Alarm over the potential threat posed by the rapid development of generative artificial intelligence (AI) must not obscure the damage already being done by digital technologies that enable the spread of online hate speech, as well as mis- and disinformation, he said.
The policy brief argues that they should be integral players in upholding the accuracy, consistency and reliability of information shared by users.
“My hope is that it will provide a gold standard for guiding action to strengthen information integrity,” he wrote in the introduction.
Digital platforms – which include social media channels, search engines and messaging apps – are connecting billions of people across the planet, with some three billion users of Facebook alone.
They have brought many benefits, from supporting communities in times of crisis and struggle, to helping to mobilize global movements for racial justice and gender equality. They are also used by the UN to engage people worldwide in pursuit of peace, dignity and human rights on a healthy planet.
Yet these same digital platforms are being misused to subvert science and spread disinformation and hate, fuelling conflict, threatening democracy and human rights, and undermining public health and climate action.
“Some of our own UN peacekeeping missions and humanitarian aid operations have been targeted, making their work even more dangerous,” he said.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ Message on upcoming World Refugee Day
Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message for World Refugee Day, observed on 20 June:
“During my decade as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, I witnessed the resilience and contributions of refugees across all walks of life. Their perseverance in the face of adversity inspires me every day.
Refugees represent the very best of the human spirit. They need and deserve support and solidarity — not closed borders and pushbacks.
As we mark World Refugee Day, we confront a startling statistic. More than 100 million people living in countries rocked by conflict, persecution, hunger and climate chaos have been forced to flee their homes.
These are not numbers on a page. These are individual women, children and men making difficult journeys — often facing violence, exploitation, discrimination and abuse.
This Day reminds us of our duty to protect and support refugees — and our obligation to open more avenues of support. This includes solutions to resettle refugees and to help them rebuild their lives in dignity.
We need greater international support for host countries, as called for by the Global Compact for Refugees, to boost access to quality education, decent work, health care, housing and social protection. And we need much stronger political will to make peace so refugees can return safely to their homes.
This year’s theme is “Hope Away from Home”. I call on the world to harness the hope that refugees carry in their hearts. Let’s match their courage with the opportunities they need, every step of the way.”