Digital conflict: HD’s expertise

The frontlines of conflict are increasingly digital. Social media is used to spread disinformation, inflame tensions and undermine peace processes. More state and non-state actors now have sophisticated cyber and information operations capabilities.

With instability and threats growing in cyberspace, HD’s two-part digital conflict programme aims to enhance and modernise the traditional mediation process.

1. HD’s social media and conflict mediation programme offers expertise and analysis to minimise the harmful effects of social media on peace processes and conflicts. It features engagement and activities with:

  • Conflict parties to encourage restraint in the digital space through agreements that mitigate online harm
  • Social media platforms to help them understand and mitigate the impacts of social media on peace processes and conflict
  • Mediators to help them understand the impact of social media on the conflicts they work on. HD equips them to talk to conflict parties about online behaviour and to use social media to mediate more effectively and make dialogue more inclusive

2. HD’s cyber programme focuses on developing confidence-building measures between adversaries in cyberspace, particularly in regions where such steps do not exist or have been poorly implemented. HD executes several tracks of bilateral or regional dialogue that draw on and feed into broader multilateral initiatives to develop a global framework for cyber stability.

To enquire about engaging with HD’s digital conflict programme, please contact Karen Banaa at banaa@hdcentre.org.

To support its social media and conflict mediation programme, HD has convened an experts group (see biographies below) to drive innovative thinking and foster collaboration among mediators, researchers, policymakers and social media platforms. With backgrounds in government, academia, peacebuilding, technology and mediation, the experts are committed to creating and sharing resources to improve understanding of social media’s effect on peace processes.   

HD’s social media team and the experts group are addressing many challenging questions: How do we define responsibility in the online space? Which elements of social media behaviour are amenable to mediation? Who has the legitimacy and technical expertise to monitor agreements on social media behaviour? What role could social media platforms play in this work?

The experts group will convene quarterly to:

  • Develop a body of expertise on the integration of social media into peace agreements by providing technical advice and resources that can be shared with the broader mediation community
  • Collectively engage with other actors in the digital space, including social media platforms, to help foster collaboration that can support social media peace agreements
  • Accompany HD teams on the ground, advising them as they engage in dialogue with conflict parties about online behavior and mediate peace agreements that minimise social media’s harmful effects

HD’s digital conflict programme is generously supported by the European Union’s Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP).

 

Members of the Experts Group 

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Noura Al Jizawi is a researcher at Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto. She is the former vice-president of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces.

 

Graham Brookie is the director of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab. He previously held various positions at the White House and National Security Council, including being an advisor for strategic communications focused on digital strategy, engagement and coordinating a cohesive record of former US President Barack Obama’s national security and foreign policy.

 

Renata Dwan is an expert on the prevention and resolution of conflict in all of its modern forms: weapons of mass destruction, conventional warfare, civil war and insurrection, asymmetric warfare, hybrid warfare and short-of-war modes of digital conflict. She is deputy director of Chatham House and a Senior Advisor to HD.

 

Camille François is the chief innovation officer at Graphika, where she leads the company’s work to detect and mitigate disinformation, media manipulation and harassment.

 

Shelby Grossman is a research scholar at the Stanford Internet Observatory. Previously an assistant professor of political science at the University of Memphis, she is interested in research on online political disinformation, the political economy of development and Africa.

 

 

Rose Jackson is the director of the policy initiative at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab. With more than 15 years of work in strengthening democracy and leveraging technology for social impact, she previously was chief of staff at the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, founded the civic tech company Beacon and led programmes in East and North Africa.

 

Asif R. Khan is head of Mediation Support (MSU) & Gender, Peace and Security (GPS) in the UN’s Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs. He has served with the UN for more than two decades in peacekeeping operations and political missions in Haiti, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Israel-Palestine, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo, as well as at UN headquarters in New York and Geneva.  

 

Tatiana Monney is a senior electoral adviser with more than 15 years of experience in electoral support, peacebuilding and international relations for the UN, European Union and Switzerland’s Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. She has facilitated numerous electoral codes of conduct.

 

Sarah Oh is a non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council focused on the use of technology to protect human rights. Her decade of experience includes leading Facebook’s crisis response efforts in Asia Pacific and South Asia within the office of the chief executive and operating officers. She is now an advisor to HD’s social media and mediation programme.

 

Katia Papagianni is the director for HD’s Policy and Mediation Support unit. Her work focuses on the design of peace processes, particularly national dialogues and constitution-making.

 

Helena Puig Larrauri is the director and co-founder of Build Up, a non-profit focused on addressing digital conflict. She has more than a decade of experience advising and supporting UN agencies, multilateral organisations and NGOs on the topic of technology and peacebuilding.

 

Marietje Schaake is international policy director at Stanford University’s Cyber Policy Center and international policy fellow at Stanford’s Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence. She is also president of the Cyber Peace Institute.

 

Funding

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HD’s digital conflict programme is generously supported by the European Union’s Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP).

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