“We have a critical opportunity to build consensus on how digital technologies can be used for the good of people and the planet, while addressing their risks,” Deputy Secretary General Rosemary DiCarlo told the Security Council. political affairs and peacebuilding.
“But collective action by member states remains essential to achieve this goal.”
New technologies support political processes, promote inclusion, improve our ability to detect crises. They can also be used to escalate violent conflict. Further progress is needed on a normative framework to ensure responsible behavior in cyberspace. https://t.co/0NUcG9XECA
— Rosemary A. DiCarlo (@DicarloRosemary) May 23, 2022
Digital technologies for good
She noted that social media has transformed advocacy for human rights and humanitarian aid, “making it possible to quickly and effectively mobilize people around the world around issues in need of urgent action.”
In the maintenance of peace and security, technical developments have improved ability to detect seizuresbetter pre-position humanitarian aid and create data-driven peacebuilding tools, she said.
And in conflict prevention, new digital tools have strengthened peacemaking and peacebuilding, providing better information and early warning data, DiCarlo added.
She pointed to the United Nations Mission in Support of the Hudaydah Accord (UNMHA) in Yemen, which uses mapping and satellite technology to improve ceasefire monitoring and increases the UN’s ability to “understand , analyze and respond to crises that may have a digital dimension, and… deal with digital risks”.
In addition, new technologies can support political processes, in particular by promoting inclusion.
“In various peace negotiations, we have used digital dialogues assisted by artificial intelligence (AI) to reach thousands of interlocutorsto hear their views and priorities,” she said.
“This has been a particularly useful way of reaching traditionally excluded groups, including women.”
Safety and security
They can also improve the safety and security of peacekeepers and civilian personnel in the field.
“The launch of the Strategy for the Digital Transformation of Peacekeeping represents an essential step towards this goal and towards more effective implementation of the mandate – by increasing early warning capabilities,” the political leader said.
These tools also help visualize information and convey data-rich analysis to inform Security Council decisions – as exemplified by a recent virtual reality presentation on Colombia, highlighting the UN’s work on the land for ambassadors.
However, there are areas of concern, DiCarlo continued, citing estimates that the number of domestic and non-state-sponsored technology incidents used for malicious purposes has increased. almost quadrupled since 2015.
“Of a particular concern is activity targeting infrastructure that provides essential public serviceslike health and humanitarian agencies,” she said.
At the same time, lethal autonomous weapons raise questions about human responsibility when force is used.
Echoing the Secretary-General, she called machines with the power and discretion to take lives without human involvement, “politically unacceptable, morally repugnant and should be banned by international law”.
“Non-state actors are increasingly adept at using low-cost, widely available digital technologies to pursue their agendaswarned the UN official, pointing out that terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda actively use social media platforms to recruit, plan and raise funds.
UN Photo/Manuel Elias
More and more challenges
From surveillance technologies that can target communities or individuals to potentially discriminatory AI, she drew attention to the human rights implications of new technologies.
“We are also concerned about the increasing use of internet shutdowns, including in situations of active conflict, which deprive communities of their means of communication, work and political participation,” said Ms. DiCarlo, recalling the Myanmar, where such incidents have increased. in number and duration since the military coup last year.
Moreover, she continues, social media can fuel polarization and violence by spreading misinformation, radicalization, racism and misogyny – the aggravation of tensions and the exacerbation of conflicts.
“In Ethiopia, as the fighting intensified, there was an alarming increase in social media posts spreading inflammatory rhetoric, with some going so far as to incite ethnic violence,” the senior ISIS official recalled. UN to the Council. “We also know that misinformation can impede the ability of our missions to implement their mandates, exacerbating lies and fueling polarization.”
While seizing the opportunities offered by new technologies to advance peace, the risks must be mitigated and responsible use must be promoted by all.
Driven by the Hate Speech Action Plan and communications initiatives such as Verified, the UN is working to mitigate these dangers by avoiding misperceptions and misunderstandings, Ms. DiCarlo told the meeting.
“However, more needs to be done,” she concluded, highlighting the Global Digital Deal, which would define common principles for an “open, free and secure digital future for all”; the new agenda for peace, which takes a holistic view of global security” and the draft code of conduct for the integrity of public information.
In a virtual briefing, Nanjala Nyabola, Director of Advox, the online community digital rights project, Global Voices, highlighted the need to defend and enforce digital rights.
“Over the past two decades we have seen a dramatic expansion in the use of digital technology,” she said, but it has “unfortunately not complemented by a similar investment in protecting ourselves of the damage that the expansion has caused”.
The rapid pace of technological progress has created problems that could have been avoided at an earlier stage, Ms. Nyabola said, calling for a broad moratorium on new surveillance technologies.
She drew the Council’s attention to digital access policies and internet shutdowns, highlighting how they negatively impact cultural and economic minorities and act as barriers to women’s access.
“Digital rights are human rights,” she said, adding that users must be protected.
© UNICEF/Hoang Le Vu
Dirk Druet, adjunct professor at McGill University’s Center for International Peace and Security Studies, pointed to sophisticated surveillance and language translation technologies that can improve the effectiveness and protection of peacekeeping.
He urged the UN to take on a more deliberate truth-telling role in conflict zones and reiterated that peacekeeping operations must forge their own digital technology protocols. beyond those of the states they support.
Finally, Mr. Druet argued that for local constituencies, truth is directly linked to building trust, arguing for increased ability to monitor and engage the “information landscape” in conflict zones.