis, Avenue de la Paix, CH-1202 Geneva

    Website: https://www.giplatform.org/

    Stakeholder group: NGOs and associations

    The Geneva Internet Plaform (GIP) is a Swiss initiative operated by DiploFoundation that strives to engage digital actors, foster digital governance, and monitor digital policies.

    It aims to provide a neutral and inclusive space for digital policy debates, strengthen the participation of small and developing countries in Geneva-based digital policy processes, support activities of Geneva-based Internet governance (IG) and ICT institutions and initiatives, facilitate research for an evidence-based, multidisciplinary digital policy, bridge various policy silos, and provide tools and methods for in situ and online engagement that could be used by other policy spaces in International Geneva and worldwide. The GIP’s activities are implemented based on three pillars: a physical platform in Geneva, an online platform and observatory, and a dialogue lab.

    DiploFoundation

    Acronym: Diplo

    Established: 2002

    Address: 7bis, Avenue de la Paix CH-1202 Geneva, Switzerland

    Website: https://www.diplomacy.edu

    Stakeholder group: Academia & think tanks

    DiploFoundation is a leading global capacity development organisation in the field of Internet governance.

    Diplo was established by the governments of Switzerland and Malta with the goal of providing low cost, effective courses and training programmes in contemporary diplomacy and digital affairs, in particular for developing countries. Its main thematic focuses are on Internet governance (IG), e-diplomacy, e-participation, and cybersecurity.

    Diplo’s flagship publication ‘An Introduction to Internet governance’ is among the most widely used texts on IG, translated into all the UN languages and several more. Its online and in situ IG courses and training programmes have gathered more than 1500 alumni from 163 countries. Diplo also hosts the Geneva Internet Platform (GIP).

    Diplo also provides customised courses and training both online and in situ.

    International Committee of the Red Cross

    Acronym: ICRC

    Established: 1863

    Address: 19 Avenue de la paix, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland

    Website: https://www.icrc.org

    Stakeholder group: International and regional organisations

    Established in 1863, the ICRC is an independent international humanitarian organisation headquartered in Geneva. It defends and promotes the respect of international humanitarian law (IHL) and is dedicated to protecting the lives and dignity of victims of war and to providing assistance. Along these lines, it cooperates with governments, the private sector, and other entities affected by international and internal armed conflict and violence.

    Together with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and 192 individual national societies, the ICRC makes up the so-called International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

    Digital activities

    Digitalisation is increasingly present in the context of armed conflict and violence. On one hand, affected populations are in demand for digital tools, which humanitarian organisations need to provide in a responsible manner. On the other hand, states use cyber operations as part of warfare with humans affected by the consequences of such operations and other digital risks. To this end, humanitarian organisations also use digital tools to improve their operations. The ICRC addresses the implications of technology, which are multifold and range from data protection for humanitarian actions to the application of IHL to cyber operations in armed conflict. We host expert and intergovernmental discussions and have developed a number of (digital) tools to help improve awareness and understanding of IHL and relevant standards. The ICRC cooperates with other organisations on digital policy issues.

    Digital policy issues

    Artificial intelligence

    The ICRC has explored the impact of AI tools in armed conflict, in particular their use by armed actors. In a document titled Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in Armed Conflict: A Human-Centred Approach (2019, revised 2021), we argue: ‘Any new technology of warfare must be used, and must be capable of being used, in compliance with existing rules of international humanitarian law.’ The document touches on the use of AI and machine learning (ML) technologies capable of controlling physical military hardware. It argues that from a humanitarian perspective, AWS are of particular concern given that humans may not be able to control such weapons or the resulting use of force, and AI-controlled AWS would exacerbate these risks. The ICRC has urged states to adopt new international rules on AWS. The position paper also emphasises the potential for AI to exacerbate the risks to civilians and civilian infrastructure posed by cyber and information operations, as well as changing the nature of military decision-making in armed conflict. The ICRC calls for a human-centred approach to the application of AI in armed conflict that preserves human judgement and jointly with the United Nations Secretary-General, ICRC’s president is calling for establishing new prohibitions and restrictions on AWS. The question has been further explored in other reports, such as Autonomy, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics: Technical Aspects of Human Control (2019). 

    Cyber operations during armed conflict

    The use of cyber operations during armed conflict is a reality today and is likely to increase in future. Through bilateral confidential dialogue, expert discussions, participation in intergovernmental processes, and constant monitoring and analysis, the ICRC is raising awareness of the potential human cost of cyber operations and the application of IHL to cyber operations during armed conflict. Our efforts on this matter date back over two decades. Ever since, the ICRC has held the view that IHL limits cyber operations during armed conflict just as it limits the use of any other weapon, means and methods of warfare in an armed conflict, whether new or old.

    Over the years, the ICRC has been actively involved in global policy discussions on cyber-related issues, including those held within the UN (various Groups of Governmental Experts (GGEs) and the Open-Ended Working Groups (OEWGs)). In addition, we convene regional consultations among government experts on how IHL applies to cyber operations, and global expert meetings, such as the potential human cost of cyber operations and avoiding civilian harm from military cyber operations during armed conflicts. Our legal views on how IHL applies to cyber operations during armed conflict are found in a 2019 position paper that was sent to all UN member states in the context of the different UN-mandated processes on information and communications technology (ICT) security. The ICRC explores innovative solutions, such as a digital emblem, to protect medical and humanitarian missions in cyberspace. 

    Recently we have focused on non-state actors such as civilians and technological companies getting more and more involved in cyber operations. We first issued three documents. The first focuses on the growing trend of civilians at large getting involved in digital operations and the related risks. The second focuses on when might digital tech companies become targetable in war. And last and more specifically on hacking, we published a paper called 8 Rules for “Civilian Hackers” During War, and 4 Obligations for States to Restrain Them

    ‘Protection’ in the digital agae The ICRC deals with privacy and data protection within its mandate and context of IHL. In this Atlas, following the Digital Watch Observatory taxonomy, privacy and data protection are part of the human rights basket.

    Without undermining the positive impact technology can bring in conflict, including enhancing access to life-saving information and potentially minimising collateral damage, protection work must consider the risks in the digital age. In other words, it must encompass the protection of the rights of people when their lives intersect with the digital sphere. This question remains under-regarded and a blog post tries to shed light on this grey area

    The ICRC puts a special emphasis on the impact of misinformation and disinformation as they can increase people’s exposure to risk and vulnerabilities. For example, if displaced people in need of humanitarian assistance are given intentionally misleading information about life-saving services and resources, they can be misdirected away from help and towards harm.

    Hate speech, meanwhile, contributes directly or indirectly to endangering civilian populations’ safety or dignity. For example, when online hate speech calls for violence against a minority group, it can contribute to psychological and social harm through harassment, defamation, and intimidation. 

    These issues have been tackled in a document we published in 2021 called Harmful Information.

    Misinformation and disinformation can also impact humanitarian organisations’ ability to operate in certain areas, potentially leaving the needs of people affected by armed conflict or other violence unmet. When false and manipulated information spreads, it can erode trust within communities and damage the reputation of humanitarian operations.

    For the ICRC, whose work is founded on trust, the spread of disinformation, especially where tensions are high, could quickly lead to humanitarian personnel being unable to leave their offices, distribute live-saving assistance, visit detainees, or bring news to people who have lost contact with a family member.

    Ultimately, it is important also to note that information operations have limits under IHL!

    Outer space

    Space systems have been employed for military purposes since the dawn of the space era. As the role of these systems in military operations during armed conflicts increases, so too does the likelihood of their being targeted, with a significant risk of harm to civilians and civilian objects on Earth and in space. This is because technology enabled by space systems permeates most aspects of civilian life, making the potential consequences of attacks on space systems a matter of humanitarian concern. Find out more in this blog called War, Law and Outer Space: Pathways to Reduce the Human Cost of Military Space Operations.

    Privacy and data protection

    The ICRC plays an active role in regard to privacy and data protection in the context of humanitarian action. It has a data protection framework compliant with international data protection standards that aims to protect individuals from a humanitarian standpoint. The framework consists of ICRC rules on personal data protection, which were revised in 2020 in response to the rapid development of digital technologies, while supervisory and control mechanisms are overseen by an independent data protection commission and a data protection officer.  In 2019, the ICRC spearheaded the adoption of a resolution on Restoring Family Links While Respecting Privacy, Including as it Relates to Personal Data Protection at the International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent. In 2022, we pushed for the adoption of a resolution on Safeguarding Humanitarian Data at the Council of Delegates of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

    Despite the wide range of data sources employed and dealt with by the ICRC, specific attention is dedicated to biometric data, which is often used in forensics and the restoration of family links. To manage this highly sensitive information and to ensure the responsible deployment of new technologies (including new biometric identification techniques), the ICRC has adopted a Biometrics Policy, which sets out the roles and responsibilities of the ICRC and defines the legitimate bases and specified purposes for the processing of biometric data. 

    Data protection is also addressed by the ICRC Handbook on Data Protection in Humanitarian Action. The Handbook provides suggestions as to how current data protection principles apply to humanitarian organisations and builds on existing regulations, working procedures, and practices. The second edition specifically provides guidance on the technical aspects of data protection by design and by default and covers technological security measures. In addition, through dedicated chapters, it addresses the potential and risks of digital technology such as blockchain, AI, digital identity, and connectivity for data protection in humanitarian action.

    The ICRC has argued in favour of the digitalisation of the Geneva Conventions and on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of these very treaties and additional protocols, released an IHL digital app. The app provides access to over 75 treaties including the Geneva Conventions, and allows users to read through the content and familiarise themselves with the text. The ICRC has a number of databases on IHL, including its customary IHL database and the ICRC national implementation database.  

    Digital tools

    Research and development

    In 2022, the ICRC opened a Delegation for Cyberspace in Luxembourg, which serves as a safe and secure space to do due diligence research and develop and test solutions and ideas to prepare the ground for the support, protection, and deployment of digital services to affected people on a global scale. It will also further explore what it means to be a digital stakeholder in a manner compatible with its mandate; operational modalities; and the principles of neutrality, independence, and impartiality.

    Resources

    The ICRC’s Law and Policy blog provides a large number of short pieces on cyber operations, featuring tech expert, legal, and policy perspectives. 

    Online learning is also used by the ICRC to promote the implementation of IHL. In 2019, we launched an e-learning course entitled Introduction to International Humanitarian Law aimed at non-legal practitioners, policymakers, and other professionals who are interested in the basics of IHL. Other online courses are available through the ICRC training centre as well as e-briefings which are available in the e-briefing library

    The ICRC maintains an online training centre and an app with all ICRC publications in English and French. 

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