The current wave of technological change has created new opportunities for multilateral cooperation across a wide range of areas, including sustainable development, conflict prevention, humanitarian responses, peace operations, and state-society relations. At the same time, however, it has created an enduring “digital divide,” raised questions about Internet governance and privacy, and led to new forms of warfare that challenge existing international human rights and humanitarian laws.
The UN has at times struggled to keep up with the pace of change, in part because private sector and civil society actors are often in the lead when it comes to technological innovation. This policy paper explores where the UN can play a useful role and where existing mechanisms and other actors are better placed. Based on extensive consultations with representatives of states, various UN entities, and civil society, as well as subject-matter experts, this paper details recommendations laid out in the ICM’s final report, published in September 2016. These include to:
- Consolidate a multilateral space for innovation and new technology; and
- Recognize the Internet and big data as global public goods.