Worth reading are US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s remarks on Innovation and American Leadership to the Commonwealth Club of California on October, 15 2010. The speech gives examples of the concept of 21st century statecraft, which integrates the tools and social practices of information and communication technologies and new media with US Foreign Policy interests and diplomacy. An extended quote from Secretary Clinton follows:
“One aspect of what we’re doing to promote diplomacy and development that is quite new and has special relevance for the Bay Area in Northern California is our emphasis in innovation and our use of technology. We have been working very hard for the last 20 months to bring into the work we do the advances that many of the companies and the innovators, entrepreneurs here in California have brought to business, have brought to communications in particular.
Innovation is one of America’s greatest values and products and we are very committed to working with scientists and researchers and others to look for new ways to develop hardier crops or lifesaving drugs at affordable costs, working with engineers for new sources of clean energy or clean water to both stem climate change and also to improve the standard of living for people. Social entrepreneurs who marry capitalism and philanthropy are using the power of the free market to drive social and economic progress. And here we see a great advantage that the United States that we’re putting to work in our everyday thinking and outreach around the world.
Let me just give you a couple of examples, because the new communication tools that all of you and I use as a matter of course are helping to connect and empower civil society leaders, democracy activists, and everyday citizens even in closed societies.
Earlier this year, in Syria, young students witnessed shocking physical abuse by their teachers. Now, as you know, in Syria, criticism of public officials is not particularly welcome, especially when the critics are children and young people. And a decade earlier, the students would have just suffered those beatings in silence. But these children had two secret weapons: cell phones and the internet. They recorded videos and posted them on Facebook, even though the site is officially banned in Syria. The public backlash against the teachers was so swift and vocal that the government had to remove them from their positions.
That’s why the United States — (applause) — in the Obama Administration is such a strong advocate for the “freedom to connect.” And earlier this year, last January I have a speech our commitment to internet freedom, which, if you think about it, is the freedom to assemble, the freedom to freely express yourself, the right of all people to connect to the internet and to each other, to access information, to share their views, participate in global debates.
Now, I’m well aware that telecommunications is not any silver bullet, and these technologies can also, as we are learning, be used for repressive purposes. But all over the world we see their promise. And so we’re working to leverage the power and potential in what I call 21st century statecraft.
Part of our approach is to embrace new tools, like using cell phones for mobile banking or to monitor elections. But we’re also reaching to the people behind these tools, the innovators and entrepreneurs themselves.
For instance, we know that many business leaders want to devote some of their companies’ expertise to helping solve problems around the world, but they often don’t know how to do that, what’s the point of entry, which ideas would have the most impact. So to bridge that gap, we are embracing new public-private partnerships that link the on-the-ground experience of our diplomats and development experts with the energy and resources of the business community.
One of my first acts as Secretary was to appoint a Special Representative for Global Partnerships and we have brought delegations of technology leaders to Mexico and Colombia, Iraq and Syria, as well as India and Russia, not just to meet with government officials, but activists, teachers, doctors, and so many more.
This summer, an entrepreneur named Josh Nesbit from Frontline SMS, which designs communications tools for NGOs, joined a State Department delegation to Colombia. And on the trip he learned first-hand about one of the biggest problems in the country’s rural areas: injuries and deaths from unexploded land mines. He was so moved that this month he is going back to work with the government, local telecom companies, and NGOs on a mobile app that will allow Colombians to report the location of land mines so they can be disposed of safely.
Similarly, in Washington, we are bringing together groups of experts from various fields to join us in working on big foreign policy challenges. Last year we held our first TED@State conference. Just last week, Cherie Blair and the cell phone industry around the world, we convened a group to talk about how to advocate for girls and women to get access to cell phones. It’s a new initiative called mWomen, which will work to close the gender gap that has kept mobile phones out of reach for 300 million women in low- and middle-income countries.
At USAID — (applause) — we’re pursuing market-driven solutions that really look to see how to involve the business community and we just unveiled a new venture capital style fund called Development Innovation Ventures, which will invest in creative ideas that we think can lead to game-changing innovations in development. As part of our first round of financing, the fund has already invested in solar lighting in rural Uganda, mobile health services in India and an affordable electric bicycle that doubles as a portable power source.
The door is open to each and every one of you. I just met with a group from Twitter and I know that there area a million ideas that are born every day here. And if you have a good idea, we will listen. Because despite all the progress that we’ve made, we cannot take for granted that the United States will still lead in the innovation race.”
See full text and video here:
The next in the series Tech@State concerns Open Source. It would be interesting to engage with the idea of openness in light of the controversies and contexts wherein transparency and participation seemingly are at odds with US Foreign Policy.
““We recognize that the world’s information infrastructure will become what we and others make of it.” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Remarks on Internet Freedom
Tech@State: Open Source is a conference designed to convene those with an interest in government use of Open Source technologies and those who can envision an “Open Source future” that supports improvements to the world’s information infrastructure. Whether your interest is policy, code, data sharing or communication, you’ll find the right people in attendance to help you get things done. Save the date now, and join us on February 11, 2011.
The Open Source movement has opened a window for rapid development and implementation of technological solutions in the government space, but there are unresolved issues. How do we address procurement, accessibility, and security issues? Do policies written for other forms of technology apply in this space? What standards are in place for developing Open Source projects and documenting them? What can the larger government community learn from organizations that are already using Open Source technologies, and how might they use them better? And, ultimately, what is the role of government in creating a healthy community for open source innovation?
To develop a more thoughtful information infrastructure for our global community, we need to collaborate across governments, communities and networks. Important initiatives like Civil Society 2.0 and Open Government are taking advantage of Open Source technologies to enable innovation, coordinate communities, and engage citizens in the United States and around the world. Organizations and individuals are developing projects that rely on Open Source technologies to rapidly respond to disasters, provide reliable citizen services, and design information resource collectives. Discussing Open Source at Tech@State is a natural means of gathering more collaborators and methods around today’s most pressing multinational issues.”
From Paul Swider at the US Department of State - the initiative tech@state.
“Tech@State connects technologists to targeted goals of the U.S. diplomacy and development agenda via networking events that combine physical and virtual presence. As part of Secretary Clinton’s 21st Century Statecraft initiative, Tech@State connects established leaders, new innovators, government personnel, and others to work together on 21st century technology solutions to improve the education, health, and welfare of the world’s population.
In its first iteration, Tech@State: Haiti, participants from the private sector, NGOs, academia, the Haitian Diaspora, and the public sector demonstrated and discussed their innovations in Haiti. The event served as an idea and technology exchange among participants and ignited those attending to collaborate on current and future projects in Haiti and in other nations.
The second iteration, Tech@State: Mobile Money, brought experts, practitioners and technologists in mobile banking and communications to discuss how to scale up the many successful pilots of mobile money, what made those pilots and success and how to replicate them, and the implications of the sector for U.S. diplomacy and development. The Aug. 2010 event had more than 240 attendees and a like number watching online from around the world.
Coming November 4-5, 2010, we’ll be hosting an event on Civil Society 2.0.
All the events and collaborations surrounding them are hosted at tech.state.gov.”
I joined my colleagues from the Center on Communication Leadership & Policy at the USC Annenberg School on June 3, 2010 in D.C. to convene a meeting with the US Department of State to address the very question above.
There are pressing needs for NGOs, law enforcement, Governments, victims, and the general public dealing with Trafficking in Persons, also known as TIP, Human trafficking, and modern day slavery. Victims are usually isolated and even if rescued are socially cut off and unable to find the services they need most. NGOs for human trafficking often are not in regular communication with each other or, for example, HIV/AIDS NGOs. Law enforcement are often unable to access data and information about victims and perpetrators in country or across borders (and are sometimes complicit in trafficking activities). And the public are often unaware of the signs of human slavery that exist in their everyday lives. ICTs, particular mobile technologies and the Internet, help connect, locate, and share information about and among individuals and communities. Leveraging the assets of emerging ICTs to combat human trafficking is a pressing concern. The dilemma, of course, is that traffickers and slavers themselves use the very same technologies. Jeremy Curtin, Sr. Fellow at the Center wrote up the following re-posted from here: http://communicationleadership.usc.edu/blog/state_department_and_congressional_policymakers.html
CCLP & State Department launch exploration of ways to use Technology to combat Human Trafficking
State Department and Congressional policymakers, along with nongovernmental organization and technology industry leaders convened in Washington, D.C. Thursday, June 3, 2010 to explore new ways communication technology might be used in global efforts to combat human trafficking.
The meeting held at the USC Washington, D.C. Center was organized by USC Annenberg’s Center on Communication Leadership & Policy in partnership with assistance from the U.S. Department of State. Geoffrey Cowan, CCLP director and USC University Professor, co-chaired the gathering with Alec Ross, Secretary of State Clinton’s senior adviser for innovation.
Ross opened the meeting with remarks about 21st Century Statecraft, a concept introduced by Secretary Clinton that acknowledges the complexities of globalization and the proliferation of new technologies.
He posed questions as to what the role of new technologies should be in responding to global crisis, as well as the role of public-private partnerships. Using the recent disaster in Haiti as a launching-point, Ross asked how technology might be best utilized to connect governments to people, people to people, and people to governments. He explained that text-messaging projects were implemented immediately following the earthquake, raising millions of dollars for the relief effort and building public awareness about the disaster; however, these types of coordinated efforts have not yet been effectively undertaken to combat trafficking in persons (TIP). USC Annenberg’s role, he stated, would be to act as a “convener outside of government;” a safe and dynamic space to bring together people who can tackle TIP related issues in new, innovative ways.
Following Ross, Ambassador Luis CdeBaca, director of the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons and Senior Advisor to the Secretary provided an detailed overview of the challenge.
Pointing out that human slavery is not a new problem, the Amb. CdeBaca identified three main issues that he hoped the meeting would address: demand, victim-care, and the ethical use of technology.
In regard to demand, Ambassador CdeBaca stated that [in both sex and labor trafficking] there is a need to “clean up the supply chain”; potentially using technology to “name and shame” those who perpetuate related crimes.. About victim-care, he reminded participants that vulnerability and victimization come in many forms: from economic and gender-based forms of discrimination, to mental illness and situations of domestic abuse. He noted the need to create jobs to provide to victims of human trafficking during their rehabilitation. Finally, in regard to technology and ethics, the Ambassador reminded the group that many new technologies are, in fact, created using exploitative labor and human slavery. We have an obligation, he said, to know how our technology is being made and to make sure it is created under ethical conditions.
Cowan moderated a focused and engaged discussion in which he asked participants to describe ground-level view of conditions in various countries as they pertained to trafficking in persons. The needs of victims, service providers, and policy makers were considered. Of particular interest were the types of social support services available to victims and the steps that many organizations have already taken to integrate new technologies into their efforts.
Amy O’Neill Richard, Senior Adviser in the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP) described a national trafficking hotline that has been implemented with support from Lexis Nexis, while Eric Beinhart of USAID described an effort led by Microsoft to educate the public and isolate predators through gathering and sharing case data about child exploitation and trafficking. Several participants spoke to the idea of empowering community members through implementing SMS texting and crowd-sourcing technology.
Participants also identified key problems and discussion topics related to trafficking in persons, and asked technology experts to respond to these issues as they were introduced.
Some of these problems/discussion topics included: the use of anti-phishing/spam to be used to address labor trafficking issues; tracking illegitimate websites and job offers through a “TripAdvisor” for jobs model; the systemization of border patrol and better training of law enforcement officers (particularly in the developing world); links between trafficking and disease; the use of Google mapping or satellite imagery to combat TIP; making information about human resources more readily available and accessible in an effort to prevent TIP; using technology to track transit routes; making SMS transactions more accessible; creating a unified system for capturing data on trafficking-related criminal cases country-to-country; accurately counting and representing victims; using photography as a tool to combat TIP; capturing and organizing data about perpetrators [across the sex trafficking exploitation chain] (traffickers, pimps and johns); unified legal oversight and prosecution across sovereign borders; and how technology can help service providers implement and share best practices.
Ross concluded the meeting by calling on the group to remain engaged and be opportunistic as ideas emerge. The State Department will consider the ideas presented and encourage further exploration. CCLP will continue to act as a convening agent to keep the group and other individuals connected in order to collaborate on these and other issues.
http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2009/ This is the most comprehensive government report on trafficking in persons (TIP)/human trafficking/modern day slavery. The first 58 pages give a detailed overview of TIP including definitions and personal stories. The remainder of the report gives a country by country analysis/assessment of TIP. Essential reading for anyone interested in the subject. Published yearly. Secretary Clinton (June 16, 2009): “The ninth annual Trafficking in Persons Report sheds light on the faces of modern-day slavery and on new facets of this global problem. The human trafficking phenomenon affects virtually every country, including the United States. In acknowledging America’s own struggle with modern-day slavery and slavery-related practices, we offer partnership. We call on every government to join us in working to build consensus and leverage resources to eliminate all forms of human trafficking.”
UPDATE: Secretary Clinton has released the 2010 TIP report. See: http://www.state.gov/g/tip/rls/tiprpt/2010/
Secretary Clinton (June 14, 2010): “The 10th annual Trafficking in Persons Report outlines the continuing challenges across the globe, including in the United States. The Report, for the first time, includes a ranking of the United States based on the same standards to which we hold other countries. The United States takes its first-ever ranking not as a reprieve but as a responsibility to strengthen global efforts against modern slavery, including those within America. This human rights abuse is universal, and no one should claim immunity from its reach or from the responsibility to confront it.”