Hello and welcome to my blog on using ICTs for peacebuilding and conflict transformation.
This blog is an attempt to cover issues on a regular basis that are of interest to me as a thought-leader and practitioner of ICT4Peace. Based on my lived experience of war, human rights advocacy and democratic dissent, I am convinced that ICTs (including mobile phones) can and already do make a significant impact on and difference in conflict transformation, beginning with my own country, Sri Lanka. This blog is a record of my failures, limited triumphs and more importantly, ideas in support of the greater integration of ICTs in all aspects and stages of peacebuilding.
I am a Senior Researcher at the Centre for Policy Alternatives and Head of ICT and Peacebuilding at InfoShare, located in Colombo, Sri Lanka. In 1997, I read English Literature as an undergraduate in Delhi, India and in 2005 was awarded an Advanced Masters in Conflict Resolution and International Relations from the University of Queensland, Brisbane with a Dean’s Commendation for High Achievement.
As a Fellow of the Center for Information Technology and Dispute Resolution at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, I contribute to the evolution of Online Dispute Resolution (ODR), with a special focus on mobiles and new media. In 2008, I was the first Sri Lankan to be awarded the prestigious News & Knowledge Entrepreneur Fellowship from the US based Ashoka Foundation, recognising significant work in using citizen journalism and online media to strengthen human rights, peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka.
In 2003, I helped setup InfoShare in Sri Lanka to pursue some of the possibilities of using ICT for peace in Sri Lanka in 2003. At around this time, I was also introduced to Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) – another interesting use of technology to resolve commercial disputes. My growing interest in ODR led me to push the boundaries of its theory and application – introducing seasoned practitioners to the complex domains of ethno-political conflict and its transformation.
I am the founding editor of Groundviews (www.groundviews.org), an international award-winning web based citizen journalism initiative widely recognised as one of the most vital sites for critical dissent in Sri Lanka. A frequent commentator on media, politics and communications, I regularly contribute to a range of media in Sri Lanka and internationally.
Since the late 90′s, I have been interested in and written publicly on the use of technology and media for peacebuilding. While there are now hundreds of examples of ICTs used in conflict prevention, mitigation, and transformation, this was not the case when I first started to submit that ICTs would change the face of peacekeeping and peacebuilding.
Much of my public writing and research on ICT4Peace is available from my personal website.
Since 2006, I have been involved in a number of efforts that have used new media, mobiles, the Internet and the web to amplify dissent in Sri Lanka. These include the award winning citizen journalism initiative Groundviews, Vikalpa, Vikalpa Video, Voices of Reconciliation Radio, mainstream media bias monitoring, community radio on the Internet, advising youth groups on web activism and in-depth reports into the tradional, community and new media landscapes in Sri Lanka.
In the capacity as a Special Advisor to the ICT4Peace Foundation, I have since 2007 worked with the UN’s Chief Information Technology Officer (CITO) to establish a coherent and UN wide crisis information management architecture. In 2008, I was the chief author of a report on the capabilities and capacities in the UN to deal with crises, and continue to actively work on this process.
My interests also extend to the use of ICTs in humanitarian aid. In this regard, I haveauthored substantive papers, participated and provided input to critical workshops at the UN and have also been associated with significant non-governmental efforts to advance the state of the art in the field of humanitarian aid and crisis response.
All views and opinions expressed on this blog are my own. Nothing here reflects the positions, official or otherwise, of the organisations, institutions and processes I am current or in the past associated with.
Since 2006 I’ve been a Special Advisor to the ICT4Peace Foundation, based in Geneva, Switzerland. The Foundation has its roots in the WSIS process and is now spearheading a UN resolution for the use of ICT in crisis management. My work and role in the Foundation are entirely separate from the opinions and ideas expressed in this blog. While there is significant overlap, the content herein does not necessarily express the Foundation’s stance or opinion.
Some key posts