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Cyber, AI, Nuclear Weapons… and Peace?

In recognition of the International Day of Peace September 21st 2020, the CyberPeace Institute hosted a podcast that distilled approaches taken by the Nobel Peace Prize-winning organization International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), and expanded on the CyberPeace Institute’s human-centric mission to foster peace in cyberspace. The discussion puts the spotlight on the intersection of major threats, and opportunities for advancing peace amidst the furor. A must listen!


What is Peace?

The meaning of the word has vastly different outcomes depending on the individual. For instance, a country may not be at war in any given moment – and thus, as an entity with borders as confines – is at peace. However, a country is made up of many – thousands, millions, or billions of people – and if we were to ask each individual of that country whether they were at peace, we wouldn’t be surprised to learn that no, undoubtedly there is a significant portion of people in an ‘at peace’ country who are decidedly not at peace. There is no peace for victims of abuse. There is no peace for victims of trafficking. There is no peace for victims of any persecution. And now that we are living in our interconnected web, there is no peace for victims in the digital realm.

Peace, even if viewed solely through the lens of a nation state, has been an unfortunate, elusive truth throughout the ages in any case. There is a perennial ebb and flow of war and peace, and a mountain of aphorisms, structures, and religions alluding to and/or rationalizing the cyclical nature of a balance between tranquility and chaos.

Peace through Collaboration

In a practical sense, though, if we set our focus on nations and populations for the time being, the formation of institutions like the United Nations is the positive, inevitable response to the past and current reality of conflict. If we have decision makers from all corners of the globe represented, communicating their needs and wants, perhaps we can reach consensus without turning to the sword. According to the UN Peace Day site, “International days are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool.”

Cyber, , Nuclear Weapons… and Peace?

Indeed. Through collaboration and human-cenric approach.
In the modern day, both the CyberPeace Institute and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) are faced with the reality of exponential technological development dually aiding and degrading the sectors they have been formed to aid. In this podcast episode recorded in Geneva on September 21st – The International Day of Peace – we celebrated the work they have done thus far, and what they have in store for the future.

“Our approach to this is to identify the strengths in this technology and to put them in context about how they are impacting each other.” Stèphane Duguin 

 

Human-Centric Approach

The CyberPeace Institute is the inevitable positive response to the negative side effects of connectivity. The institute was founded in early 2020, and the timing for an entity drawing a line between industries superficially disconnected from interconnected (read: cyber) technology and the implications of cyber security couldn’t have been more unpropitiously timed. During the heart of the European continent’s fight against the insidious COVID-19 infection, a hospital in the Czech Republic was hit by a ransomware attack. In other words, a sector, which those not in the know generally don’t associate with cyber-attacks, was compromised at the height of a pandemic. Whether or not lives were lost directly as a result of that specific incidence is unclear… but as of a couple of weeks ago from writing, a death officially attributed to an act of cyber-crime is now on record. It is this precise type of collateral impact that prompted the Institute to deliver a Call for Governments – congratulations to Stéphane and his team on rallying such a powerful list of supporters to the cause.

Stéphane elegantly highlights the crux of the mission – an effective response must be human-centric and grounded in accountability, transparency, and communication.

“Cyber is quite an unseen world… it’s difficult if there is no positive action to really analyze, document and look into what the accountability points are.” Stéphane Duguin

 

Ratifying UN Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty

As for kinetic warfare of the most destructive kind – nuclear – we also find positive action arising to fend off potential catastrophe. The civil society coalition known as the ICAN was established in 2007 to promote adherence to a legally binding international agreement to reduce, and ultimately eliminate, the use and/or compilation of nuclear arsenal. A Nobel Peace Prize Winning organization, ICAN embodies progress in peace cooperation, civil society mobilization, and triumph in the face of, and yet indelibly hand in hand with, powerful stakeholders. Building consensus amongst well over 500 International NGOs worldwide, they have succeeded in rallying numerous governments to join treaties, and you’ll hear the exciting news involving the word ‘ratify’ numerous times during the episode – congratulations to Beatrice and her team, impressive results keep a-coming.

“What does that do to people in the decision-making positions? Everything goes very fast and you have seven minutes left before the missile hits, and is it a real missile or not?” Beatrice Fihn


 

Biographies

BEATRICE FIHN
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ICAN
Beatrice Fihn is the Executive Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize-winning campaign coalition that works to prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons. She accepted the Nobel Peace Prize and delivered the Nobel Lecture in Oslo on behalf of the campaign. Ms. Fihn has lead the campaign since 2013 and has worked to mobilise civil society throughout the development of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. This includes developing and executing ICAN’s political strategy and fundraising efforts as well as representing the campaign in relation to media and key stakeholders such as governments, the United Nations and other international organisations.

Ms. Fihn has over a decade of experience in disarmament diplomacy and civil society mobilisation, through her work with ICAN, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and the Geneva Centre for Security Policy. She has written extensively on weapons law, humanitarian law, civil society engagement in diplomacy and multilateral institutions, and gender perspective on disarmament work.

Born in Sweden, Ms. Fihn has a Masters in Law from the University of London and a Bachelors degree in International Relations from Stockholm University.

STÉPHANE DUGUIN
MANAGING DIRECTOR, CYBER PEACE INSTITUTE
Stéphane is a cyber security expert with 20 years of strategic and operational leadership experience. Creator of operational partnerships with the Internet industry, the cyber security sector, the financial sector, academia and cyber centric NGOs. Advisor to senior policy makers and political representatives at international level in the field of cybersecurity and counter terrorism. Champion of innovation with a proven track record of programme management for digital transformation, I led the delivery of three of the EU flagships on cyber security: The European CyberCrime Centre (EC3), the EU Internet Referral Unit (EU IRU) and the Europol Innovation Lab. Stéphan’s experience also includes numerous keynote speeches and lecturing cyber threats, counter terrorism, risk management, business continuity and crisis management, both at operational and diplomatic level. Creativity is critical to any future looking manager: Stéphane writes and performs theatre plays for a (non) living.

NICK KELLY
HOST, SECURE IN MIND   
Founder and host of the Secure In Mind Project, a podcast production highlighting the stories of people who work with security and risk as part of their professional working lives. Collaborating, negotiating, and elaborating with fascinating people from all walks of life including politics, technology, activism, military, policing, and intelligence the world over. He brings this breadth of perspective to the table and has a dogged interest in pursuing the human story behind the title or policy.

Impactful Messages Require Impactful Messengers.

It is courtesy of the partnership between CyberPeace Institute, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), Secure in Mind, and SwissCognitive that we can spread this discussion of a prevailing pragmatic peace process far and wide!

Stéphane Duguin
Chief Executive Officer
CyberPeace Institute
 

Beatrice Fihn
Executive Director
International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)

Nick Kelly
Founder & Host
Secure In Mind


PODCAST RECORDINGS
Join Beatrice, Stéphane and Nick for a lively discussion about how technologies like cyber and offer opportunities and risks for our interconnected global society, and how entities like the ones they represent are working hard to give peace a chance!

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