by Sheila Akinyi Owino

Before I share my story, I wanted to introduce you to the Maskani Commons. In March of 2020, with the support of the Knowledge Platform Security & Rule of Law’s (KPSRL) Knowledge Management Fund (KMF), the Center for Media, Democracy, Peace and Security — Rongo University (CMDPS-RU) and Build Up, the Maskani Digital Peace Process was born. Dr. Fredrick Ogenga, the director of CMDPS, was able to draw in the participation of students and faculty advisors from six public universities in Western Kenya to establish the Maskani Team. …


Opening remarks at the Build Peace 2020 conference by Helena Puig Larrauri, Director and Co-Founder of Build Up.

Build Peace is a conversation that evolves over the years and that reflects what is around us. In the first four years, we really focused on the opportunities afforded to peacebuilders by digital technologies — on technology as a tool for peace, for shifting power towards local voices. There was a sense of excitement at all we could do.

Over the past two years, the conversation has shifted. At some point we all began to recognize that technology was not a tool external to a conflict context, but an integral part of that context. We reflected on the duality of how technology is affecting conflict dynamics: there’s more polarization and fragmentation; there’s also more plurality and inclusion. …


We’ve been reflecting on the implications of the pandemic for conflict, and our role as digital peacebuilders. This is the second of a two-part blogpost, where our director Helena Puig Larrauri discusses how peacebuilding can adapt to social distancing in the short and medium term. The first part explores why peacebuilding will be important in the coming months and years, in connection with the social, political and economic shifts that the pandemic is bringing about.

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It’s 11am and my son is jumping up and down on my bed, screaming at the top of his lungs. Confinement is trying for a 3 year old (and for his mother, ha!), and yet we are fortunate in so many ways that spell out our privilege: we have a home, food on the table (and a food supply chain that’s holding up), a (struggling, but committed) public health system, the option of remote work. And I have the privilege of being connected to many peacebuilders across the globe, who have been a source of energy, support and inspiration these past weeks. As we develop much needed peacebuilding responses to the pandemic, we’re going to need to stay connected and inspired. …


We’ve been reflecting on the implications of the pandemic for conflict, and our role as digital peacebuilders. This is the first of a two-part blogpost, where our director Helena Puig Larrauri explores why peacebuilding will be important in the coming months and years, in connection with the social, political and economic shifts that the pandemic is bringing about. The second part talks about how peacebuilding can adapt to social distancing measures in the short and medium term.

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I’m spending a lot of time on the roof of the building where I live. This is more or less my view.

I live in Barcelona, on a street that is unusually quiet these days, the silence broken every night at 8pm to clap for our public health staff. We’re not the only ones, and will not be for a time — Spain may be the epicenter right now, but this pandemic is rolling out across the globe at different speeds. And so there is a sense of commonality, of global connection. …


In 2018–2019, we ran the Build Peace Fellows Myanmar program, supporting three initiatives to pilot technology tools to support their peacebuilding work. Here, Hein Paing Htoo Chit, Founder and Executive Director of SEED for Myanmar, reflects on his journey as a fellow.

Seeing conflict first hand

I can trace this journey back to 2014, when I graduated from medical university and traveled around Myanmar, volunteering in mobile clinics in disputed areas. In 2015, I found myself working in an area where ethnic conflict had driven many people out of their homes and into camps.

One day, I returned from an IDP camp after a medical service tour and had dinner with a group of local residents. They seemed confused and asked me why I was supporting these groups that, they believed, were harming them. I was shocked to see human beings questioning the health rights of other human beings because of their differences. At this point, I realised how much conflict impacts our basic humanity, and saw first hand the importance of addressing this challenge. …


“But what about leaks on social media? There’s no closed door negotiation when everyone is on Twitter.”

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Mediators are increasingly concerned about the threats posed to peacemaking efforts by digital technologies. They express concern over the risk of data leaks, a loss of control over dialogue confidentiality or the impact of social media on conflict narratives. At the same time, they recognise that technology provides an opportunity to advance their strategic objectives and are increasingly interested in understanding how to harness that opportunity.

Because concerns about risks have been dominant for a long time, there are fewer examples of technology positively influencing mediation processes. Mediation has lagged behind adjacent fields in its exploration of the positive potential of digital technologies, resulting in a deficit of concrete case studies. Whilst a growing number of track 3 efforts are experimenting with technology tools that increase their impact, less has been done at the track 1 level. …


An intervention to depolarize political conversations on Twitter and Facebook in the USA.

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In 2017, we piloted an approach to depolarizing conversations on social media in the USA. Throughout 2019, we scaled and improved this approach to have thousands of conversations across some of the most polarized and polarizing topics discussed on Twitter and Facebook in the USA.

We think it worked: an analysis of behaviors we directly observed on Twitter signals that our interventions had a positive effect on people we engaged in conversation. Our facilitators corroborate this in their qualitative assessments, and indicate they saw similar dynamics on Facebook.


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These remarks were delivered by Helena Puig Larrauri, Director and Co-founder of Build Up, at the opening of Build Peace Borderlands: Dividing and Bridging Communities With Technology, Storytelling, and Arts, a cross-border conference in San Diego and Tijuana from November 14–16.

This is the sixth edition of the Build Peace conference, and every year the theme and inquiry that we propose emerges from the conversations we’ve had in previous years. At the core of all our themes is an overarching question: what is the relationship between digital technologies and peace? …


We are exploring how we can transcend physical and political limitations to convene the Build Peace community online. Read on to find out how to join!

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There are a few consistencies that have emerged through the years that explain how we work at Build Up, and as an extension, what shape the Build Peace conference takes. We want to hold spaces for conversations and contributions where peacebuilders can speak for themselves. We make our values explicit and seek to embed them in our work. These include diversity, access, inclusion, and cross and transdisciplinary thinking. …


by Maude Morrison — This post part of a three-part series reviewing Build Peace 2018. You can read the other two posts here and here, and the opening remarks from Build Peace 2018 here.

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Creative approaches have been integral to Build Peace since its beginnings. But in 2018, we asked a more direct question about the role of creativity in reconciliation, exploring the link between creative industries and digital economies. Specifically, we explored how creative approaches can provide new economic opportunities and encourage collaboration that strengthens coexistence. Speakers explored how film, arts, music, dance and other creative approaches can bridge divides whilst at the same time promoting prosperity and inclusion. …

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Build Up

Build Up transforms conflict in the digital age. Our approach combines peacebuilding, participation and technology.

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