Minister Haavisto (Finland)
Minister Çavuşoğlu (Turkey)
Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
It is a great pleasure to join you today for the 10th ministerial meeting of the Group of Friends of Mediation.
Over the last decade the Group has led the way in promoting the use of mediation in the peaceful settlement of disputes. Allow me to recognize the leadership role played by Finland and Turkey, as co-chairs of the Group.
Looking forward to the next decade, I welcome the choice of today’s theme: “New technologies for peace and mediation as tools for inclusion.” While mediation remains a human intensive endeavour, we must also recognize that more and more significant political discourse happens online, with implications for how conflicts start, evolve and end.
Consequently, I have made exploring the impact of digital technologies on peace and security issues one of the priorities of the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs. Our efforts are in line with the Secretary-General’s system-wide initiative to harness the use of new technologies to further the objectives and administration of the United Nations.
In our Department, we are establishing an Innovation Cell to strengthen capacities for innovation, including the use of digital technologies, across our peace and security mandates. We have also recently co-published an online Toolkit of Digital Technologies and Mediation with the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue. The Toolkit, which will be continuously updated, assesses the opportunities and risks that digital technologies present for mediation.
Inclusivity is one of the core principles of UN mediation. Inclusive processes produce greater legitimacy and ownership because they ensure that the needs of those who have suffered the consequences of conflict most directly, including women and youth, are addressed.
Inclusivity is also essential to addressing the growing fragmentation of today’s conflicts. We know that when peace processes are not inclusive, they often fail.
In this regard, digital technologies offer considerable opportunities to access a wider group of stakeholders beyond the main conflict parties. This is especially important in ensuring that the voices of people in hard-to-reach and conflict affected areas reach the negotiating table.
On the other hand, mediators need to seriously consider digital security, safety and reputational risks. On-line hate speech is a pervasive problem. Misinformation campaigns, bot nets and artificial intelligence can be used to “game” online inclusion efforts. We must also be careful to ensure that lack of access to information and communication technologies do not produce new patterns of exclusion.
Before I conclude, let me share a few examples that illustrate the potential of technology to promote inclusion.
During preparations for a National Conference Process (NCP) in Libya in 2018, the UN Mission developed an Arabic-language website that allowed Libyans to provide their insights on issues related to the future of the Libyan state.
Over a period of three months, 1,700 questionnaires were submitted and half a million comments were generated in an accompanying social media campaign.
We have developed a new Artificial Intelligence-powered platform to convene largescale digital focus groups to enhance our analysis of peace and security trends. This information can be used to enhance the work of our mediators and envoys in the field. In June 2019, we conducted the first pilot test of the platform.
During the past year we have used big data to assess opinions of average citizens regarding key political concerns including elections and peace processes. We have also used virtual reality and other technology to increase awareness of the work and challenges of special political missions, including before the Security Council members.
Digital technologies have clear potential to advance peace and security. But we must bear in mind the associated risks.
I very much look forward to today’s conversation and to any suggestions you might have to enhance the mediator’s toolbox through the strategic and secure use of technology.
Finally, allow me to take this opportunity to thank you for your contributions to DPPA’s Multi-Year Appeal, which has helped fund our innovation efforts.