Save the date: "The Riga StratCom Dialogue. Perception matters". July 5.-6, 2017

5th - 6th July 2017
Event location/address: 
National Library of Latvia

The word of the year in 2016, according to the Oxford Dictionaries, was – “post-truth”. Focus on the concept of ‘’post-truth” demonstrates the underlying internet in and concern about how communication advances, and the impact of these advances. These changes, affecting the political, defence and social spheres, are leading us to ask quasi-existential questions about the fundamental nature of mankind, and perhaps more importantly, its future.

The Riga StratCom Dialogue 2017 will seek to address these issues by bringing together experts, including policy-makers, academics and practitioners, to create a wide-ranging discussion on how rapid changes in communications are affecting all sectors of our global society.

Are new trends simply old ideas rediscovered? Are societies able to withstand the pace of change brought about by technology? How will democracy adapt to thrive in the 21st century?

Join us on 5-6 July 2017 in Riga at the National Library of Latvia to answer these questions and many more. This event is invitations only, but will be streamed live on our Facebook page.



Wednesday, 5 July, 2017

​11:00 - 12:00                Registration

12:00 - 12:30            ​    Opening Remarks by H.E. Raimonds Vejonis, H.E. Ms Kersti Kaljulaid

12:30 - 14:00                The Politics of Strategic Communication

Strategic communication is the emerging battleground on which global politics is taking place. It is primarily understood, however, as a military concept. Info ops and PsyOps are common parlance in the military, but they have no place in civilian government institutions. However, strategic communication requires a whole of government approach. In order to achieve this, government and politicians must evaluate their own structures and capabilities. We have recently seen the powerful impact which strategic communication can have on politics, with electoral processes now under intense scrutiny. It is crucial, therefore, to examine the link between the political world and the world of strategic communications.

This panel will seek to find out what the political understanding of strategic communication is, and how this is different from merely political communication. Furthermore, it will attempt to understand the importance of strategic communications as perceived by the political world and in what form politicians would like to see it utilised, if at all.

14:00  -  14:30              Coffee Break

14:30  -  17:00              Quo Vadis “Question More”?

Russia’s attempts to re-assert itself over its perceived sphere of influence has led, most noably, to the annexation of Crimea and war in Ukraine. Russia continues to exert influence over other nations and organisations using a variety of means, from disinformation to deception. Democratic systems and the market economies in oher nations have been blatantly abused to reach Russia’s goals, while Russia itself has cultivated a siege mentality in response to neighbouring sovereign nations joining organisations such as the European Union and NATO. These influence activities have been quite successfl, providing Russia with the ability to engage oher nations 24/7, with unlimited range and substantial deniability. It is therefore crucial that we learn from such influence activities in order to anticipate and counter future threats.

This panel will look at what responses have been most successfl in countering Russian influence activities, as well as how our responses might be developed further in the future. It will also consider how Russian influence activities might continue to develop, taking into account Russian political and military aims and resources as well as developments in possible targets of Russian influence activities.

Speakers (CONFIRMED):
Mr Matthew Armstrong is an author and advisor on public diplomacy, international information, and propaganda
Mr Jed Willard, Director of Global Engagement, FDR Foundation, Harvard College

20:00  -  22:00             Night Talks

Are governments ready for Memetic Warfare?
Speakers: Mr Jeff Giesea, Author, Entrepreneur; Mr Axel de Mil, NATO HQ, Social Media Coordinator; Ms Jessikka Aro, Investigative Reporter

The Twilight of Populism and Political Communication.
​Speakers: Mr Gideon Lichfield, senior editor of Quartz (US)

The Future of Fake – technologies, limitations and dilemmas.
Speakers: Ms Vera Zakem, CNA Center for Stability and Development; Mr Janis Rungulis EEAS East Task StratCom Force representative

Thursday, 6 July, 2017

08:30 - 09:00                Registration

09:00 - 10:30                Journalism – The Truth About Telling The Truth

Ironically, the conviction that we are now in a ‘post-truth’ world has become a perceived fact. It is widely argued that this is a world where facts no longer matter as much as emotions and personal beliefs, a world in which lies and manipulation have replaced truth and objectivism. The blame for this state of affairs has been laid mostly on social media. However, with the consolidation of media corporations and the quest to maximise profts, these issues affect the entire media sector – starting from broadcast on radio to print media.

This panel will address, among ohers, the following questions: Is “post-truth reality” an alarming fact or a fashionable buzzword? Can social media be a primary news source? Does truth still matter in tabloid journalism? Is the fourth estate still able to embody democratic values?

Speakers (CONFIRMED):

Ms Päivi Anttikoski, Former Editor in Chief of digital content in Helsingin Sanomat
Dr Stephen J. A.Ward, University of British Columbia-Vancouver, Distinguished Lecturer in Ethics
Mr Benoît Raphaël, Digital & media innovator, senior advisor and entrepreneur.
Ms Cécile Mégie, Director, Radio France Internationale
Moderated by Mr Brian Whitmore, senior Russia analyst for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Moderator: Mr Brian Whitmore, senior Russia analyst for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

10:30  -  11:00              Coffee Break

11:00  -  12:30              Countering Violent Extremism Through Communication

Contemporary extremism has its roots in various ideologies. These ideologies are driven by political and religious forms of identity which are, in turn, shaped by historical narratives. The connection of extreme ideologies and violence creates challenges and poses a huge threat to global security. This leads us to the question of whether we can challenge the ideology – and the narrative – in order to counter the violence.

Charismatic leaders, as well as their supporters have left an imprint on a cognitive space of society, and led to behavioural changes in susceptible audiences. In addition, an operative understanding of the information environment has allowed extremists to circulate their narratives globally in a very short time. Our opponents are using communication to challenge us, so should we be following suit?

This panel will address how strategic communication could be a solution to reducing the desired effects of violent extremism. Can communication be the tool to counter the powerfl narratives of extremists?

Speakers (CONFIRMED):

H.E. Mr Maqsoud Kruse, Executive Director, Hedayah, The International Center of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism
Dr Anne Speckhard, Georgetown University School of Medicine, Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry
Prof Hassan Abbas, professor and chair of the Department of Regional and Analytical Studies at National Defense University’s College of International Security Affairs in Washington, DC

Moderator: Mr Jonathan Russell, The Executive Director, Quilliam Global

12:30  -  14:00              Lunch

14:00  -  15:30              Terminator Meets Asimov – The Impact of Robotisation on our Freedom and Society

Technology is shaping our environment more rapidly than ever before. We live in a vastly expanded information space, where smart technology exends into your car, drone, and fridge. As a result, life is changing from the individual level to the core functioning of nation states. Automated systems will no only perform pre-programmed actions but also independently judge which action is appropriate. These intelligent systems are changing the power structures between corporations, governments, and electorates.

This panel will examine how machine learning and sensor technologies can help improve security and make life more fun, whilst also evaluating the costs of such technological advancements. Can society and mankind adapt to the pace of technological change? How can the challenges of new technology be mitigated? Indeed, should they be mitigated?

Speakers (CONFIRMED):

Dr Christopher Kutarna, Fellow, Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford, Adjunct Professor, University of Technology (Sydney)
Mr Mikko Hyppönen, worldwide authority on computer security and the Chief Research Officer of F-Secure

15:30  -  16:00              Coffee Break

16:00  -  17:30              The Art of Using Art

Throughout history, art has been an impactfl means of communication linking aesthetic, emoional, cognitive and semantic dimensions. The subjective nature of information at the moment of creation, as well as the subjective intepretation by the consumer of the end-product, ensures the ability of the creator to steer the artistic process to a desired end-state. Communication streams encoded in art processes of the Digital Era have brought new opportunites and challenges boh to creators, as well as consumers.

This panel will primarily address the question of the limitations, rules and possible fture scenarios for the role of art in strategic communications. It will also examine, at a more fndamental level, how the emoional vibrations of art can be channelled into powerfl cognitive messages.

Speakers (CONFIRMED):

Prof David Welsh, Kent University
Prof Andris Teikmanis, PhD, Art Academy pf Latvia
Dr Ave Randviir-Vellamo, Freelance researcher at WorldCompliance a LexisNexis Company, The Search Group (Global) Limited, Tampere University
Mr Sam Viviano, American cartoonist and caricaturist, art-director of MAD magazine

17:30  -  18:00              Closing Remarks     

Please note that this agenda is only preliminary and might change. Latest updates and speaker's bios can be found here.