14 October 2022

Digital Technology and the War in Ukraine

On 7 October, the Geneva Graduate Institute had the pleasure of welcoming alumnus Brad Smith, Vice Chair and President at Microsoft, who gave an insightful keynote speech on the future of cyber peace and the role of International Geneva.

This public event was organised in partnership with the Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator (GESDA) and with the support of the Fondation pour Genève.

“The war in Ukraine has exposed the role of digital technology in contemporary conflicts. Cyber attacks against critical infrastructure, public institutions, businesses, and individuals, go hand-in-hand with destructive kinetic operations on the ground, network penetration and espionage. While most cyber-attacks can be anticipated and stopped before they reach their target, cyber influence operations are more pernicious and difficult to defend against. The weaponisation of information blur the line between conflict and peace. Disinformation campaigns are particular harmful for democracy as they targets its essence: popular sovereignty. False news reinforces distrust in facts, science, the media, and public institutions, as well as polarisation. If the State alone cannot ensure the protection of all citizens and organisations in cyberspace, a renewed public-private partnership is an avenue to explore. But its contours have yet to be defined, since its involves very sensitive issues related to the freedom of expression and opinion, which must remain under the oversight of elected bodies with the legitimacy and accountability to guarantee these rights.”

Jérôme Duberry, Managing Director of the Tech Hub at the Geneva Graduate Institute

Brad Smith’s keynote speech was followed by a panel discussion with the Director of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, Robin Geiss, and the Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the United Nations and other Organisations in Geneva, Jürg Lauber, moderated by Imogen Foulkes, BBC Correspondent in Geneva.

We encourage you to watch the recording of this discussion addressing among other angles, the necessity of a Geneva digital movement.