Emirates Diplomatic Academy recommends greater digital presence for UN

A report on how the UN can use technology to meet modern challenges was released in New York by the Emirates Diplomatic Academy on Tuesday.

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ABU DHABI // A report on how the UN can use technology to meet modern challenges was released in New York by the Emirates Diplomatic Academy on Tuesday.

The document provided the UN secretary-general with 20 recommendations on how to use technology to further the organisation’s goals.

These include creating a Universal Declaration of Digital Rights, appointing a digital security general, developing a new Geneva Convention for governments’ actions in cyberspace, leading public debates on artificial intelligence and ensuring all senior UN officials have an active social media account and are trained in its use.

Because the use of technology is widespread, the UN must champion universal rights on a digital level, the report’s author said.

“We now face a century of change like no other in history,” said Tom Fletcher, special adviser to the academy’s president.

“Technology will transform how we meet our needs for peace, dignity and community. We need these institutions to succeed now more than ever.”

Mr Fletcher said increased use of the internet means more cooperation among countries is needed to ensure protection of people’s information and identity online.

“I have spoken to multinational technology companies, and they tell me they need more guidance from states as the internet is almost anarchic,” he said.

Another aim of the report is to encourage public debate on technology, the UN’s online presence and digital rights, he said.

“We also hope that this report can be the start of a wide public debate on these issues — an opportunity for the UN to show it is ready to listen and ready to lead,” said Mr Fletcher.

The adviser said the UN needed to recognise it had a stronger mandate than it realised. He said technology companies IBM and Google have said they want to join a public debate on the UN’s mandate in technology.

Despite the Emirates Diplomatic Academy being relatively new, Mr Fletcher said he felt the centre had a lot to offer on the topic.

“Many of the traditional diplomatic actors do not have the bandwidth to focus on these issues, but in the UAE there is a huge emphasis on technology and innovation,” he said.

“As an institute in the UAE, this is a natural fit for us.”

Bernardino Leon, president of the academy, said the report was compiled as part of the institute’s role in contributing to discussions on diplomatic solutions.

tsubaihi@thenational.ae