The United Nations cites disinformation and terrorism, and calls for “consensus” on the use of digital technology

While digital technologies have opened “unlimited opportunities” for sustainable development, education and inclusion, the UN’s political head, Rosemary DiCarlo, on Monday (23rd) warned of the risks such progress could pose.

“We have a critical opportunity to build consensus on how digital technologies can be used for the benefit of people and the planet, while addressing their risks,” the Under-Secretary-General for Political and Security Affairs told the Security Council. consolidation of peace and

DiCarlo noted that social media has transformed human rights and humanitarian advocacy, “making it possible to mobilize people around the world quickly and efficiently around issues that require urgent action.”

In order to maintain peace and security, technical developments have improved the ability to detect crises, improved the pre-positioning of humanitarian aid and created data-driven peacebuilding tools. In the field of conflict prevention, new digital tools have enhanced peacemaking and peacebuilding by providing better early warning information and data.

The new open RAN technologies are expected to provide greater flexibility and cost-effectiveness to the communications infrastructure.

The Under-Secretary-General referred to the UN mission in Yemen, which uses map and satellite technology to improve ceasefire monitoring and enhance the UN’s ability to “understand, analyze and respond to crises that could have a digital impact and deal with digital risks.”

Moreover, new technologies can support policy processes, particularly in promoting inclusion. “In many peace negotiations, we use digital dialogues with the help of artificial intelligence to reach out to thousands of interlocutors and hear their views and priorities,” she said. “This has been a particularly useful way to reach traditionally excluded groups such as women.”

Technology can also improve the security of peacekeepers and civilian personnel on the ground. “The launch of the Peacekeeping Digital Transformation Strategy is an essential step towards this goal and towards more effective mandate implementation, and increased early warning capabilities,” said the Political Chair.

These tools help visualize information and provide data-rich analysis to inform Security Council decisions – as evidenced by a recent virtual reality show on Colombia highlighting the UN’s work on the ground for ambassadors.

worrying trends

However, there are areas of concern. In this context, DiCarlo cited estimates that the number of nationally and non-state sponsored incidents of harmful technology use has nearly quadrupled since 2015.

“A particular concern is activity [maliciosa] It targets infrastructure that provides essential public services such as health and humanitarian agencies.

At the same time, lethal autonomous weapons raise questions about human responsibility when force is used. He cited terrorism as an example.

“Non-state actors are becoming increasingly adept at using low-cost and widely available digital technologies to pursue their agendas,” the UN official warned, noting that terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda are actively using social media platforms. For recruitment, planning and fundraising.

state control

From surveillance technologies that can target communities or individuals to potentially discriminatory artificial intelligence, DiCarlo has drawn 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, depriving communities of the means of communication, work and political participation,” DiCarlo said, referring to Myanmar, where the number and duration of such incidents has increased since the military coup last year.

Moreover, social media can fuel polarization and violence by spreading misinformation, extremism, racism and misogyny, increasing tensions and exacerbating conflicts.

“In Ethiopia, with the escalation of the fighting, there has been an alarming increase in the number of posts on social media spreading inflammatory rhetoric, some even inciting ethnic violence,” the senior UN official recalls. “We also know that disinformation can undermine the ability of our missions to carry out their mandates, exacerbate falsehoods and fuel polarization.”

Nanjala Nyabola, Director Advox, an online digital rights project, has highlighted the need to defend and enforce digital rights. “Over the past two decades, we’ve seen a huge expansion in the use of digital technology,” she said. “But unfortunately, it has not been complemented by a similar investment in protecting us from the damage the expansion has done.”

The speed of technological progress created problems that could have been avoided at an early stage, Nyapula said, calling for a widespread moratorium on new monitoring technologies.

It also drew the attention of the Security Council to digital access policies and internet outages, highlighting their negative impact on cultural and economic minorities and posing obstacles to women’s access.

“Digital rights are human rights,” she said, adding that users must be protected.

improve peacekeeping

Dirk Drut, Associate Professor at the Center for International Peace and Security Studies at McGill Universityhighlight advanced language monitoring and translation techniques that can improve the effectiveness of peacekeeping and protection.

He urged the United Nations to take a more in-depth role in telling the truth in conflict areas, and noted that peacekeeping operations should craft their own digital technology protocols in addition to those of the countries that support them.

Finally, Drutt argued that, for a local audience, telling the truth is directly linked to building trust, advocating greater ability to monitor and engage the “information landscape” in conflict areas.

Content adapted from material originally published in English by UN News

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