Building peace in the minds of men and women

Improving the communications and information ecosystem to protect the integrity of elections


Tue, 6 Feb
8:30 to 9:00

Registration and badge pick-up

Place: 7, place de Fontenoy, UNESCO entrance

Thu, 8 Feb
9:00 to 10:00

Opening Remarks

  • Getachew Engida, Deputy Director-General, UNESCO
  • Judith Lichtenberg, Executive Director, Global Network Initiative
  • Simon Pierre Nanitelamio, Deputy Director, Electoral Assistance Division, United Nations Department of Political Affairs
  • Patrick Costello, Head of Division, European External Action Service, European Union

Place: Room XI

10:00 to 11:15

Panel 1 - Network availability, security and integrity around elections

The integrity of the democratic process and political campaigns relies on a free flow of information and uninterrupted communications. This points to the need for communications to be unhindered by arbitrary filtering, blockage or network disruptions. In addition, it requires that election-related communications, the platforms and networks that carry them, and the servers and devices which store relevant data, need to be resilient to breaches and unauthorized intrusions.

Challenges that arise include:

  1. What are the impacts of “network disruptions” on elections, including on key electoral actors such as political parties, electoral commissions, law enforcement, and election monitors?
  2. How should human rights principles such as the criteria of necessity, proportionality and legitimate purpose for any limitations on freedom of expression guide policy about digital connectivity and free flow of information during the context of elections?
  3. What good practice guidelines can be developed by both states and non-governmental actors for prevention, disclosure and response to attempts at compromising data security and integrity and thus undermining democratic institutions and processes, including elections?


  • Chinmayi Arun, Research Director, National Law University, Delhi, India


  • Aiste Zilinskiene, Member of the Central Electoral Commission and Chair of Online Media Association, Lithuania
  • Constance Bommelaer, Senior Director, Global Internet Policy, the Internet Society (ISOC)
  • Fernando Garcia, Executive Director, Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales, Mexico
  • Steve Crown, VP and Deputy General Counsel, Microsoft
  • Yves Nissim, Head of Transformation and Operation in CSR, Orange

Open microphone



11:15 to 11:45

Coffee break and snacks


11:45 to 12:45

Panel 2 - Enhancing the quality of information around elections

Elections are periods when disinformation is often presented various forms, thereby posing challenges to free, fair and transparent political contest. However, relevant actors often struggle to address this challenge without impinging on legitimate expression and circulation of information for political debate.

This panel will explore efforts to thread this needle, including what principles can guide those efforts, what works, and what the unintended consequences may be.  Discussion will focus around:

  1. regulation related to transparency around election-related activities and expenditures (including on advertising) by political parties, candidates, and other actors, as well as non-discrimination in terms of advertising by election contenders;
  2. voluntary, self-regulatory or co-regulatory efforts to counter election-related abuse of Internet platforms, as well as efforts to provide users with tools enabling users to more effectively engage with and interpret relevant information; and
  3. voter education and media and information literacy initiatives.


  • Abeer Saady, Vice President, International Association of Women in Radio and Television, Egypt


  • Alexandria Walden, Counsel for Free Expression, Google
  • Andy O’Connell, Public Policy Manager, Facebook
  • Divina Frau-Meigs, UNESCO Chair Savoir Devenir, Nouvelle Sorbonne, Paris;  member of the European Commission’s High-Level Expert Group on fake news and online misinformation
  • Nana Gyan-Appenteng, Chairperson, National Media Commission and President, African Communications Regulation Authorities Network, Ghana
  • Olivier Schrameck, Président, Conseil supérieur de l’audiovisuel, France
  • Rob Mahoney, Deputy Director, Committee to Protect Journalists

Open microphone

12:45 to 13:00

Concluding Remarks

  • Guy Berger, Director of the Division for Freedom of Expression and Media Development, UNESCO