The Kofi Annan Foundation was established in 2007 by Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the UN, to mobilise political will to overcome threats to peace, development problems, and issues related to human rights.
The Foundation’s Strategic Framework for 2020-2024 describes its mission as ‘helping build peaceful, democratic, and resilient societies’. Its four strategic objectives are:
- To strengthen democracy and elections, because popular legitimacy provides the basis for democratic governance, accountability, and respect for human rights and the rule of law;
- To facilitate youth engagement and ensure that young people’s voices are heard because they are active agents of change and must be given the opportunity to shape the world they will inherit;
- To enhance transitions to peace, promote reconciliation, and build trust and cohesion within societies, because it strengthens their ability to withstand future political, economic, social, or environmental shocks; and
- To raise awareness of Kofi Annan’s values and actions, and promote his core belief that structured international co-operation is key to solving challenges in today’s interconnected world.
The Kofi Annan Foundation addresses digitalisation within the scope of transitions to peace, as well as elections and democracy, in the follow-up to the Kofi Annan Commission on Elections and Democracy in the Digital Age.
Digital policy issues
- Human rights principles
In order to pursue its work in the area of transitions to peace, the Kofi Annan Foundation is partnering in 2020 with United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) in a ‘Building peace online’ project. The objective of this initiative is to develop a new digital platform that will contribute to strengthening the capacity of the peace-building and mediation community when it comes to truth-seeking, reconciliation and ensuring accountability for crimes committed during conflict. The Foundation will therefore share its extensive research findings on peace and transitional justice, whereas UNITAR will contribute with its experience in designing and delivering online training.
In regard to its activities on elections and democracy, the Foundation’s digital work is based on the findings of the Kofi Annan Commission on Elections and Democracy in the Digital Age. The Commission was first established in 2018 and was composed of members from civil society and government, the technology sector, academia, and the media. The objectives of the Commission were to: Identify and frame the challenges to electoral integrity arising from the global spread of digital technologies and social media platforms; develop policy measures to tackle these challenges and highlight the opportunities that technological change offers for strengthening electoral integrity and political participation; and define and articulate a programme of advocacy to ensure that the key messages emerging from the Commission were widely diffused and debated around the world.
In addition to articles that deal with issues such as the interplay between democracy and the Internet, the impact of digital on elections and democracy in West Africa, and the digital dangers to democracy, the Commission published an extensive report in 2020 titled ‘Protecting electoral integrity in the digital age’. It addresses, among other things, hate speech, disinformation, online political advertising, and foreign interference in elections. The report proposes a set of 13 recommendations that address capacity-building, norm-building, and actions to be taken by public authorities and social media platforms. The Foundation is now working to implement certain recommendations, in co-operation with a number of key stakeholders, including digital actors.
Future of meetings
Any reference to online or remote meetings?
- Yes, the Kofi Annan Foundation organises webinars on a variety of topics, including on the impact of COVID-19 on democracy and elections in various regions of the world, on youth resilience during the pandemic, and on violence against women in politics .
Any reference to deliberation or decision making online?
- The Foundation has held its two more recent Board meetings online, with decisions on programmatic and resource matters taken by members participating remotely.