Tackling disinformation through communication

On Thursday 16 March, Challenges Forum participated in a Conference on “Information at the speed of trust: (dis/ill/mis) information and security issues” in Montreal, Canada.

The Challenges Forum International Secretariat Director Pernilla Rydén was one of the panellists at the session: How disinformation is identified by international institutions and which policies/ strategies are put in place to tackle the issue from a UN perspective?

Pernilla Rydén focused on what could be done to counter mis- and disinformation in field missions. She stressed that UN needs to ‘revolutionize’ its communication, and really enhance its strategic communication capabilities. For this to happen, peace operations need a set of new skills, based on better policy guidance from UN HQ as well as better capacities in assessing and analysing hybrid threats.

Panel from left: Chair Dr. Sarah-Myriam Martin-Brûlé, Pernilla Rydén, Naomi Miyashita and Dr. Cedric De Coning. Participating via screen: Albert Trithart.

Pernilla Rydén further said that UN peace operations must be pushing out the mission’s success stories on local, regional and national level, assessing that the responsibility of communication largely lies at a field mission.

The Challenges Forum assesses that the UN leadership needs to strengthen their communication skills, through preparations and training. There is a need to build strong and viable partnerships with the host government, population and member states. UN also needs to take a holistic and overarching responsibility to engage (on behalf of peace operations and other UN entities) with the tech/social media companies on how to counter negativities online.  The Challenges Forum partnership recognizes mis- and disinformation being a key priority for UN peace operations.

Field missions, especially the four multilateral operations (MONUSCO in the DR Congo, MINUSCA in Mali, MINUSCAT in CAR and UNMISS in South Sudan), have encountered a myriad of challenges for mandate implementation due to hybrids treats. These challenges raise questions as to how UN missions should approach the changing security and political dynamics prevalent in local communities within which missions are deployed. Hence, the challenges of coping with dis- and misinformation have been introduced as language in the mandates of these four peacekeeping missions.   

The Conference on “Information at the speed of trust: (dis/ill/mis) information and security issues”  was sponsored by Centre Franco Paix of the Raoul Dandurand Chair in Diplomatic and Strategic Studies, UQAM, Network for Strategic Analysis (NSA), and Bishop University. The other panellists were Dr. Cedric De Coning, NUPI, Albert Trithart, International Peace Institute and Naomi Miyashita, UN Department of Peace Operations