On 12 to 13 July 2023, 37 officers from over 15 Ukrainian state agencies, including the State Border Guard Service, the State Agency of Ukraine for Exclusion Zone Management, the National Security and Defense Council, the Ministry of Defense, the Security Service and the National Police, completed a two-day in-person training in Kyiv entitled “Stop the virus of disinformation.”
The training, organized by UNICRI within the framework of the European Union (EU) Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Centres of Excellence (CoE) Initiative and in coordination with the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, built upon UNICRI’s previous training activities in region. Throughout the training, UNICRI aimed to equip participants with techniques on how to detect and respond to CBRN disinformation, as well as effectively communicate with the media following a CBRN event. The challenge of CBRN disinformation is particularly relevant to Ukraine, as false information and conspiracy theories on CBRN risks can cause confusion and mistrust among the population, potentially jeopardizing the government’s emergency response. It is therefore imperative that national officers are equipped with training to understand common disinformation techniques and possess the knowledge on how to demonstrate the falseness of information or conspiracy theories (debunking), ensuring the safety of the population.
A mix of presentations and practical activities facilitated by experts from UNICRI’s Centre for Disinformation formed the basis of the training, while Olena Churanova, a disinformation expert from a local fact-checking organization, provided valuable insight on the Ukrainian context. On the first day, the focus was on disinformation techniques and existing technology options to detect false information, including artificial intelligence tools and open-source intelligence. The advantages and limitations of each solution were thoroughly discussed.
The second day of training centered around how to respond effectively to disinformation and how to communicate with the media during a CBRN event to minimize the risk of disinformation.
Participants expressed positive feedback on the training, highlighting its relevance for the fulfilment of their professional capacities. Moving forward, UNICRI, in cooperation with the European Commission, plans to provide ongoing training on combating disinformation among partner countries of the European Union CBRN Centres of Excellence.
Since 2020, UNICRI has been monitoring the malicious use of social media and analysing existing technology options to detect and debunk false information to understand the advantages and possible challenges of each option in the short and long term. Last year, the Institute published its findings as part of the Handbook to debunk CBRN disinformation, a practical guide designed for individuals or agencies working in CBRN risk mitigation at different levels and is now providing partner countries with related capacity-building activities.
To learn more about UNICRI's work in addressing CBRN disinformation, please click here.