ICRC moves cyber hub to Luxembourg

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is reinventing itself digitally in the face of cyber warfare and attacks on humanitarian organisations. The ICRC is making this digital transformation at the time of a financial crisis.

The ICRC’s cyber transformation will be coordinated from Luxembourg. This decision triggered controversy as the ICRC and Red Cross movement in general are the symbol of Switzerland with the headquarters in Geneva.

The article from the Swiss journal Republik discusses technical and legal aspects of the decision to allocate ICRC’s digital centre in Luxembourg. There are no major legal reasons as Swiss law provides a flexible system of diplomatic immunity.

The ICRC is also beneficial of diplomatic immunities that can be extended to the digital realm. The article also covers other technical and policy aspects of choosing Luxembourg as the digital hub of the ICRC.

It concludes that this move is a missed opportunity for Switzerland as it aims to become a global digital hub.

You can consult the original article in German in Republik and translation in English at Global Solutions.

About the Geneva Digital Atlas 2.0

The Geneva Internet Platform (GIP), initiated by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and the Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM) of Switzerland in 2014, provides a neutral and inclusive space for digital policy debates, recognised by the majority of global actors as a platform where different views can be voiced. The GIP is operated by DiploFoundation.

GIP established

The Geneva Internet Platform (GIP), initiated by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and the Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM) of Switzerland in 2014, provides a neutral and inclusive space for digital policy debates, recognised by the majority of global actors as a platform where different views can be voiced. The GIP is operated by DiploFoundation.

IGF established

The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) was established in Paragraph 72 of the Tunis Agenda of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), as a forum for multistakeholder policy dialogue. The mandate of the Forum is to discuss public policy issues related to key elements of internet governance, in order to foster the sustainability, robustness, security, stability, and development of the internet. The IGF Secretariat, currently based at the United Nations Office at Geneva, conducts the preparations for the annual IGF meetings, coordinates the IGF intersessional activities (between two annual meetings), and assists the MAG in its work.

WSIS, Geneva Phase

The first phase of WSIS, held in Geneva, finalises with the adoption of two documents: the Geneva Declaration of Principles, which underlines a set of principles to form the basis of an inclusive and global information society, and the Geneva Plan of Action, which contains several objectives and action lines related to bridging the digital divide. The Declaration also makes reference to Internet governance, by saying that this concept should constitute a key element of the information society agenda, and that the international management of the Internet should be a multilateral, transparent, and democratic process which includes all categories of actors. Signatories of the Geneva Declaration mandated the UN Secretary General to create a Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG), as a multistakeholder entity tasked with: elaborating a definition for the term ‘Internet governance’, identifying public policy aspects pertaining to Internet governance, and developing a common vision of the role and responsibilities of governments, international organisations, private sector and the civil society, as Internet governance actors.

WTO founded

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an intergovernmental organisation that deals with the rules of trade between its members. Its main functions include: administering WTO trade agreements; providing a forum for trade negotiations; settling trade disputes; monitoring national trade policies; providing technical assistance and training for developing countries; and ensuring co-operation with other international organisations. Several internet governance and digital trade policy related issues are discussed in the WTO, including e-commerce, intellectual property (IP), and market access for ICT products and services.

Borges died in Geneva

Nothing is built on stone; All is built on sand, but we must build as if the sand were stone.


Borges chose Geneva as his home and, ultimately, the place where he is laid to rest. Borges, one of the leading writers of the 20th century, was the master of discovering paradoxes and of addressing irreconcilable contradictions in human existence.

He rarely provides answers in his writings. Instead, he takes us on a journey showing that every certainty triggers a new uncertainty. Borges’s work gives a sobering look at the human condition and the limits of reason when it comes to solving personal and social problems.

His fiction is inspirational reading for addressing the core questions of humanity’s future, centred on the interplay between science, technology, and philosophy. His short story The Library of Babel,  written in 1941, is prophetic; it outlines the search for meaning in endless volumes of information, as we do today on the internet. Borges writes: ‘Nonsense is normal in the Library and that the reasonable (and even humble and pure coherence) is an almost miraculous exception.’ 

The truth exists somewhere in Borges’ library but is almost impossible to find as it is overwhelmed by irrelevant information, fake news, and competing narratives. 

In addressing informational chaos, Borges shies away from giving a naive hope of certainty, but he does provide some hope: He advocates for order in chaos and argues that by taking an occasional rest, we can stop, or at least slow down, the constantly shifting kaleidoscope of meaning. 

Borges wrote about Geneva:

Of all the cities in the world, of all the homelands that a man seeks to earn, Geneva seems to me to be the one most likely to bring happiness. Thanks to her I discovered, since 1914, French, Latin, German, Expressionism, Schopenhauer, the doctrines of Buddha, Taoism, Conrad, Lafcadio Hearn and nostalgia for Buenos Aires. Also love, frienship, humiliation and the siren call of suicide. Things remembered are always pleasant, even trials. These are personal reasons, but I can give a more general one. Unlike other cities, Geneva has no emphasis. Paris is not unaware that she is Paris. Benevolent London knows that she is London. Geneva, however, barely realizes that she is Geneva. Here are the towering shadows of Calvin, Rousseau, Amiel and Ferdinand Hodler, but no one speaks of them to the traveller passing through. Geneva, somewhat like Japan, has renewed herself without losing her past.

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Borges died in Geneva 8

Here you can find an excerpt from Jovan Kurbalija’s study published in the Geneva Digital AtlasEspriTech de Genève  Why does technology meet humanity in Geneva?

ISO headquartered in Geneva

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is a non-governmental international organisation composed of 165 national standard-setting bodies that are either part of governmental institutions, or mandated by their respective governments. Each national standard-setting body, therefore, represents a member state.

WHO founded

The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialised agency of the UN whose role is to direct and co-ordinate international health within the UN system. WHO is increasignly involved in dealing with digital issues, particularly focusing on the role of digital technologies in attainment of health and well-being globally.

IEC headquartered in Geneva

Founded in 1906, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is the world’s leading organisation for the development of international standards for all electrical and electronic technologies. The IEC’s standardisation work is advanced by nearly 20000 experts from government, industry, commerce, research, academia, and other stakeholder groups.

The IEC is one of three global sister organisations (in addition to the ISO and the ITU) that develop international standards.