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Good morning, this is Kasmira. The United Nations’ top aid chief, Martin Griffiths stepped down last month at a time of huge pressure on the humanitarian sector to meet record global needs.

In his final briefing in the role with journalists in Geneva last week, he said it would be up to his successor – still to be appointed – to lead a radical rethink of how aid is funded.

And, please join us next Wednesday 10 July at the Geneva Press Club, we're we'll be discussing some of the headwinds Geneva faces in maintaining its lead in digital governance.

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Kasmira Jefford


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Martin Griffiths, under secretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, speaks to journalists during a press conference at the UN in Geneva on 26 June, 2024. (Keystone/Martial Trezzini)

Martin Griffiths: ‘The world is failing, not the UN’ In July 2021, days after taking up his new post as the UN’s humanitarian chief and emergency relief coordinator, Martin Griffiths arrived in Ethiopia, where nine months of civil war between the federal government and forces in its northernmost Tigray region had descended the country into bloody chaos.

The situation was dire. Schools, hospitals, vital agriculture and water systems had been destroyed and essential services like fuel and communication were on the brink. “It was heartbreaking to see the scale of devastation,” he said at the time, after visiting the village of Hawzen, where he met with a family whose crops and home had been looted and burnt down.

It was only the start of his term in the high-pressure job as head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which would be marked by escalating large–scale conflicts, international humanitarian laws being sidelined and growing challenges in getting aid over the front lines.

Since then, new wars in Ukraine, Sudan and Gaza have unfolded, which, compounded by other crises like climate change, have brought the number of people in need of life-saving humanitarian aid worldwide to nearly 300 million.

During his last weeks on the job, Griffiths has been active in voicing his concerns over the future, and about “the angry world we live in” as countries increasingly resort to war instead of dialogue and diplomacy.

“The crisis response these days tends to put a huge onus on humanitarian response when diplomacy, mediation, peacemaking, dialogue, neighbourliness should be at the forefront,” he told the association of correspondents accredited to the UN in Geneva (ACANU) last week, in his last briefing to the press.

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Is Switzerland losing its leadership in digital governance? Geneva, the birthplace of the World Wide Web and once a beacon to digital governance, is seeing its light grow dim. Faced with stiff competition, budgetary constraints post-Covid and geopolitical tensions, the capital of multilateralism is struggling to maintain its position in the field. Last month, the Internet Society decided to give up its offices in Geneva after a thirty-year presence in the city, in one warning sign of NGOs facing a high cost of living and a lack of funding. Geneva has also missed out on new opportunities. In 2022, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) picked Luxembourg for a new office dedicated to cyberspace.

Grégoire Barbey, journalist at Le Temps, will discuss his recent investigation along with Dr. Jovan Kurbalija from DiploFoundation, Francesca Bosco of the CyberPeace Institute and ambassador Thomas Schneider from the Swiss Federal Office of Communication. They will delve into the critical questions: Is Switzerland losing its edge in digital governance? Do the country's authorities still have the ambition to sustain Geneva's international digital leadership?

Don't miss our insightful event on Wednesday, 10 July, at 12:15 pm in partnership with the Geneva Press Club. Sign up to attend in person at the Domaine de Penthes, followed by refreshments, or join us online.

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