By Jen Gaskell
In collaboration with the London School of Economics for the WOSCAP research project, Build Up have authored a ‘good practices’ overview on the uses of ICTs for EU conflict prevention and peacebuilding. Full text here.
In 2015, we started working with the LSE and the WOSCAP consortium on evaluating EU civilian peacebuilding from a Whole of Society approach. The scope of research is ambitious: it seeks to evaluate EU capabilities in conflict prevention and peacebuilding in terms of governance, multi-track diplomacy and security sector reform. The overall findings also benefit from a cross-cutting analysis along the themes of coherence, local ownership, civilian-military overlap and ICTs, which Build Up has focused on.
After setting out our approach in a scoping study, we explored more specifically the practical challenges of and opportunities for operationalising peacetech. The report highlights a range of good practices from two case studies: SMS-based programming by Sisi ni Amani in Kenya and the use of video game Peace Park in Georgia by Elva. Both case studies show that technologies and process design that are participatory, context sensitive and locally owned can sustainably enhance civic engagement and violence prevention. They also show the potential of ICTs to overcome physical and political barriers, made all the more effective through fostering local innovative potential.
We then focus on challenges and opportunities specific to the EU and conclude with the following recommendations:
● The EU (more specifically the offices and units responsible for peacebuilding and conflict prevention as well as country delegations) needs to engage with the peacetech community to better understand the value of the uses of ICTs in peacebuilding and conflict prevention to translate technological opportunities into a thematic perspective that the EU can take in following its institutional organisation.
● This compartmentalisation should not occur to the detriment of strategic programming.
● ICTs can help strategic programming through more efficient and effective knowledge sharing (although this would require significant investment from the EU).
● From a Whole of Society approach, ICTs present both challenges and opportunities for EU peacebuilding and conflict prevention practice: the opportunity to bridge the gap between grassroots/community and political processes; and the challenge of undertaking coherent implementation at the political and grassroots levels.
● These considerations should inform the institutional place and policy direction the EU will set for its ICTs peacebuilding and conflict prevention capabilities.
Click here to read or download the full report.