Crisis Code, Panel 2: Digital Policy for a New Humanitarianism

Digital security and human rights policy leaders meet around the Swiss Touch table to explore a way forward for humanitarian protection.

Event Details


swissnex San Francisco
Pier 17, Suite 800, San Francisco, California 94111 United States


September 29, 2017 from 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm America/Los Angeles (UTC-08:00)


$25 (Panel 2) - $40 (Panel 1&2)

In codifying the rules of war and civilian protection, the Geneva Conventions have protected countless lives for decades. But do international humanitarian laws, standards, and norms need to be reexamined in light of today’s digital reality? While Microsoft’s Brad Smith went so far as to propose a new international framework, the Digital Geneva Convention, the ensuing debate has not emphasized humanitarian imperatives. 

Drawing on the collective understanding around cybersecurity and vulnerabilities on the ground developed during the Crisis Code conference, Panel 2 brings together leaders from digital policy, human rights, and international law to look ahead and discuss the outlines for a new agenda for humanitarian protection in the digital age.


6:30pm – Doors open
7:00pm – Panel discussion
8:30pm – Catered networking reception
10:00pm – Doors close

About Crisis Code

Can you put a Red Cross emblem on a Wi-Fi tower in a refugee camp? How can the life and dignity of crisis-affected populations be protected from cyber-attacks and unintended harm in cyberspace? How should humanitarian agencies and their technology partners work together to safely and responsibly meet information and communication needs in crisis?

Together with US, Swiss, and international partners, the Consulate General of Switzerland in San Francisco and swissnex San Francisco convene the two-day conference Crisis Code: Humanitarian Protection in the Digital Age on September 27-28 to collectively examine our international humanitarian and human rights laws, standards, and norms in light of new cyber-realities. The program provides a neutral platform to develop a better understanding of the relationship between cyber-threats and humanitarian protection, and identify a possible agenda for mitigating the digital vulnerabilities of populations in crisis. In workshops and panel discussions, researchers, practitioners, and policy makers will map out new territories of vulnerability in cyberspace, assess existing practice around humanitarian data, and build consensus for action.

This conference is part of the Swiss Touch Campaign, a series of events dedicated to leveraging Switzerland’s innovative and forward-looking edge. Switzerland is striving for a relevant, responsive, and meaningful humanitarianism in the digital age—through building bridges between the technology and the humanitarian sectors, and between Silicon Valley and international Geneva.


Alexa Koenig, UC Berkeley

Alexa Koenig, PhD, JD, is the Executive Director of the Human Rights Center (winner of the 2015 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions) and a lecturer-in-residence at UC Berkeley School of Law, where she teaches classes on human rights and international criminal law. She directs the Human Rights Investigations Lab, which trains and works with undergraduate and graduate students to use open source methods to support human rights advocacy and accountability. She administers the Technology Advisory Board of the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court on behalf of the Human Rights Center and is often called upon to speak about the role of emerging technologies in human rights practice. Alexa is the co-author of Hiding in Plain Sight: The Pursuit of War Criminals from Nuremberg to the War on Terror; the co-editor of Extreme Punishment: Comparative Studies in Detention, Incarceration and Solitary Confinement; and a contributor to The Guantánamo Effect: Exposing the Consequences of US Detention and Interrogation Practices. Alexa has won numerous honors and awards for her research and public service, including a fellowship with the American Association of University Women and the Eleanor Swift Award for Public Service, and grants from the National Science Foundation and several private foundations.


Eileen Donahoe, Stanford

EvaEileen Donahoe is Executive Director of the Global Digital Policy Incubator at Stanford University’s Center for Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law, where she works to develop global digital policies that address human rights, security and governance challenges. She served as the first US Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, during the Obama Administration. After leaving government, she was Director of Global Affairs at Human Rights Watch where she represented the organization worldwide on human rights foreign policy. Eileen is a member of the World Economic Forum Council on the Future of Human Rights; the University of Essex Advisory Board on Human Rights, Big Data and Technology; the Freedom Online Coalition Working Group on Freedom & Security; and the Benetech Advisory Board. She is a Distinguished Fellow at the Center for International Governance Innovation and an Affiliate at the Center for International Security & Cooperation at Stanford University. Previously, she was a technology litigator at Fenwick & West in Silicon Valley. She holds a BA from Dartmouth, an M.T.S. from Harvard, a J.D. from Stanford Law School, an MA in East Asian Studies from Stanford, and a Ph.D. in Ethics and Social Theory from GTU at UC Berkeley. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Solange Ghernaouti, University of Lausanne

SolangeSolange Ghernaouti, Professor at the University of Lausanne, is an internationally-recognized expert on information and communications technology (ICT) risk management, cybersecurity, cyberdefence and cybercrime related issues. She has contributed to several initiatives organized by international organizations, public and private institutions, research centers, and law enforcement agencies around the globe. She is an active independent security advisor, an influential analyst, and a regular media commentator. Professor Ghernaouti has authored more than 200 publications and more than twenty-five books on ICT and security issues. She is Knight of the Legion of Honor and member of the Swiss Academy of Sciences, and a member of the scientific committee of the International Forum of Security Technologies. She has been recognized by the Swiss press as one of today’s outstanding women in professional and academic circles.

Jovan Kurbalija, Geneva Internet Platform

Dr. Jovan Kurbalija is the Founding Director of DiploFoundation and the Head of the Geneva Internet Platform. A former diplomat, Dr. Kurbalija has a professional and academic background in international law, diplomacy, and information technology. He has been a pioneer in the field of cyber diplomacy since 1992, when he established the Unit for Information Technology and Diplomacy at the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies in Malta. Dr. Kurbalija was a member of the United Nations Working Group on Internet Governance (2004-2005), special advisor to the Chairman of the UN Internet Governance Forum (2006-2010) and a member of the High Level Multistakeholder Committee for NETmunidal (2013-2014). Since 1997, Dr. Kurbalija’s research and articles on cyber diplomacy have shaped research and policy discussion on the impact of the Internet on diplomacy and international relations. His book, An Introduction to Internet Governance, has been translated into 9 languages and is used as a textbook for academic courses worldwide.


Kerstin Vignard, UN Institute for Disarmament Research

Kerstin Vignard, a dual US-French national, is an international security policy professional with over 20 years’ experience at the United Nations. As Deputy to the Director and Chief of Operations at the UN Institute for Disarmament Research, she advises the Director and leads the Institute’s work on emerging security issues. She has served as Consultant to four of the five UN Groups of Governmental Experts on Developments in the field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security (the UN GGEs on Cybersecurity). Since 2013, she has led UNIDIR’s work on the weaponization of increasingly autonomous technologies.