[Webinar] Human-centered AI for dangerous mental health behaviors online

Event recording

Event description

Event date: 6 July 2022, 17:00–18:30 CEST

This AI for Good Discovery event will discuss the building of human- and community-centred AI tools to handle dangerous mental health behaviours online such as suicide crisis, self-injury, and disordered eating behaviours. Dr Stevie Chancellor will expound on the technicalities of such tools and the necessary lab settings.

For more information, and to register, please visit the official page.

Geneva Science-Policy Interface

Acronym: GSPI

Established: 2018

Address: Uni Mail, Bd du Pont-d’Arve 28, 1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland

Website: https://gspi.ch/

Stakeholder group: Academia & think tanks

The GSPI is a neutral and independent platform that aims to foster engagement between the research community and Geneva-based international policy actors around some of the most pressing global challenges (including global health, climate change, and migration). 

It works to foster science-policy ecosystems by brokering collaborations and enhancing capacities across the interface between the science, policy, and implementation communities. This includes an annual call for projects, the Impact Collaboration Programme (ICP), the production of policy briefs, as well as learning opportunities and resources to advance the professionalisation and recognition of the science-policy field of practice in Geneva and beyond.

The GSPI is based at the University of Geneva. It receives support from the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and the backing of leading research institutions in Switzerland and Europe.

Digital activities

As part of its activities at the interplay between science, policy, and implementation actors, the GSPI tackles a range of digital issues. With data being a centrepiece of evidence-based policies, many of the GSPI’s activities touch on digitalisation and the use of digital tools in domains such as health, migration, development, and the environment.

Digital policy issues

Artificial intelligence

The project MapMaker, a collaboration between the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich (ETH Zurich) has enabled the development of an online visualisation tool to inform data-driven decision-making on marine biodiversity conservation at the international level.

Digital standards

Together with the Geneva Health Forum (GHF), the GSPI has established a working group including key humanitarian actors to harness knowledge and best practices around the digitisation of clinical guidelines for management of childhood illness in primary care in low and middle-income countries. In line with the efforts of the WHO, and the principles of donor alignment for digital health, the working group has developed recommendations on how digitalisation can improve the management of childhood illness. In September 2021, the results of this work were shared with experts and the public, providing a platform for discussions on the lessons learned and future trends in the field.

Emerging technologies

In 2018, the GSPI organised policy discussions on the use of drones as part of humanitarian action. The conversation centred on the practical use of drones to deliver humanitarian aid and what can be done by stakeholders such as policymakers, the private sector, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to maximise the opportunities and reduce the risks of such technologies.

At the 2019 Digital Day, together with the University of Geneva, the GSPI organised a discussion exploring what experience and know-how Geneva-based organisations could share to empower and protect users in the context of the digital revolution.

With a number of other partners, the GSPI co-organised a discussion at the 2019 WSIS Forum on aerial data produced by drones and satellites in the context of aid and development. The session explored the interplay between international organisations, NGOs, and scientists and how they can work together to help monitor refugee settlements, provide emergency response in case of natural disasters, and scale agriculture programmes.

Data governance

The project REDEHOPE of the University of Geneva and the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) has led to the development of an online diagnostic tool to help countries identify and visualise issues in their housing data ecology, and access appropriate datasets to formulate more robust, evidence-based housing policies at the country level.

Sustainable development

In 2020–2021, the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Convention (BRS) secretariat benefitted from the support of ETH Zurich to develop an online platform to identify and signal the need for evidence and information to the scientific community in the field of chemical and waste management.

A project from ICP 2021 addressed the hurdles facing policy actors in accessing and making sense of data in migration research. The project partners (the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Graduate Institute) developed an interactive digital toolkit for policy officials to support them in leveraging migration research for evidence-based policymaking. The toolkit, based on IOM’s flagship publication, the World Migration Report, was launched in June 2022.

ICP 2021 brought support to the development of interactive analytical tools providing information about all UN sanctions to inform both humanitarian practitioners and sanction policy actors on practical ways to safeguard principled humanitarian action in areas under a sanction regime. This project is a collaboration between the Graduate Institute and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).

ICP 2022 selected a collaboration between ETH Zurich and IOM that seeks to bring more effective policy expertise in the management of migration to address migrants’ needs and increase social cohesion between migrant and local communities. The collaboration will develop a toolbox to be used by IOM and its partners to facilitate the use of the Immigration Policy Lab (IPL) Integration Index, a survey tool for governments, nonprofits, and researchers to measure the integration of immigrants around the world.

Human rights principles

Also in the framework of its ICP, the GSPI has supported a collaboration between the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights and OHCHR’s B-Tech project. Some of the new fast-evolving technologies, such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), facial recognition technologies, and the internet of things (IoT), can have profoundly disrupting effects on sociopolitical systems and pose significant human rights challenges. This initiative provides authoritative guidance and resources for implementing the UNGPs in the technology space and placing international human rights law (IHRL) at the centre of regulatory and policy frameworks. Aimed at policymakers, the technology sector, and all those working on the regulation of AI, the policy research carried out in this project (see resulting Working Paper, 2021) brings fresh insights into how current initiatives on the regulation of AI technologies could incorporate the protection and respect for human rights. Published by the Geneva Academy, the paper also calls on states to adopt a ‘smart mix’ of mandatory and voluntary measures to support their implementation and how this applies to the AI sector. This GSPI-supported science-policy process will formally feed the development of a ‘UN Guiding Principles check’ tool (working title), which will provide states with a roadmap to assess their regulatory efforts across different policy domains relevant to technology.

Digital tools

Social media channels

LinkedIn @genevaspi

Twitter @GenevaSPI

World Intellectual Property Organization

Acronym: WIPO

Established: 1967

Address: Chemin des Colombettes 34, 1211 Geneva 20, Switzerland

Website: https://www.wipo.int/

Stakeholder group: International and regional organisations

WIPO is a UN agency functioning as the global forum for intellectual property (IP) related services (patents, copyright, trademarks, and designs), policy, information, and cooperation. The organisation was established in 1967. It currently has 193 member states and over 200 observers representing non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and intergovernmental organisations. WIPO leads the development of a balanced and effective global IP ecosystem to promote innovation and creativity for a better and more sustainable future.

Digital activities

WIPO runs several online registration systems for patents and trademarks. There are also numerous databases available for use by stakeholders on the same subjects.

Digital policy issues

Frontier technologies including artificial intelligence

WIPO pays particular attention to the interplay between frontier technologies including artificial intelligence (AI) and IP.

The WIPO Conversation on IP and Frontier Technologies provides an open, inclusive forum to engage with and facilitate discussion and knowledge-building among the widest possible set of stakeholders. It leads the global discourse on the impact of frontier technologies on IP, in this fast-moving, complex space. Each year, WIPO usually holds two sessions of the Conversation covering both the uses and applications of frontier technologies to assist IP Offices and IP owners as well as more conceptual policy-based discussions to ensure that the IP systems continue to foster innovation. The five sessions of the WIPO Conversation to date have focused on AI, data, and frontier technologies in IP administration.

WIPO has prepared a paper exploring the (potential) impact of AI on IP policies in areas such as copyright and related rights, patents, trademarks, designs, and overall IP administration. It also maintains an AI and IP strategy clearing house, which collates government instruments (strategies, regulations, etc.) that are relevant to AI, data, and IP.

WIPO is also developing and deploying AI solutions in the context of various activities; relevant examples are WIPO Translate and the WIPO Brand Image Search, which use AI for automated translation and image recognition. The WIPO Index of AI Initiatives in IP Offices seeks to foster information sharing and collaboration between national IP Offices working on similar projects.

Alternative dispute resolution and critical internet resources

WIPO’sactivitiesregarding the Domain Name System(DNS) revolve around the protection of trademarks and related rights in the context of domain names. It developed the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP) with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Under this policy, WIPO’s Arbitration and Mediation Center provides dispute resolution services for second-level domain name registrations under generic top-level domains (gTLDs) to which the UDPR applies. The Center also administers disputes under specific policies adopted by some gTLD registries (e.g. .aero, .asia, .travel). In addition, it offers domain name dispute resolution services for over 70 country code top-level domains (ccTLDs). WIPO has developed a ccTLD Program to provide advice to many ccTLD registries on the establishment of dispute resolution procedures. It also contributes to the work carried out within the framework of ICANN in regard to the strengthening of existing trademark rights protection mechanisms or the development of new such mechanisms.

Intellectual property rights

Trademarks

WIPO has long been involved in issues related to the protection of trademarks in the context of the DNS. The first phase of the WIPO Internet Domain Name Process, carried out in 1991, explored trademark abuse in second-level domain names, and led to the adoption, by ICANN, of the UDRP. WIPO has also contributed to the development of several trademark rights protection mechanisms applicable to gTLDs (such as legal rights objections, the Trademark Clearinghouse, and the uniform rapid suspension system). The WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center administers trademark-related dispute resolution cases for several gTLDs and ccTLDs.

Copyright

WIPO is actively contributing to international discussions on the opportunities offered by copyright in the digital environment, especially to developing economies, small and medium enterprises  (SMEs) and women entrepreneurs. The organisation administers the Internet Treaties and the Beijing Treaty, which clarify that existing copyright and related rights apply on the internet, and introduce new online rights, while also establishing international norms aimed at preventing unauthorised access to and use of creative works on the internet or other digital networks. The WIPO Accessible Books Consortium furthers the practical implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty to increase the number of books available worldwide in accessible digital formats. WIPO member states are considering topics related to copyright in the digital environment at the multilateral level. WIPO also carries out research and organises seminars and other meetings on aspects concerning challenges and possible solutions for taking advantage of the opportunities offered by copyright and related rights in the digital era.

Liability of intermediaries

Given WIPO’s concerns  regarding  the  protection of copyright and related rights on the internet, the organisation is exploring issues related to the roles and responsibilities of internet intermediaries when it comes to online copyright infringements. The organisation carries out or commissions research and publishes studies on the relationship between copyright and internet intermediaries (such as comparative analyses of national approaches to the liability of Internet intermediaries), and organises events (seminars, workshops, sessions at the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum and Internet Governance Forum (IGF) meetings, etc.) aimed at facilitating multistakeholder discussions on the potential liability of internet intermediaries concerning copyright infringements.

  • Comparative analysis of national approaches of the liability of the internet intermediaries (I and II).

Sustainable development

WIPO is of the view that IP is a critical incentive for innovation and creativity, and, as such, a key to the success of the sustainable development goals (SDGs). The organisation works to enable member states to use the IP system to drive the innovation, competitiveness, and creativity needed to achieve the SDGs. It does so, for instance, through supporting countries in their efforts to build an innovative IP ecosystem, providing legislative advice on updating national IP laws, and supporting judiciary systems in keeping up with technological innovation. WIPO’s contribution to the implementation of the Agenda 2030 is guided by its Development Agenda.

Climate change

WIPO’s Global Challenges programme brings together various stakeholders to explore issues related to green technologies and the environment. For instance, it hosts WIPO GREEN, a multistakeholder platform aimed to promote innovation and diffusion of green technologies, and it provides analysis of relevant IP issues to facilitate international policy dialogue. The WIPO GREEN platform includes a digital database of more than 120,000 green technologies in sectors such as energy, water and transportation. In 2022, WIPO launched the Green Technology Book, a major digital publication to showcase concrete solutions related to climate change adaptation. The report will be fully integrated with the WIPO GREEN database, allowing for continuous additions by technology providers.

Digital tools

Some examples of the digital tools WIPO uses in relation to its services:

  • WIPO Online Case Administration Tools, including WIPO eADR (allowing parties in a dispute, mediators, arbitrators, and experts in a WIPO case to securely submit communications electronically into an online docket) and online facilities for meetings and hearings as part of WIPO cases.
  • WIPO GREEN – online marketplace for sustainable technologies.
  • WIPO Match – platform that matches seekers of specific IP-related development needs with potential providers offering resources.
  • WIPO Alert – platform to upload information on entities that infringed copyright at national level.
  • Madrid e-services – online tools and resources.
  • Electronic Forum – enables the electronic distribution and submission by email of comments concerning preliminary draft working documents and draft reports.
  • WIPO Academy – also includes an eLearning Centre.
  • WIPO Connect – enables collective management of copyright and related rights at local and central levels.
  • ABC Global Book Service – on-line catalogue that allows participating libraries for the blind and organisations serving people who are print disabled to obtain accessible content.
  • WIPO Knowledge Centre – hosts virtual exhibitions. Recent subjects have included geographical indications, and AI.

Social media channels

Facebook @WIPO

Flickr @WIPO

Instagram @wipo

LinkedIn @WIPO

Podcast @https://www.wipo.int/podcasts/en/

Twitter @WIPO

YouTube @WIPO

Swiss Digital Initiative

Acronym: SDI

Address: c/o Campus Biotech, Chemin des Mines 9, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland

Website: https://www.swiss-digital-initiative.org/

The SDI is an independent, non-profit foundation based in Geneva, founded in 2020 by digital Switzerland under the patronage of Federal Councillor Ueli Maurer. The SDI pursues concrete projects to secure ethical standards and promote responsible conduct in the digital world. It brings together academia, government, civil society, and business to find solutions to strengthen trust in digital technologies and in the actors involved in ongoing digital transformation.

The ethical challenges of digitalisation should be tackled through a multistakeholder approach, with public and private sector initiatives so that the full potential of digital technologies can be unleashed to serve communities and society.

To realise this ambition, the SDI seeks to enable a high-quality global conversation on the ethics of digitalisation.

The SDI subscribes to the following principles in its work:

  • Inclusiveness: Commit to a participatory and inclusive process open to all relevant and interested stakeholders.
  • Awareness: Take into account other relevant initiatives and research projects within the sphere of digital ethics.
  • Transparency: Guarantee transparent communication with stakeholders and the public.
  • Agility: Ensure flexibility and agility to allow for experimentation and innovation, balancing benefits with risks.
  • Responsiveness: Enable appropriate responses to emerging dangers unforeseen during the development of new digital processes.
  • Sustainability: Strive for minimal impact on resources.
  • Benevolence: Put people’s rights and needs (as enshrined in principles such as autonomy and fairness) at the heart of progress.
  • Accountability: Commit to acting responsibly and in accordance with applicable data protection laws.

Digital activities

The SDI works on concrete projects to put into practice ethical standards in the digital age and focus on the following three areas: Digital Trust, AI Ethics, and Digital Responsibility in Practice.

With the growing awareness of the importance of digital trust, more than 50 national and international initiatives are dealing with certification and the development of criteria and labels for the responsible use of new technologies. To foster collaboration among like-minded initiatives, the SDI has compiled a comprehensive report on the digital trust ecosystem. The report Labels and Certifications for the Digital World – Mapping the International Landscape takes a closer look at 12 of the most relevant initiatives and analyses success factors as well as similarities and differences compared to the Digital Trust Label (DTL) by the SDI. In addition, it provides an interactive overview that is regularly updated to keep track of the dynamic Digital Trust Ecosystem.

The Digital Trust Whitepaper provides a comprehensive overview of the dynamic digital trust ecosystem. The compiled knowledge should form the basis for better cooperation and knowledge sharing. Instead of fragmentation, more cooperation is needed to define internationally valid labels and standards. It also provides the theoretical background for the SDI’s ongoing engagement in different working groups, for example, the Working Group on Digital Trust of the World Economic Forum.

To assess the Swiss population’s mindset regarding trust in the digital world, a qualitative study Digital Trust from the User’s Perspective was carried out in November 2019.

In a trend map Landscape of the Digital Economy and Society, the trends identified further increase the importance of trustworthy digital services.

Digital policy issues

Digital standards

Digital Trust Label

Digital Trust is a cornerstone of a successful digital transformation. The first worldwide DTL was launched in January 2022. The DTL shows that a digital application meets mandatory criteria and thus a certain standard. It also creates more information and transparency for users regarding four aspects of the application: security, data protection, reliability of the application, and fair user interaction (use of AI).

Benefits for all stakeholders:

  • Compliance with a specific standard: The digital application meets 35 different criteria in 4 aspects.
  • More transparency and information: Users understand what happens with their data and whether an algorithm makes a decision.
  • Responsible companies: The DTL shows that a digital application provider takes its responsibilities towards users seriously.

Priority in addressing Digital Trust should be given to digital services that are used in fields where

  • the handled data is very sensitive the consequences of using digital services matter greatly;
  • there is not much choice in whether to use a digital service; and
  • digital services are rolled out at a high pace and on a large scale.

This particularly concerns digital services in healthcare, the public sector, the media sector, banking and insurance, HR, and the education sector.

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence ethics

As part of ongoing efforts to raise awareness for the importance of digital responsibility and ethics in AI, the SDI has partnered up with the renowned Geneva School of Art and Design (HEAD) to create the interactive experience Adface. The web-based tool uses AI to analyse a person’s face and create a user profile to produce targeted advertisements that could fit the user profile. This simple tool shows that AI is already deeply embedded in and influencing everyday life (how AI algorithms influence decisions or automate a person’s decisions). Art and design can be valuable allies for raising awareness and stimulating critical thinking around the societal implications of new technologies.

Digital tools

Digital responsibility

The SDI is currently conducting a project with IMD Lausanne to gather best practices when it comes to implementing principles of corporate digital responsibility (CDR) and to create a starter kit with lessons, common challenges, inspiration, and additional resources to facilitate the adoption of CDR within organisations.

Future of meetings

House of Switzerland at the World Economic Forum 2022 – Event on Pioneering Digital Trust – A Commitment to Digital Responsibility together with the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.

As part of the Swiss digital days, the SDI conducted an event series to look at AI ethics from the perspective of the public and the private sector and to discuss scenarios for the future. Find the event summaries here:

The SDI and Swissnex China partnered to conduct an expert talk on digital trust and the label criteria: TechTalk on Pioneering Digital Trust.

Additional resources about the Digital Trust Label in the SDI library

Social media channels

LinkedIn @Swiss Digital Initiative

Twitter @sdi_foundation

International Organization for Standardization

Acronym: ISO

Established: 1947

Address: Chemin de Blandonnet 8, 1214 Vernier, Geneva, Switzerland

Website: https://www.iso.org/iso/home.html

Stakeholder group: International and regional organisations

ISO is an international non-governmental organisation (NGO) composed of 165 national standard-setting bodies that are either part of governmental institutions or mandated by their respective governments. Each national standard-setting body therefore represents a member state. After receiving a request from a consumer group or an industry association, ISO convenes an expert group tasked with creating a particular standard through a consensus process. ISO develops international standards across a wide range of industries, including technology, food, and healthcare, to ensure that products and services are safe, reliable, of good quality, and ultimately, facilitate international trade. As such, it acts between the public and the private sector. To date, ISO has published more than 22,000 standards.

Digital activities

A large number of the international standards and related documents developed by ISO are related to information and communications technologies (ICTs), such as the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) created in 1983; it established a universal reference model for communication protocols. The organisation is also active in the field of emerging technologies including blockchain, the internet of things (IoT), and artificial intelligence (AI).

The standards are developed by various technical committees dedicated to specific areas including information security, cybersecurity, privacy protection, AI, and intelligent transport systems. ISO contributes to all of the sustainable development goals (SDGs). Here you can see the number of ISO standards that apply to each SDG.

Digital policy issues

Artificial intelligence

The joint technical committee of ISO and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) for AI is known as ISO/ IEC JTC1/SC 42 and is responsible for the development of standards in this area. To date, it has published one standard specifically pertaining to AI with 18 others in development.

ISO/IEC TR 24028 provides an overview of trustworthiness in AI systems, detailing the associated threats and risks and addresses approaches on availability, resiliency, reliability, accuracy, safety, security, and privacy. The standards under development include those that cover concepts and terminology for AI (ISO/IEC 22989), bias in AI systems and AI-aided decision-making (ISO/IEC TR 24027), AI risk management (ISO/IEC 23894), a framework for AI systems using machine learning (ML) (ISO/IEC 23053), and the assessment of ML classification performance (ISO/IEC TS 4213).

Up-to-date information on the technical committee (e.g. scope, programme of work, contact details) can be found on the committee page.

Cloud computing

ISO and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) also have a joint committee for standards related to cloud computing, which currently has 19 published standards and a further 7 in development.

Of those published, two standards of note include ISO/ IEC 19086-1, which provides an overview, foundational concepts, and definitions for a cloud computing service level agreement framework, and ISO/IEC 17789, which specifies the cloud computing reference architecture.

Standards under development include those on health informatics (ISO/TR 21332.2); the audit of cloud services (ISO/IEC 22123-2.2); and data flow, categories, and use (ISO/IEC 19 944 -1). Up-to-date information on the technical committee (e.g. scope, programme of work, contact details) can be found on the committee page.

Internet of things

Recognising the ongoing developments in the field of IoT, ISO has a number of dedicated standards both published and in development, including those for intelligent transport systems (ISO 19079), future networks for IoT (ISO/IEC TR 29181-9), unique identification for IoT (ISO/ IEC 29161), Internet of Media Things (ISO/IEC 23093-3), trust-worthiness of IoT (IS O/IEC 30149), and industrial IoT systems (ISO/IEC 30162). IoT security is addressed in standards such as ISO/IEC 27001 and ISO/IEC 27002, which provide a common language for governance, risk, and compliance issues related to information security.

In addition, there are seven standards under development, some of which provide a methodology for the trustworthiness of an IoT system or service (ISO/IEC 30147), a trustworthiness framework (ISO/IEC 30149), the requirements of an IoT data exchange platform for various IoT services (ISO/IEC 30161), and a real-time IoT framework (ISO/IEC 30165). Up-to-date information on the ISO and IEC joint technical committee for IoT (e.g. scope, programme of work, contact details) can be found on the committee page.

Telecommunication infrastructure

ISO’s standardisation work in the field of telecommunications infrastructure covers areas such as planning and installation of networks (e.g. ISO/IEC 14763-2 and ISO/IEC TR 14763-2-1), corporate telecommunication networks (e.g. ISO/IEC 17343), local and metropolitan area networks (e.g. ISO/IEC/IEEE 8802-A), private integrated telecommunications networks (e.g.   ISO/ IEC TR 14475), and wireless networks. Next-generation networks – packet-based public networks able to provide telecommunications services and make use of multiple quality of service enabled transport technology – are equally covered (e.g. ISO/IEC TR 26905).

ISO also has standards for the so-called future networks, which are intended to provide futuristic capabilities and services beyond the limitations of current networks, including the internet.

Up-to-date information on the joint ISO and IEC technical committee that develops these standards (e.g. scope, programme of work, contact details) can be found on the committee page.

Blockchain

ISO has published three standards on blockchain and distributed ledger technologies: ISO/TR 23455 gives an overview of smart contracts in blockchain and distributed ledger technologies, ISO/TR 23244 tackles privacy and personally identifiable information protection, and ISO 22739 covers fundamental blockchain terminology respectively.

ISO also has a further ten standards on blockchain in development. These include those related to security risks, threats, and vulnerabilities (ISO/TR 23245.2); security management of digital asset custodians (ISO/TR 23576); taxonomy and ontology (ISO/TS 23258); legally- binding smart contracts (ISO/TS 23259); and guidelines for governance (ISO/TS 23635).

Up-to-date information on the technical committee (e.g. scope, programme of work, contact details) can be found on the committee page.

Emerging technologies

ISO develops standards in the area of emerging technologies. Perhaps the largest number of standards in this area are those related to robotics. ISO has more than 40 different standards either published or in development that cover issues such as collaborative robots (e.g. ISO/TS 15066), safety requirements for industrial robots (e.g. ISO 10218-2), and personal care robots (e.g. ISO 13482).

Autonomous or so-called intelligent transport systems (ITS) standards are developed by ISO’s ITS Technical Committee and include those for forward vehicle collision warning systems (ISO 15623) and secure connections between trusted devices (ISO/TS 21185).

Standards are also being developed to address the use of virtual reality in learning, education, and training (e.g. ISO/ IEC 23843) and the display device interface for augmented reality (ISO/IEC 23763).

Encryption

As more and more information (including sensitive personal data) is stored, transmitted, and processed online, the security, integrity, and confidentiality of such information become increasingly important. To this end, ISO has a number of standards for the encryption of data. For example, ISO/IEC 18033-1, currently under development, addresses the nature of encryption and describes certain general aspects of its use and properties. Other standards include ISO/IEC 19772, which covers authenticated encryption; ISO/IEC 18033-3, which specifies encryption systems (ciphers) for the purpose of data confidentiality; and ISO 19092, which allows for the encryption of biometric data used for authentication of individuals in financial services for confidentiality or other reasons.

ISO also has standards that focus on identity-based ciphers, symmetric and asymmetric encryption, public key infrastructure, and many more related areas.

Data governance

Big data is another area of ISO standardisation, and around 80% of related standards are developed by the ISO/IEC AI committee. The terminology for big-data-related standards is outlined in ISO/IEC 20546, while ISO/ IEC 20547-3 covers big data reference architecture. ISO/IEC TR 20547-2 provides examples of big data use cases with application domains and technical considerations. ISO/IEC TR 20547-5 details a roadmap of existing and future standards in this area. A further eight standards are in development and include those for big data security and privacy (ISO/IEC 27045), terminology used in big data within the scope of predictive analytics (ISO 3534-5), and data science life cycle (ISO/TR 23347).

Up-to-date information on the technical committee (e.g. scope, programme of work, contact details) can be found on the committee page.

Digital identities

Digital signatures that validate digital identities help to ensure the integrity of data and the authenticity of particulars in online transactions. This, therefore, contributes to the security of online applications and services. Standards to support this technology cover elements such as anonymous digital signatures (e.g. ISO/IEC 20008-1 and ISO/IEC 20008-2); digital signatures for healthcare documents (e.g. ISO 17090-4 and ISO 17090-5); and blind digital signatures, which is where the content of the message to be signed is disguised, used in contexts where, for example, anonymity is required. Examples of such standards are ISO 18370-1 and ISO/IEC 18370-2.

Privacy and data protection

Privacy and data protection in the context of ICTs is another area covered by ISO’s standardisation activities. One example is ISO/IEC 29101, which describes a privacy architecture framework. Others include those for privacy-enhancing protocols and services for identification cards (ISO/IEC 19286); privacy protection requirements pertaining to learning, education, and training systems employing information technologies (ISO/IEC 29187-1); privacy aspects in the context of intelligent transport systems (ISO/TR 12859); and security and privacy requirements for health informatics (ISO/TS 14441).

ISO has developed an online browsing platform that provides up-to-date information on ISO standards, graphical symbols, publications, and terms and definitions.

Future of meetings

ISO’s meetings take place face-to-face, hybrid, or virtually. This is reflected in the ISO meeting calendar. ISO’s governance groups are also meeting face-to-face, hybrid, or virtually.

Social media channels

Facebook @isostandards

Instagram @iisostandards

LinkedIn @isostandards

Twitter @isostandards

YouTube @iso

Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

Acronym: Geneva Academy

Established: 2007

Address: Rue de Lausanne 120B, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland

Website: https://www.geneva-academy.ch/

The Geneva Academy – a joint centre of the University of Geneva (UNIGE) and the Geneva Graduate Institute – provides postgraduate education, conducts academic legal research and policy studies, and organises training courses and expert meetings. It concentrates on branches of international law that relate to armed conflict, protracted violence, and the protection of human rights.

Digital activities

Are new means and methods of warfare compatible with existing international humanitarian law (IHL) rules? What challenges do big data and artificial intelligence (AI) pose to human rights? How can we ensure the right to privacy and protection of the private sphere in times of war and peace?

New technologies, digitalisation, and big data are reshaping our societies and the way they organise. While technological advancements present tremendous opportunities and promises, rapid developments in AI, automation, and robotics raise a series of questions about their impact in times of peace and war.

The Geneva Academy’s research in this domain explores whether these new developments are compatible with existing rules and whether IHL and human rights law continue to provide the level of protection they are meant to ensure.

Its three Master’s programmes and training courses also train tomorrow’s leaders and decision-makers in the IHL and human rights legal frameworks relevant to digital activities, including on the law of weaponry and new military technologies.

Its Geneva Human Rights Platform (GHRP) facilitates exchanges and discussions among various stakeholders – experts, practitioners, diplomats, and civil society – around digitalisation and human rights to provide policy advice on how to harness potential and mitigate danger in this rapidly changing field.

The Academy’s public events and expert meetings provide a critical and scholarly forum for experts, practitioners, and policymakers to discuss and debate the impact of digitalisation on human rights and contemporary armed conflicts.

Digital policy issues

Emerging technologies

New military technologies have a profound impact on how wars are fought. Significant advances in the fields of cyberspace, AI, robotics, and space technology are at the forefront of contemporary geopolitical power struggles and current protection questions during armed conflicts.

The Geneva Academy addresses these challenges via the following two research projects coordinated by its Swiss IHL Chair Professor Marco Roscini.

  • Digitalization of Conflict Joint Initiative: Humanitarian Impact and Legal Protection
  • The Disruptive Military Technologies project aims to stay abreast of the various military technology trends, promote legal and policy debate on new military technologies, and further the understanding of the convergent effects of different technological trends that shape the future digital battlefield. Developments in the fields of cyberwarfare, cybersecurity, and emerging military applications of AI constitute the core focus area of this research.

Artificial intelligence

The Academy’s research project on disruptive technologies and rights-based resilience addresses the impact of disruptive technologies such as AI and advanced robotics on human rights.

Data governance

Rule of Law in Armed Conflicts (RULAC) is a unique online portal that identifies and classifies all situations of armed violence that amount to an armed conflict under international humanitarian law.

RULAC currently monitors more than 100 armed conflicts involving at least 55 states and more than 70 armed non-state actors. These armed conflicts can be searched via an interactive map that displays state parties and the various types of armed conflicts: international, non-international, and military occupations. All the armed conflicts on RULAC are constantly monitored and regularly updated to include new developments and fundamental changes that may affect their classification.

Human rights principles

Disruptive technologies such as AI and advanced robotics pose significant societal challenges and specific threats to human rights. They can be used, for instance, to exacerbate ethnic conflict, fuel hate speech, undermine democratic processes, facilitate state surveillance, and perpetuate discriminatory narratives and practices. Better regulating these fast-paced technological advances requires placing IHRL at the centre of regulatory and policy frameworks developed by states and tech companies.

Research on disruptive technologies and rights-based resilience – launched in 2021 and carried out in partnership with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) B-Tech Project and the Geneva Science- Policy Interface (GSPI) – facilitates a multistakeholder process to identify gaps, generate new evidence, and design tools to support regulatory and policy responses to human rights challenges linked to digital technologies.

The GHRP, hosted by the Geneva Academy, provides a neutral and dynamic forum of interaction for all stakeholders in the field of human rights to debate topical issues and challenges related to the functioning of the Geneva-based human rights system. Relying on academic research and findings, it works to enable various actors to be better connected, break silos, and, hence, advance human rights.

In this context, the GHRP facilitates exchanges and discussions on human rights and digitalisation with a view to moving the focus of UN human rights mechanisms beyond the right to privacy or freedom of expression by exploring the impact on all rights and formulating specific policy advice.

Digital tools

The Geneva Academy proposes many of its activities– events, training courses – in a hybrid format (in-person and online). Via the recording and publication of videos on our website and social media channels, interested audiences can also watch important public debates and discussions afterwards.

One of its Master’s programmes – the Executive Master in International Law in Armed Conflict – is an online part-time programme for practitioners with demanding jobs and responsibilities. An easy and interactive platform allows them to interact directly with professors and other participants during classes and access all the course materials and readings. If a participant is unable to follow a specific class, they can watch the recordings afterwards.

Its short courses on topical issues and challenges in international law in armed conflict like international refugee law, the protection of persons and property in international armed conflict, or the challenges of international criminal justice, are also offered online.

Future of meetings

Following the COVID-19 crisis, the Geneva Academy continues to offer many of its events and training courses in a hybrid format (in-person and online).

In addition, its Executive Master in International Law in Armed Conflict and related short courses are now exclusively offered online and, therefore, also accessible to practitioners in the field.

Social media channels

Facebook @GenevaAcademyIHLandHR

Instagram @geneva_academy

LinkedIn @Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian

Law and Human Rights

Twitter @Geneva_Academy

YouTube @Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

Commission on Science and Technology for Development

Acronym: CSTD

Established: 1992

Address: Palais des Nations, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland

Website: https://unctad.org/en/Pages/cstd.aspx

The CSTD is a subsidiary body of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The Commission met for the first time in April 1993 in New York, USA. Since July 1993, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has been hosting the CSTD secretariat, which holds an annual intergovernmental session for the discussion of timely and pertinent issues affecting science, technology, and development. CSTD members are national governments, but debates also involve representatives from academia, the private sector, and civil society. Strong links exist with other UN bodies (including the Commission on the Status of Women, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Regional Commissions, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United National Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA)). Outcomes of the CSTD include providing the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and ECOSOC with high-level advice on relevant science and technology issues.

Digital activities

The CSTD reviews progress made in the implementation of and follow-up to the WSIS outcomes at the regional and international levels. It also discusses frontier technologies, which are largely linked with digitalisation. Based on reviews and discussions, the CSTD prepares draft resolutions for ECOSOC. These draft resolutions tackle issues ranging from access to the internet, information and communications technologies (ICTs), and frontier technologies to the use of these technologies in achieving sustainable development, particularly under the 2030 Agenda, including mitigating and adapting to climate change. At each of its annual sessions and intersessional panels, the CSTD addresses two priority themes regarding the use of STI including digital technologies, in different areas, for example, sustainable cities and communities; inclusive social and economic development; good health and well-being; opportunities and challenges associated with blockchain technology; capacity development; Industry 4.0 for inclusive development; and access to safe water and sanitation.

Digital policy issues

Artificial intelligence (1)

As part of its work on assessing the impact of technological change on inclusive and sustainable development, the CSTD is also exploring the role of frontier technologies including AI. At its 22nd session, the CSTD pointed out that AI and other frontier technologies offer significant opportunities to accelerate progress in the SDGs, while also posing new challenges (e.g. disrupting labour markets, exacerbating or creating new inequalities, and raising ethical questions). The CSTD focused its 2019–2020 intersessional work on digital frontier technologies, such as AI, big data, and robotics. For 2021, the CSTD chose another digital technology – blockchain for sustainable development – as a priority theme for its work. In 2022, the CSTD deliberated on Industry 4.0 technologies (such as AI, big data, IoT, and robotics) for inclusive development.

Access (2)

During its annual sessions and intersessional panels, as well as in its draft resolutions for ECOSOC, the CSTD tackles aspects related to the digital divide, and outlines the need for further progress in addressing the impediments that developing countries face in accessing new technologies. It often underlines the need for coordinated efforts among all stakeholders to bridge the digital divide in its various dimensions: access to infrastructure, affordability, quality of access, digital skills, gender gap, and others. To this aim, the CSTD recommends policies and actions to improve connectivity and access to infrastructure, affordability, multilingualism and cultural preservation, digital skills and digital literacy, capacity development, and appropriate financing mechanisms.

Sustainable development

As the UN focal point for STI for development, the CSTD analyses the impact of digital technologies on sustainable development (assessing opportunities, risks, and challenges), including from the perspective of the ‘leaving no one behind’ principle. The CSTD also works to identify strategies, policies, and actions to foster the use of technology to empower people (especially vulnerable individuals and groups) and ensure inclusiveness and equality. In addition, it acts as a forum for strategic planning, sharing of good practices, and providing foresight about emerging and disruptive technologies.

Capacity development

Capacity development is one of the recurring themes that appear in draft resolutions prepared by the CSTD on the implementation of and follow-up to the WSIS outcomes. The CSTD often emphasises the need for countries and other stakeholders to focus on capacity development policies and actions to further enhance the role of the internet as a catalyst for growth and development. Strengthening the capacity of stakeholders to participate in internet governance processes is another objective the CSTD has been calling for, especially in regard to the Internet Governance Forum (IGF).

Digital tools

Interdisciplinary approaches: Internet governance

The CSTD was mandated to review the IGF process and suggest improvements. To this aim, the Working Group on Improvements to the IGF was established and a report recommending several action items regarding the IGF was delivered in 2012. The CSTD was also entrusted with the mandate to initiate discussions about enhanced cooperation in internet governance. It convened two working groups on enhanced cooperation (2013–2014 and 2016–2018); although consensus seemed to emerge on some issues, a divergence of views persisted on others and the Working Group could not find consensus on recommendations on how to further implement enhanced cooperation as envisioned in the Tunis Agenda.

UNCTAD is in charge of servicing the CSTD. As such, digital tools used by UNCTAD, for example, platform for online meetings, and social media for communications purposes are also employed for CSTD-related purposes. For instance, the 23rd and 24th CSTD annual sessions as well as the intersessional panel of the 24th CSTD were purely virtual, using the Interprefy platform. The intersessional panel and the annual session of the 25th CSTD were hybrid, combining online and in-person participation. The online platforms used were Interprefy and Zoom, respectively.

Social media channels

Facebook @UNCTAD

Flickr @UNCTAD

Instagram @unctad

LinkedIn @UNCTAD

Twitter @UNCTAD

YouTube @UNCTADOnline

1-Within the work of the CSTD, AI is placed under the term ‘frontier technologies’, which also includes big data analytics, biotech and genome editing, and IoT, https://unctad.org/en/Pages/CSTD/CSTDAbout.aspx

2-In the CSTD’s work, disparities related to access to the internet are referred to as the ‘digital divide’.

The South Centre

Address: Chem. de Balexert 7-9, 1219 Genève, Switzerland

Website: https://southcentre.int

Established in 1995, the South Centre is an intergovernmental policy research think tank composed of and accountable to developing country member states. It conducts research on key policy development issues and supports developing countries to effectively participate in international negotiating processes that are relevant to the achievement of the sustainable development goals (SDGs). The South Centre promotes the unity of the Global South in such processes while recognising the diversity of national interests and priorities.

The South Centre works on a wide range of issues relevant to countries in the Global South and the global community in general,  such as sustainable development, climate change, South-South co-operation, innovation and intellectual property,  access to medicines, health, trade, investment agreements, international tax co-operation, human rights, and gender.

Within the limits of its capacity and mandate, the South Centre also responds to requests for policy advice and for technical and other support from its members and other developing countries.

The South Centre has observer status in a number of international organisations.

Digital Activities

Innovation and development are one of the issue areas that the South Centre works on. As part of its efforts within this domain, it focuses on information technologies. Moreover, digital issues are also tackled in the domain of, inter alia, taxation and the digital economy, data governance, e-commerce, and the 4th industrial revolution.

The South Centre has produced deliverables/research outputs in the following areas: digital and financial inclusion, digital economy, digital taxation, digital industrialisation, and digital trade, among others.

Digital policy issues

Sustainable development 

The South Centre has delved into the interplay between digital technologies and development on several occasions through its research outputs. In 2006, it published an analytical note titled ‘Internet Governance for Development’. The document tackled the interplay between development and technology arguing that affordable access to the Internet allows for better education opportunities, greater access to information, improved private and public services, and stronger cultural diversity. More specifically, the document provided recommendations on issues such as openness (e.g. leaving the policy space open for developing countries), diversity (e.g. multilingualism), and security (e.g. funding of Computer Security Incident Response Teams (CSIRTs) in order to maximise the outcomes of discussions for developing countries at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF)).

A year later, the South Centre published the research paper ‘Towards a Digital Agenda for Developing Countries’, in which it looked into the conditions, rights, and freedoms necessary for developing countries to benefit from digital and Internet resources. By bringing together several different strands of ongoing discussions and analyses at the national and international levels, it aims to provide a direction for further research and policy analysis by laying the groundwork and creating awareness of the relevance and scope of digital and Internet content for policymakers in developing countries.

In 2020, the South Centre has continued to research the impact of digital technologies in the context of development. Its research paper ‘The Fourth Industrial Revolution in Developing Nations: Challenges and Roadmap’ tackles trends in emerging technologies such as big data, robotics, and Internet of things (IoT), and identifies challenges, namely, the lack of infrastructure, a trained and skilled workforce, scalability, and funding faced by developing countries. It then goes on to propose a strategic framework for responding to the 4th industrial revolution, which focuses on capacity building, technology incubations, scientific development, and policy-making.

In light of the ongoing global health pandemic, the South Centre as part of its publication series ‘SouthViews’, shared perspectives of developing countries on digital health. The article uses the example of the adoption of digital technologies in healthcare in Pakistan, and how the COVID-19 crisis advanced further the development of digital health.

E-commerce and trade 

The digital economy is another issue researched by the South Centre in the context of development. For instance, in 2017 it published an analytical note ‘The WTO’s Discussions on Electronic Commerce’, in which it explored the stance of developing countries (i.e. readiness in terms of infrastructure, upskilling, etc.) to engage in cross-border e-commerce. Among other things, it highlighted challenges such as low information technology (IT) adoption, and the lack of electricity supply that limit the uptake of e-commerce activities in Africa for instance. In another analytical note published that same year, it tackled the impact of the digital economy on ‘Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs)’, and looked into the type of e-commerce rules that could best serve the interests of MSMEs.

More recently, it addressed issues pertaining to regulation of the digital economy in developing countries, namely, the future of work, market dynamics, and data and privacy protection.

The South Centre also provides analyses and organised many meetings in early 2020 to discuss issues such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) E-Commerce Moratorium and the Joint Statement Initiative (JSI) plurilateral discussions on e-commerce.

In addition to publications, the South Centre organises events within this field such as a workshop on ‘E-commerce and Domestic Regulation’, a technical session on ‘South-South Digital Cooperation to Boost Trade Competitiveness’, and a high-level event on ‘South-South Digital Cooperation for Industrialization’.

The South Centre is also monitoring developments and participating in discussions in the field and across international organisations in Geneva, including the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) eTrade for All initiative.

Taxation 

A South Centre policy brief sheds light on some of the implications for developing countries concerning the new international taxation global governance structure and the ongoing corporate tax reform process under the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Project umbrella in the context of the digitalisation of the economy.  Policy responses undertaken are briefly summarised in a ‘SouthViews’ article and elaborated in detail in a research paper by the South Centre Tax Initiative (SCTI). The SCTI also submitted its comments on the OECD Secretariat’s Proposal for a “Unified Approach” under Pillar One and on the session paper relating to tax consequences of the digitalised economy and– issues of relevance for developing countries to be discussed at the 20th Session of the UN Committee of Experts on International Cooperation on Tax Matters.

Intellectual property rights 

Intellectual property (IP) issues such as digital rights management and international legal frameworks for copyright in the digital age in the context of digital transformation have also been subject to South Centre research.

In June 2019, it published a policy brief on ‘Intellectual Property and Electronic Commerce: Proposals in the WTO and Policy Implications for Developing Countries’, in which it gave an overview of discussions within the WTO on IP and its potential implications for the digital economy.

Artificial intelligence (AI) was also tackled through the lens of IP. In an input on the draft issues paper on IP policy and AI submitted to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the South Centre provides a number of recommendations which, among other things, underscore that particularities of AI and IP policy in developing countries and capacity building, including South-South dynamics that should be tackled in the final draft of the issues paper.

In September 2020, the South Centre also published a research paper entitled ‘Data in legal limbo: Ownership, sovereignty, or a digital public goods regime?’.

Digital Tools

A Public Health Approach to Intellectual Property Rights’: a virtual help desk on the use of Trade-related aspects of Intellectual property Rights (TRIPS) flexibilities for public health purposes A Public Health Approach to Intellectual Property Rights’: a virtual help desk on the use of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) flexibilities for public health purposes https://ipaccessmeds.southcentre.int/ South Centre Tax Initiative: https://taxinitiative.southcentre.int/Social Media: Twitter: @South_Centre ; YouTube: SouthCentre GVA; Flickr: South Centre; LinkedIn The South Centre has a general and specific e-mailing lists.

Future of Meetings

Any reference to online or remote meetings? In light of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the South Centre has increasingly used Zoom and Microsoft Teams for online meetings and webinars. The South Centre organised a webinar on ‘The COVID-19 Pandemic: Intellectual Property Management for Access to Diagnostics, Medicines and Vaccines’ and a series of webinars on COVID-19 and development, which are as follows:

  1. Energy for sustainable development in Africa in the post-COVID world – looking for the ‘New Normal’

Webinar 1: COVID-19 impact actions across Africa. First-hand information from policymakers and leading experts

  1. Energy for sustainable development in Africa in the post-COVID world – looking for the ‘New Normal’

Webinar 2: Sustainable Energy for Africa: transition through growth. How to boost output, improve access and reduce impact on the nature and society? Technologies, scenarios, strategies, sources of finance and business models.

  1. Tax Policy Options For Funding the Post-COVID Recovery in the Global South
  2. Responsible Investment for Development and Human Rights: Assessing Different Mechanisms to Face Possible Investor-State Disputes from COVID-19 Related Measures

The South Centre also organised a webinar titled Reflexiones sobre la Judicialización de la Salud en America Latina’.