Geneva Talks: Charting International Collaboration in the Digital Age

Inspired by the conviction that technology is key to the future of humanity, this workshop explores the future of multilateral governance in a post-pandemic world.

Event Details


Online Workshop


Friday, June 26, 2020
08:00am to 09:15am in San Francisco 05:00pm to 06:15pm in Switzerland


Invite Only. Request invite below.

This summer marks the 75th anniversary of the United Nations (UN) in a time of turmoil and uncertainty. After the Second World War, countries across the World have signed the UN Charter in San Francisco in agreement to collectively work on a multilateral future. This year, the global pandemic not only reminds us that we are all interconnected, but also challenges us in upholding the principles that stand at the core of the UN Charter. The unprecedented crisis highlights the need for cooperation across countries, sectors, and generations. It is also a time of deep reflections about past, present, and what is ahead. Science and technology are the nexus of discussions ranging from finding a vaccine against COVID-19 to foresight for the future impact of AI and robotics on our lives and society.

In light of the UN’s 75th anniversary, swissnex San Francisco and the Consulate General of Switzerland in partnership with the Republic and Canton of Geneva, ICRC, DiploFoundation, and ICT4peace are hosting a two-part digital conversation aimed at bridging the dialogue between Geneva, the world’s capital for humanitarian and diplomatic affairs, and Silicon Valley, the epicenter of tech innovation. We will explore the challenges and opportunities that new technologies are introducing to the multilateral and humanitarian sector by bringing the technology industry into a conversation with actors from the multilateral and humanitarian sector.

The Geneva Talks series is a collaboration between swissnex SF, the Consulate General of Switzerland in San Francisco, and the Republic and Canton of Geneva. Inspired by the conviction that technology is key to the future of humanity, the digital talks explores the symbiotic relationship between technology and humanity. The current global health pandemic highlights how central technology has become to address international crisis, and touches on the core values of the UN Charter. The future of the UN and multilateral governance, housed in Geneva, will be inextricably linked to technological progress sparked in Silicon Valley.

On the second day of our digital conversations around the UN’s 75th anniversary, we will explore linkages across a distance of 5833 miles around the impact of science and technology on multilateral diplomacy. After an initial mapping by high-level panelists from tech and international governance, we will break out in two sessions:

  • Breakout 1 (led by ICT4Peace)
    If the UN was designed today, with the technology available, what would it look like? 

Information technologies have made the world much smaller, making it easier for us to connect and exchange information. Where before we sent information via courier, now we can send live video and documents at the touch of a button. With relatively low barriers to entry, non-state actors, including from civil society and the private commercial sector, now have visible platforms to share their needs and concerns. As the current pandemic has highlighted, meeting and other social media apps and platforms are allowing us to assemble and discuss virtually. If we were to design the UN today, with all of these technologies, what would it look like? What would be its core mission and mandate? Would participation, decision-making and implementation look radically different? What are the potential risks as well as the opportunities? 

  • Breakout 2 (Led by DiploFoundation/the Geneva Internet Platform)
    Contact tracing: How will countries cooperate with each other and the tech sector, and what is the role of the UN? 

There is an interplay between the Bay Area and “International Geneva” when it comes to contact tracing. The journey starts at the EPFL in Lausanne whose decentralized protocol was used by Google and Apple to develop their app. Discussions around contact tracing affect almost every country as they try to contain the pandemic while restarting economic and social lives. Some countries go for a centralized solution. Others follow solutions where data is kept on our mobiles and used only to flag the physical proximity of somebody tested positive for COVID-19. As travel across borders must resume, it becomes imperative that different contact tracing apps deployed nationally are interoperable. This takes us to Geneva, highlighting the need for international digital cooperation. Should the UN World Health Organization or the International Telecommunications Union address cross-border cooperation? How can protection of privacy, safety and security be ensured? How will data be protected? Is there a need for new technical or data-exchange standards? 

Additionally to registering to the workshop, please let us know here, what breakout session you would like to attend.


San Francisco
08:00am — Opening discussion with Michael Møller (Chairman, Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator; former Director General of United Nations Office Geneva) and Karin Schwab (Vice President, Deputy General Counsel, Product, Technology and Payments at eBay) moderated by Prof. Jovan Kurbalija (Founding Director & Head, Geneva Internet Platform)
08:30am — Workshop in breakout rooms organized by DiploFoundation (facilitated by Dr. Tereza Horejsova) and ICT4peace (facilitated by Anne-Marie Buzatu)
09:00am — Discussion & Exchange
09:15am — Conclusion  

05:00pm — Opening discussion with Michael Møller (Chairman, Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator; former Director General of United Nations Office Geneva) and Karin Schwab (Vice President, Deputy General Counsel, Product, Technology and Payments at eBay) moderated by Prof. Jovan Kurbalija (Founding Director & Head, Geneva Internet Platform)
05:30pm — Workshop in breakout rooms organized by DiploFoundation (facilitated by Dr. Tereza Horejsova) and ICT4peace (facilitated by Anne-Marie Buzatu)
06:00pm — Discussion & Exchange
06:15pm — Conclusion


Michael Møller
Michael Møller is the Chairman of the Diplomacy Forum at the Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator. In 2019, he concluded 6 years as the Director-General of the United Nations Office in Geneva. His career began in 1979 with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and he worked with UNHCR in different capacities in New York, Iran, Mexico, Haiti and Geneva. Between 1997 and 2001 he was the Head of the Office of the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs at United Nations headquarters; between 2001 and 2006 he was the Director for Political, Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Affairs in the Office of the Secretary-General, while serving concurrently as Deputy Chief of Staff for the last two years of that period. Mr. Møller also served as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Cyprus from 2006 to 2008 and was the Executive Director of the Kofi Annan Foundation from 2008 to 2011. Born in 1952 in Copenhagen, Mr. Møller completed a Master’s course in International Relations at Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the University of Sussex, United Kingdom.

Prof. Jovan Kurbalija
Prof. Jovan Kurbalija is the Founding Director of DiploFoundation and the Head of the Geneva Internet Platform. A former diplomat, Prof. 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. Prof. Kurbalija was a member of the United Nations (UN) 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 Prof. 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.

Dr. Tereza Horejsova
Originally from the Czech Republic, Dr Tereza Horejsova is currently based in Washington DC. Joining Diplo in 2012, Tereza has had an international career in academia and the non-governmental sector in the Czech Republic, the United Arab Emirates, and Switzerland. During her stay in Geneva (2012‒2016), she coordinated the activities of the Geneva Internet Platform. She holds an MA in International Area Studies and a PhD in European Studies, both from the Charles University in Prague. 


Anne-Marie Buzatu
Anne-Marie Buzatu is Senior Advisor to ICT4Peace and is co-founder of Security and Human Empowerment Solutions, a values-driven initiative to improve human security and development opportunities for international and national stakeholders and local communities. Previous to this, Anne-Marie was Deputy Head of the Public-Private Partnerships Division at DCAF in Geneva where she worked for nearly 12 years. In this role she led under a Swiss government mandate the development of the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers (ICoC), a multistakeholder initiative which set out international human rights compliant principles and standards for the private security industry. She subsequently led the creation of the International Code of Conduct Association (ICoCA), the oversight mechanism for the ICoC, where she also served as Interim Executive Director for 13 months. Anne-Marie writes and consults with governments and international organizations on cyber (human) security policy, preventing violent extremist and terrorist use of the internet, and human security impacts of private commercial actors.  An international lawyer by training, she also worked for several years in the information technology sector. This low-level understanding of information technologies enables her to bridge the expertise divide, translate between policy and technology specialists, and identify pragmatic and effective cybersecurity policy and governance approaches. Anne-Marie has published several policy papers and articles in the areas of private security and cybersecurity. Her most recent publication is a chapter on Global Cybersecurity and the Private Sector published in the Routledge Handbook of International Cybersecurity (2020).

Karin Schwab
Karin is an international business executive with over 20 years of experience across marketplaces, technology and e-commerce. She has a proven track record in leading successful large-scale transformation initiatives, optimizing processes in complex, globally matrixed environments and operationalizing M&A transactions in domestic and global markets. Currently, Karin is the Vice President and Deputy General Counsel for eBay’s Global Product and Technology Organization, holding oversight for regulatory, commercial and product compliance work. She is also non-executive member of Valora’s Board of Directors (SWX: VALN). As a member of eBay’s Product and Tech Leadership team, Karin participates in the development of the strategy and execution of operational plans for this business with annual revenues of $10B. She was closely involved in the PayPal spinoff and is now a key player of the core team developing eBay’s managed payment model – projecting an annualized global incremental revenue of over $2B. Karin is born and raised in the bilingual town of Fribourg, Switzerland. Through deep international experience, Karin knows how to build diverse and highly engaged teams working effectively across functions and borders. Karin’s pedigreed academic background includes a Ph.D. in E-Commerce from the University of Zurich, Switzerland and a Master of Laws from the University of London, UK specializing in Computer and Communications Law. She is admitted to the bar in Switzerland and California, USA. Karin is married and has a 10-year old daughter.