What exactly is ICT4Peace / ICT for Peacebuilding?
A recent telephone conversation with Amb. Daniel Stauffacher, President ICT4Peace Foundation, Geneva, prompted the need to clarify what exactly is meant by ICT4Peace.
Many of the ideas and research featured on this blog form what I believe to be the core of ICT4Peace – the use of technology to create hope even in the face of violent conflict. Seen this way, ICT for peace is not just about using technology to prevent violence, or bring about a lasting peace after a peace settlement between the main antagonists. On the contrary, it is the use of ICT to create channels of communication, frameworks of collaboration, and architectures of information and knowledge sharing even in the face of violent conflict. To create the designs for lasting peace, one needs to start at the heart of violence, the reasons for continued terrorism, the motives behind the killings, the root causes of conflict.
As such, ICT for Peace is both proactive and reactive. It can prevent violence from breaking out, it can help mitigate the fall out of communal violence and it can help engender the dialogues, virtual as well as physical face-to-face meetings, that foster hope in a final settlement and the larger process of social change that needs to occur apace to cement conflict transformation.
Not a single other ICT driven intiative – ICT for Health, ICT for Education, ICT for Development, ICT for Government – comes as close to the transformation of violent conflict as does ICT4Peace. For sure, acting in concert, all ICT initiatives aimed at various sectors can bring about lasting peace, but without an active, concentrated and sustained examination of the dynamics of peace and conflict, without mapping the actors and factors that give rise to hope in the midst of violence, without using technology to capture voices in support of peace even when they are being killed by the State, terrorists or both, any ICT for development or related initiative is doomed to failure, as they do not address the root causes in a given society that give rise to violence.
I’ve explored what ICT for Peace really means to me in a page I added recently to this blog (in addition to my own research in ICT4Peace) and hope the increasing readership of the thoughts herein exploring ICT for of peacebuilding and conflict transformation is an idea, based on practice and research, that needs to be noticed, supported and most importantly, promoted.
Your comments and thoughts are most welcome.